The Real Problem
[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]H[/mk_dropcaps]ave you ever paused to consider how powerful our mindsets are on our reality? Think about anyone who has tried to diet, start a new workout routine, or change any detrimental behavior. What determines if they will be successful to bring about the desired change? Is it knowing the right things to do? Having the right resources? While those are important, I'd argue that the determining factor is their mindset. If there is any doubt of success, or fear of failure, that bent will have it's way out and sabotage the process. But that isn't because we are unable to change. Actually it is proof of the power of our mind. The more I study change in people I realize our real problem is our mindset. The mind is where we have our thoughts, will and emotion. Our mindset is the bent that directs all three of these parts. We can pre-set our mind just like we change the setting on our smart phones. The challenge is that we have default settings that we must override (also known as habits). Neurologically, habits are like mechanisms in our brains that increase the efficiency of specific tasks. We can't simply stop a habit and expect that in time it will die out. The best approach actually is to take that habit and transform it. Or in other words shifting our mindset daily.
In the Power of Habit Charles Duhigg shares that habits have 3 key components:
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Cue- the trigger of a habit
Routine- the behavior patterns that cue sets in motion
Reward- the positive reinforcement for following the routine.[/mk_blockquote]
For example, after work you may come home and feel tired (the cue), so then you decide to sit down and watch hours of television (routine), doing so you find you were able to disconnect from the stress of the day (reward). It becomes something you do without thinking.
While it feels automatic, you are not prisoner to your habits. God created us to have all authority on heaven and earth, and that includes over our own habits. The key to bring change is the discipline to increase our awareness. Using Duhigg's terminology, we need to start by clarifying what the cue and the reward is of a habit, to then be able to transform the routine. It is a choice. One that must be made daily until it too becomes a habit, and even then we must continue in our awareness of our behaviors to ensure we stay on course. It is simple, but not easy. It takes commitment and discipline over time to see the habit transform.
To illustrate further let's go back to our TV watching example. Perhaps you want to become more active and improve your health so you identify that the amount of time you're spending in front of the TV is not beneficial. You commit to workout out consistently instead. Instead of simply saying " I will not watch TV, but instead I'll go workout." You dig into think about what triggers you into lazy behavior. Perhaps it is coming home from work before going to the gym. You decide to pack a gym bag and bring it with you every day. As you close out your work day you feel tired (the cue), but you have set your mind on a new routine. Because you are aware of your old habit you set in motion a new routine by deciding to go to the gym. After your workout you still get the same reward (disconnecting from the stress of your day), with the added bonus of endorphins. Your mood lifts and when you come home you're refreshed and more engaged with your family because of the change of routine. You find that in time (research shows it is about 66 days to cement a new habit) it has become almost automatic. This one small shift sets in motion other beneficial routine changes that transform old and unhealthy habits to healthy ones.
The linchpin is the mindset that you can change. That is both our real problem, and our real solution. God made us and gave us a "fruit basket" of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is not on our own strength, but simply because we are His.
As a result we can pull out the self-control and forbearance we need to make lasting change. I find the only true source for lasting transformation is leaning on the strength of the Lord. Through Jesus' example of living a life without sin or fault, we see we have within us all we need for transformation. We will not be perfect in this life, however we do have the opportunity to walk with and learn from the one who does. This truth that I've uncovered in developing the Rhythm of Results program has dramatically encouraged and challenged me. I am still a work in progress and don't have it figured all out, but I do know change is possible. I know that results are best achieved with others, and a slow steady plan to allow us the necessary reps to strengthen our habits into ones that are lasting.
Knowing all this, what is the next habit you want to upgrade? I'd love to hear about how you're going in your journey to support you along the way.