New Habit for 2014 - Getting Dressed Immediately, Staying Dressed All Day

While I'm one of those contrarians who eschews New Year's Resolutions, I sort of cheat because it seems wasteful to not use all the energy our culture puts into changing habits at the beginning of the year. It's as good a time as any to kick off a "habit test" and see what various adjustments to our routines make an impact, for good or ill.


With a new baby coming any day now, I've been putting a lot of energy into cleaning up the house and organizing the space a bit. In spite of all the thinking I do about how to continuously improve, household organization is one area in which I can still grow (a lot). While working through this project, I have been purging and organizing my clothes. Just having this effort going on provided my mind with the fuel, and then a compliment I received about how good I looked in the pants I had been wearing (versus my usual super-comfortable furry pajama pants) provided the spark necessary to ignite a new habit for 2014: Getting dressed!

Now, I work in an office setting with casual dress, so I normally get dressed every day. On my way out the door. But when I had been waking up, and pretty much as soon as I returned home from work, I would change into comfortable sweats or pajama clothes.

In my mind, this remains "getting dressed", but I know Flylady among others recommends that the first thing you should do when getting out of bed is getting dressed in regular clothes that you can wear outside the house.  Flylady calls this habit "getting dressed to shoes". In my house, we currently avoid shoes inside due to the hardwood floors, so I'm just calling it "getting and staying dressed".

So far, so good

As with any new habit, for the past week I've been flying high on increased productivity. I've been tracking and enforcing this habit using the app and have been reminding myself that my wife prefers my look in street clothes versus comfortable clothes as another motivator.

After 30 to 40 days I'll look back and evaluate whether or not staying dressed from waking up to bedding down will have helped my productivity (at home, specifically) - and the evidence won't need to be some carefully maintained list. My house will likely be all the proof I need  due to the high rate of clutter accumulation we normally have.

Here's to 2014!  Any habits you're trying out?

Posted by Steve in Motivation, Productivity | Permalink | Comments (0)

MiniPost: Snow Shovelling with Polar FA-20 vs FT-60

Feedback. We know it's valuable. We know we need it to help progress toward our well-formed outcomes. There are so many ways to collect and analyze feedback that it boggles the mind but I have been very pleased with one particular way of measuring feedback regarding my physical activity and performance over time: electronic heart rate monitors.

I've been using a Polar FT60 heart rate monitor to help track my workouts and their effectiveness, allowing the STAR training program to guide my efforts. It provides great feedback and measurability which I will write about in the future - remember for now that feedback helps your relentless self-improvement and helps to fuel aggressive optimism. 

A while ago I also stumbled across an FA-20 Activity Monitor on clearance. It was affordable enough that I decided to pick one up just to try it out. It's based on computing your activity levels all day long rather than just in relatively short bouts of intense exercise, although it does have workout tracking built in (not heart rate-based, but accelerometer based).  This difference in measurement was highlighted today when I wore both units while shovelling the sidewalk. 

My FT-60 estimated my calories burned during the snow shovelling bout as around 220 while the FA-20, using my body motion, decided that I was still having a "lazy day"  (seriously, the watch literally says this stuff) and that I had burned about 6 calories since putting it on for the day.

It's probably calibrated around the swinging motion of your arms while walking or running and shovelling snow does not match those movements, leading to the interesting feedback I got. Lesson: use the right tool to measure the right activity. Even a HRM might not be completely accurate but it's at least available to be graphed in context with all of my other exercise. I've read that the newer FT-80 might be a better fit for someone doing the varied activities that I do (including some weight training) but for now I absolutely love the FT-60 and won't train without it.

That said, I am thinking of wearing my FA-20 more just to see what it thinks of my non-training activity levels.  I think it's meant more as an entry-level device to get sedentary people moving, who will then probably want to upgrade to something more interesting like the FT- devices.



Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, Motivation | Permalink | Comments (2)

How to Use Motivational NLP While Exercising

Here are a few notes on using NLP to help with motivation in your daily exercise. I have been employing these concepts to keep my daily routine in place and I'm getting great results. Sorry it's not a very systematic, coherent article but it's meant to get my thoughts documented for further refinement later.

The old saying, "keep your eyes on the prize" holds true. With proper well-formed outcomes, it's hard not to exercise regularly because you'll always be able to see, hear, and feel the benefits of a healthy body. Build up that desired target state where you feel great because you're in such good shape, and then anchor a particular warm-up exercise to that state. Then use that warmup each time you exercise to "get your glow on" and fly through whatever exercise time will allow.

I suspect that a lot of chi kung (qigong) and yoga might work like this. Once you have efficient, well-refined biomechanics going on, your nervous system seems to recognize the physical benefits on an unconscious level and it keeps you going, perhaps even propelling you into mild euphoric states which are then anchored to and reinforced by the postures you're using.

