The Purposeful Leader

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Three Brain Blocks Between You and a New Routine

Motivation, Productivity

We want to take care of ourselves, put ourselves on our priority list, finally take that class or get in shape, or stop overworking. And then we don’t. WTF?

What is going on? Why can’t we do it? What is wrong with us?

Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Rien. 

There are three ways most human brains function that are obstacles to implementing and following through on a new routine, and today we’re going to break them down and talk about how to overcome them.

Obstacle one: the double perfectionist fantasy.

We think we need to know exactly what we want AND need to go all-out going after it. Otherwise, we might as well not try at all.

Example: we think we have to know exactly what type of exercise we want to do, then do it five days a week while wearing + using the best gear.

Solution: what if it’s all an experiment, and we just need to do something once for a totally doable amount of time? Then decide if we’re going to do it again?

Obstacle two: short-term gratification shouts louder than long-term well-being.

Our brain wants us to be comfortable, and when we try something new, it makes not doing it sound a lot easier than doing it.

Example: we plan to start walking on our lunch hour, but someone requests a meeting at noon on Tuesday. Saying no sounds complicated and asking them if they can walk + meet sounds complicated. So we just say yes to the meeting and skip the walk.

Solution: take time to think about why the change you want to make is so important to you. What will your life look like in 3 months, 6 months or a year if you follow through? What will you have accomplished? Why is that important to you? Are you willing to say no to other people and/or prioritize your time to make it happen? Really think about your answers, imagine the positive results you want, and remind yourself about them on a regular basis.

Obstacle three: unconscious beliefs.

Many of us hold beliefs that don’t serve us when it comes to prioritizing ourselves. These look like, “it’s selfish to choose what I want over what other people want.” Or “being a good leader means I need to always be accessible to my team.” Or, “I can do what I want once all this other stuff is taken care of.”

Example: our planning habits, eating habits and exercise schedule completely fly out the window when we’re working on a big project.

Solution: question what you actually believe and what you want to believe. Do you want to sacrifice the habits that help you be your best at times when your best is most needed? Do you want to continue to believe that saying no is disrespectful to other people? Or do you want to believe something else?

In August of last year, I decided yoga was a good idea. I hadn’t been to a class in 10 years. But I knew that yoga offered two different things I was looking for: a meditative practice + strength training.

My brain went bonkers. What if the yoga studio in my neighborhood didn’t offer classes at a time that worked for me? What about equipment (I didn’t own a mat)? What would my regular yoga schedule look like? Would I need to interrupt my workday?

Basically, my brain was shouting, “THIS IS COMPLICATED! JUST STAY HOME!”

Having coaching tools and knowing what my brain is up to helped me move through this quickly.

  1. I identified one step: look up the schedule + pricing for the studio in my neighborhood. This taught me that there was a 6AM Tuesday + Thursday class (perfect for me) and that the studio had a new-client offer of unlimited yoga for two months for a very low price. Signed up for the offer and booked one class.
  2. I got clear on my why: this is the one body I have, and I want it to be a tool for adventure for as long as possible. I never want to tell my nieces I can’t do something with them because of a physical limitation within my control. I want to walk through every city I visit and the one I love most for my entire life. I focused on this until it was hyper-specific and incredibly motivating. Because even if you’re an early riser, 6AM yoga is no joke. But my reason is much more compelling to me than the desire to hit snooze.
  3. I looked at my beliefs. Luckily, I’ve done the work to truly believe in prioritizing the things that make me my best. And, I still ran through potential obstacles to check myself: what might get in the way?

I’ve gone to three classes a week since August. Turns out, I love it. And turns out it was easy to experiment then find a routine. When something more important comes up, I move things around to switch the day I go to class. I’ve canceled without making it up on another day exactly once.

Had I let my brain be in charge, I would have believed it was too confusing. I would have believed I had to figure it all out perfectly before taking action. I wouldn’t be as strong or flexible as I am now. I wouldn’t have eliminated the I-must-have-slept-in-a-weird-position neck thing that used to happen all the time. I wouldn’t have a mean standing bow pose . . . I wouldn’t even know what standing bow pose was.

I would have cheated myself out of my present reality.

  1. Pick one, doable thing. Do it.
  2. Decide why it’s important and remind yourself on a regular basis.
  3. Check your obstacles + the beliefs they represent.
  4. Repeat.

Go get it.

Imagine what life would be like 6 months or a year from now if you made one small change and did it consistently. Now imagine you have that as a skill — to apply to anything for the rest of your life. Schedule a consultation call to get started. It’s free + amazing.