Do you ever get pissed off when something is SO OBVIOUS but you still didn’t think of it?  This is one of those.  And I hate it.  Don’t feel too horrible, I had to be told also, but dammit it’s frustrating isn’t it?

So Behavioral change is basically the bee’s knees.  The last two posts I’ve written about it are High Value Goal setting and Avoiding Mediocrity.  They are vital to this if you’re new here.

Well let’s get to it.  There are two elements that make up this secret sauce and they will anger you.

Limiting behaviors

No more than 3 new behaviors at a time.  Simple right?  Let’s use an example.  So…

Cherryl tells you about her new year’s weight loss plan.  As you talk, you learn she’ll be eating healthier, working out, cooking for herself, and learning about fitness.  When you ask, she says her goal is “to lose weight.”  Cherryl will fail and you should kill her.  Then resurrect her and point her to my High Value Goal post.  Because she is just atrocious.

Okay apart from the HVG violations, she’s also taking on too much.  Each behavior she mentions is a compound behavior, meaning that she is actually doing at least 3 things for each activity.  And very VERY quickly she’ll burn out and give up except she’ll actually be “lower” than when she started because she’ll have the added fun of feeling guilty about failing.

Let’s break this down in case you’ve got a little bit of Cherryl in you.

Let’s pretend she only has one goal: Eating healthier–well that requires learning what “healthy” is which means: trudging through hours of internet forums and learning about all the different opinions, avoiding scammy sites but learning enough to avoid them first, and reading a book or two.

And notice how that’s not even touching on the actual act of eating?  If she’s less research heavy then “eating healthy” still means buying unfamiliar groceries(which itself requires some hefty changes in learning to price different things, learning what she likes, learning which brands to buy and which to avoid), bringing them home, cooking them, and cleaning up after.

Maybe she’s not interested in cooking at home.  So now she would have to find which “healthy” restaurants there are and then budget them into her spending.  THAT might be the only actual change she could effect so we have a more refined “Eating at healthier restaurants more often” (inline critique–what does “more often” mean exactly? … GAH!  I hate you cherryl!!!!).

All of those wrong turns would of course be avoided with the High Value Goal approach and Cherryl is an extreme example but you have to realize how many behaviors you’re actually asking of yourself.  Then limit them to 3 over say… a month.

Why a month?  Because a month is long enough to decide if you really like this behavioral change or not.   You won’t like every change but you should learn what you do like, keep what you like as a “forever” change and ditch what you don’t.  Then for the next month set a new set of 3 behaviors until you’ve got your life exactly where you want it.

But what else?  

Planning for Lazy By Removing Thought

If you like fictional navy SEALs like Sam Fisher (and probably real ones, I just don’t know that for a fact) then you’ve heard of the Six P’s.  Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  Seems straightforward but few people carry this out far enough.

For behavioral change it means you have to batch or remove ALL your thinking as much as you can.  Because, frankly, reading posts like this very one, strategizing your life sucks.  It just does and that doesn’t really change.  If you have to think EVERY day about EVERYTHING, you’ll just revert to what you were doing before–which had less thought.

So let’s take my workout plan for example: I actually stopped working out because of a lack of novelty.  I couldn’t surprise myself.  The solution?  Signing up for a “Spartan Work Out Of The Day” email list.  For 3 days / week, my workout buddy and me just checked our emails and everyday we had a different workout.  If it was too easy, we even had the days we didn’t work out that we could swap in.  And how long do you think we stuck with it?  30 days was easy.  Hell we’d still be doing it if it wasn’t too cold to run out (and yes… that does make us huge, wimpy nutsacks, we know and accept this.)  And what do you think our results were?  90 second planks used to be really hard for me.  But under someone else’s expectations, we flourished.  At our height, we did 24 minutes of a plank.  You read that right, for almost half an hour, I was planking.  My limits were pushed and we persevered.

It’s always good to mess with your expectations after long enough.  But I really want you to understand what we did.  We removed our thought.  Every day, the workout came.  And we did it.  Combined with the fact that we had to “pony up” to the other guy, we had a beautiful recipe for behavioral change.  That’s all we did.  We didn’t even set High Value Goals for ourselves.  And that’s the point… If you just take one or two of these tips, it could be life changing, but more on that in a second.

So let’s get a little more specific with removing thought (assuming you can’t hire a personal trainer or sign up for a workout email list thing to do the thinking for you).  Once you have your high-value goal, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you have to do.  So plan it out.  Every day you’re doing it (12 days if it’s a 3x/week sort of thing) write out exactly what you’re going to do.  Plan it out by hours if you really want.  This is how I created my self-defense curriculum–and the reason why is because I knew I wouldn’t teach that well if I had to plan the lesson EVERY day.  Instead I put all the thinking up front and once we got started, I just had to check the calendar everyday.

So there it is, 2 “secret sauce” tips to behavioral change.  And to be perfectly clear, if you haven’t been reading along you really need to check out “High Value Goal setting” and “Avoiding Mediocrity” to get a clear picture on behavioral change.

Just the tip

I want you to understand what has happened here.  You’ve got the sum total of The Most Valuable Things I’ve Ever Learned.  These three posts tagged under Behavioral Change are exactly why I’m where I am.  For certain behaviors they all aren’t necessary.  Like I said above, we actually only removed our thought and had some consequences of the other guy’s judgement to effect our behavioral change of working out more (notice how that’s NOT a high value goal?).  Each of these things is like an ingredient and the recipe is behavioral change.  Some recipes are different and you’ll find you only need certain elements.

But none of it took off until I had all of the puzzle pieces.  And I’m still finding them.  If you’d like to find them with me, follow me and share this around.  We can all stand to be a little more Navy SEAL/Einstein-ey.  (100% privacy.  No spam.  No B.S.)

Leave a comment about the “recipes” that work for you.