Most people familiar with NLP and hypnosis will already have some simple trigger for the "motivated" state, since myriad techniques abound in virtually every book on the subject, even on TV... check out "I Can Make You Thin" sometime. If you encounter sluggishness or resistance once you've already begun your routine, or you're on a treadmill and don't want to stop and go back to your motivational warmup, just fire off your tried and true anchor from when you first started learning NLP techniques.

Another thought- if you're exercising by yourself, it's a great time to tune in to your self-talk. Either silence or make any desired changes to your internal dialogue while exercising. I remember a few times during Aikido training that the training was so demanding of my attention that the dialogue just shut off and great clarity of mind came about. Those moments were fleeting, but they provide reference resources that I can access in other situations. So use your solo exercise as a time to establish all kinds of internal states which you can access more easily at other times.

Posted by Steve in Motivation, NLP, NLP / Hypnosis | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lent and Self-Mastery

Pondering my recent post on Lent, and also the chatter in the blogosphere about "The Secret" or the "Law of Attraction", the thought of how self-sacrifice can apply to self-mastery comes to mind.

So much of what's out there in the pop psychology and self-help world advocates a kind of prosperity consciousness that at times might be going a bit too far. There is definitely a real principle of goal-seeking in our minds that allows us to orient our thoughts toward our goals rather than failures so that our unconscious minds will align with that purpose. But some of what I'm seeing goes a bit further, incorporating new age beliefs and pseudoscientific misuse of metaphors from quantum mechanics. I urge anyone who encounters this to pick up a primer on actual quantum physics and with a bit of effort (there's usually an extensive use of mathematics) you'll see that quantum mechanics might not apply to seeking goals in your life.

Seeking goals and prosperity is a good thing. But if we become addicted to "having" all the time, when external circumstances change we can become very stressed. Periodically taking an inventory and seeing what we can do without helps remove mental attachments that are the basis for some of that stress. A Lenten or Lent-like practice of doing without something can help us keep perspective. Giving up something small is almost like exercising- it can strengthen our will and give us reference experiences when we are forced to give something up by the outside world.

In NLP and motivation in general, we make use of reference experiences all the time. The classic "circle of excellence" that is one of the earilest things many NLPers learn about makes use of  reference experiences- positive ones. Experiences where we excelled. But many of us in comfortable middle class lifestyles haven't had to do without anything serious. And having a small, self-imposed exercise where we give ourselves reference experiences of doing without and staying on top of it will make those resources available when we really need them.

There really is power in being willing and able to sacrifice from time to time (just don't overdo it!). 24/7 prosperity consciousness is a nice trance to be in, but eventually when you run into the "stub-toe" reality where you can deny all you want that you hurt your foot but it remains injured, you'll need to draw on different resources.   

Posted by Steve in Motivation, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beating Blue Monday

Yesterday was supposedly "Blue Monday", the day that some think is the most depressing day of the year. The day when everyone realizes they are not following through on their New Year's resolutions, when the days are still short and with little sunlight, when the cold of winter really sets in.

As I started my new year, being the Aggressive Optimist I shunned the "resolutions" concept and simply searched inside myself, following the AO Manifesto, and generated a burst of attitude and activity that has propelled me past that dreadful Monday of doom.

How can we all do this? Luckily, as Aggressive Optimists we learn from NLP Presuppositions that if somebody can do something, anybody can learn it. And the truth is that I didn't make it up, I myself learned it from another.

I don't have the concrete reference to hyperlink, but if I recall correctly it was Phil Lenahan's newsletter that mentioned having year-round resolutions. Use the new year as a time to set goals, but don't ONLY do it in the new year. Do it year-round so you can have an ongoing buzz of self-reinforcing activity. When you encounter mistakes, correct them rather than abandoning the whole process, which oftentimes happens in the case of dropped New Year's Resolutions.

Use your small successes as "fuel for the fire" and keep on trucking throughout the year.

Phil has some great resources on his site. If you're not religious, don't be turned away by the site's Catholic orientation. His book and his site's tools are very helpful and gel completely with Aggressive Optimism.

Here's to an Optimistic Year!

Posted by Steve in Motivation, Peak Performance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Finding the Sweet Spot of Your Work

I've recently come across Pamela Slim's blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation. After reading for a few days, she's now a permanent part of my feed collection. Pam speaks to those who wish to leave the confinement of their cubicle for the independence of entrepreneurship and a healthy work-life balance. What a mission!

