How to Change Your Behavior Patterns to Achieve Your Goals
Step 1: Figure out exactly what you want, and what is preventing you from getting it.
What specifically do you want? Answer this in as much detail as possible. What daily patterns and behaviors prevent you from achieving it? This is accountability time. Don't blame anyone or anything else.
What are YOUR patterns and behaviors that prevent you from achieving your goals?
Step 2: Change Your Associations.
Let's say your goal is to lose fat and have visible muscle definition. Let's say that stress eating chocolate is the pattern preventing you from getting there.
Currently you may associate pleasure with eating the chocolate, and pain with going for a brisk walk.
You need to change these associations. Create powerful leverage, and associate the idea of NOT changing this behavior with massive pain. Associate the idea of changing with huge amounts of pleasure.
Through visualization and practice, you can actually change what feeling you associate with each situation. It is critical that you change these associations before you can be successful. Sticking with the same old behavior patterns needs to be viewed as painful. The pain of staying the same, without improvement. Changing this response to stress with a healthier and more productive alternative like exercise needs to be viewed as extremely pleasurable.
Step 3: Interrupt Your Old Patterns
When you begin to fall into he same old patterns (the ones you're trying to change), as soon as you notice it, short circuit the process by doing something out of the ordinary.
If you begin to inflict some anxiety on yourself by over thinking an event that happened at work (and this leads to a chocolate binge, as an example), as soon as you notice this happening, jam a wrench in the gears of this process so it disrupts the neural pattern.
This can be anything. Tap your heels together three times and say there's no place like home, or belt out an Elvis song. It doesn't matter, but as long as it is spontaneous and out of the ordinary, you will short circuit the old pattern response, which makes way for your new and healthier patterns to take it's place.
Another way to scramble your current behavior patterns is to turn the situation into a comical one. If something is really bothering you and it keeps replaying in your mind, replay it again only this time, everyone is a cartoon with exaggerated features. Suddenly it's not as important, and you will even find some humor in it. More importantly, you are shorting out your old thinking patterns.
Step 4: Create a New, Empowering Pattern
This step is crucial. Whenever you begin to short circuit and ultimately eliminate your old patterns, you leave a void.
This void needs to be filled or it is very likely your old behaviors will creep back in as you move through familiar patterns. Sticking with the above example, if you eliminate eating chocolate as a response to anxiety caused by work, then you need to fill that void with something new. There is some criteria for this new pattern.
In this situation, a 10 minute meditation video from YouTube, a 20 minute brisk walk, or a hot tea and your favorite book may be the perfect replacement pattern. It can be anything as long as it meets the above criteria.
Step 5: Condition the New Pattern
Once you have your old pattern thoroughly disrupted and a new pattern in its place, you need to build a strong neural pathway through that new pattern to your new behavior.
That means practice, and rehearsal. Visualize the trigger situations tat cause you anxiety, and then visualize your new response to that situation playing out over and over. This will deeply ingrain this new pattern in your mind, so when the time comes to put it into practice, it's second nature,
Step 6: Test It
Life usually takes care of this step for you. Test your new pattern by seeing how you respond to t he real deal. Stress at work picks up, what do you do?
If you manage to stick to your new pattern, congrats! You did it. If not, it's OK, it's not a failure. It just means we go back to the drawing board.
Starting at step 1, run back through and make sure you have performed each step thoroughly and effectively. Usually Step 2 is a good place to focus for future success at changing your behavior patterns.
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