Going back through her archives I found this gem of a post about how she's just about hitting her sweet spot between her blog and her new venture. She explains that:

"at this moment I am getting closer to what I once heard Jim Collins refer to as the sweet spot.  This is the intersection of three interlocking circles: the first is "what people will pay you to do" - marketable skills and abilities that you have developed over your working life.  The second is "that which you have great passion for" - areas of interest, hobbies, ideas or causes that make your heart race.  And the third, and most elusive, is "that which you are genetically encoded to do" - the things that you were brought on this earth to accomplish that no one else on the planet can do as well as you."

Marketable skills can be built up over a career path or through education, and the other two are areas that we can certainly use our skills in hypnosis and NLP to develop and discover. This is a classic application of personal resources: the resource of experience (personal history), and the resource of tools (like hypnosis and motivational techniques). Apply your knowledge in personal enhancement to tweak each variable until the triad becomes that self-feeding loop, sustaining your satisfaction with your life. If something seems to fall out of whack, look at things in light of these three aspects to help re-discover your sweet spot.

It may be that you are hitting the sweet spot right where you are. I know I'm not going to be leaping into entrepreneurship just yet; my current "day job" is quite stimulating and I certainly bring personal uniqueness and interest to my work. When the doldrums of routine set in, it's always possible to wake myself up and create stimulating activity... seeking the sweet spot in your current position should not be overlooked.

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NLP Tips by Jamie Smart, back online!

I'm happy to report that Jamie Smart, of Salad ltd. in the UK, has begun posting his NLP tips online again. He had been sending them out only over email recently, without an online archive. I've added some of those email-only newsletters to this site because they had such great content (and he gives permission at the end of the emails).

Now, you can head over to his site and read them online. I encourage you to do so, this is a very valuable resource.

I own a copy of his 6-CD set, NLP for Business and Personal Success, and highly recommend that as well.

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Habits of a Highly Effective Person

CNNMoney has a nice writeup by Bill Gates about his work habits, how he limits information overload, and prevents information underload. I'd say he's about as effective a person as you can get, similar to Steve Jobs, so take a look and mine this article for all its nuggets.

One nice bit: "Staying focused is one issue; that's the problem of information
overload. The other problem is information underload. Being flooded
with information doesn't mean we have the right information or that
we're in touch with the right people."

Read the entire article for more on how he uses technology, and good work habits to get things accomplished and to vision the future.

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Decisions and Getting Things Done

Anthony Robbins is well-known for advocating the practice of making a decision every day for a certain time period, to come to an understanding of decisionmaking and to get in the habit of making decisions in general. Good advice!

Can we apply the same principle to getting things done? We can. If we're stuck in a rut where many things are started but seemingly few things are completed, we can become frustrated, bogged down, and even depressed.

Climbing out of such a state, which happens even to accomplished changeworkers (how else do we know our techniques work?) is possible. However sometimes even prioritizing tasks can seem overwhelming, so I propose a very simple approach.

Go for the low hanging fruit in such a way that you can solidly accomplish one milestone every day. Use the 80/20 rule to help determine which small projects get the greatest return, and try to knock one of those projects out a day, or at least a visible milestone.

Like paying off debt, eventually your efforts will compound upon one another and you'll be back on top. It's critical to recognize the reality of your situation, but do not get bogged down in thinking about it too much lest you become "stuck" mentally. Identify your status, identify the very next step, and then accomplish that step. Recognize that you accomplished it, then move on.

Give yourself feedback

If you're a list-oriented person, by all means keep your lists around for a while after they are all crossed off! These provide positive feedback; they are essentially reminder notes that yes, you can get things done.

There is a time for massive action, and there is a time for small, progressively compounding accomplishments. Intelligently discern which strategy is called for in a given situation, and you'll find yourself being highly effective.

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Affirmations for Motivation

If you'd like to energize your day with some serious motivation, try these affirmations along with your favorite self-hypnosis  or affirmation technique.

  • I completely and congruently desire X(the goal)
  • I know that X is within my possibilities as a powerful organism
  • I effortlessly access the resources I need to achieve X any time I wish
  • The milestones along the way to X are clear and easy to reach
  • The whole process of getting X is pleasurable
  • Challenges are interesting and fill me with joy and curiosity
  • I thank my unconscious for already taking the necessary steps, automatically and effortlessly
  • My entire ecology is congruent with X, therefore X is simply inevitable

These are some food for thought; adjust and add to them if necessary for your personal taste. This particular set of affirmations (employing a toward or positive motivational strategy) is good for helping to reach the "consider it done" mindset, where your goal is no longer a goal but a foregone conclusion.

Notice also how the "challenges" affirmation can be used from a high level to represent the entire goal seeking process, as well as on a lower level to neutralize unforseen challenges along the way. This provides a snowballing effect that actually increases your motivation as you near the completion of your goal, rather than the all-too-common losing of focus as time goes on.

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