Do you tell yourself you are going to work harder, eat better, exercise more, or change your lifestyle? You commit to it for a few weeks and then you find yourself right back where you started.
It’s funny, a friend of mine asked me the other day, “How do you get so much done every day?” I had to stop and think about it for a minute but then I said, “It’s simple, I don’t read the menu?” Rightfully, she looked at me like I was crazy. What does not reading a menu have to do with getting more done every day?
There are a few key points:
- I plan everything in advance.
- I block my calendar – and I don’t just time block – I block the time for results. For example, I used to block one hour to prospect. Now, I block one hour to make 10 phone calls. Another example is instead of blocking an hour to exercise, you block for the result you want. It could be, 45 minutes of cardio as measured on your Fit Bit. Or one hour of yoga.
- I commit to my calendar. This is the part where not reading the menu comes in. Think about it like this – you go to a restaurant and you have told yourself all day that you are going to eat something healthy and then what happens? YOU READ THE MENU. What happens when you read the menu?? You don’t want to eat healthily. And here is why – your brain is always going to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and seek efficiency (the motivational triad). If you pick up the menu and read it, your primitive brain is going to seek pleasure because that is what it is designed to do! You are going to want to eat a greasy hamburger and fries that much is guaranteed. This is where your prefrontal cortex comes in – we have to learn how to engage our pre-frontal cortex to make decisions ahead of time which helps us reduce the urges we will automatically receive from our primitive brain.
Whether you are trying to eat healthily, get up at a certain time, work on your business, exercise, or fulfill a new goal, your brain is going to tell you it is a bad idea. Why? We feel uncomfortable when we try new things and our primitive brain tells us that our survival is threatened and we should just go back into the cave.
Understanding this phenomenon is an important part of what I call, feel the fear, and do it anyway. We have all heard it but it really is true – if you want to achieve new things or grow, it is going to feel uncomfortable. The way that we can use this to our advantage is to understand it is just our brain trying to protect us. The more we acknowledge this and process the negative emotion, the better we get at taking action, thus producing new results.
Back to my friend, what I realized is that I stay thin because when I go to a restaurant I don’t read the menu. I already know what I am going to eat because I eat pretty much the same thing every day. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “How boring!” which is exactly what my friend thought. I explained to hear that what I learned from Gary Keller (CEO, Keller Williams Realty International) was that freedom is counter-intuitive. If you are ambitious and want to achieve your best life, the way to achieve freedom is by planning. Think about it. If you don’t plan, what will you ever really accomplish? Or even worse you might accomplish stuff that doesn’t even matter.
Not reading the menu, is really a metaphor for a lot of things in our life. Another example is when my alarm goes off I put my feet on the ground and get out of bed. I don’t think about it, I already made the decision ahead of time (last night) so when the alarm goes off I get up.
Here is another way to think about it. Let’s say you want to exercise for one hour there times per week. You schedule one hour on M, W, F at 7:00 am. At 7:00 am, what do you do? More than likely, your brain is going to tell you that you don’t want to do it. First of all, expect that every time you are scheduled to exercise your brain is going to try and talk you out of it. Why? Because it is uncomfortable. Therefore, step one is knowing that your brain is ALWAYS going to try and talk you out of it. This can be a relief because if you know it is going to happen then you can plan for it. The way we handle it is by thinking the thought that will generate the feeling that causes the action of exercise.
Look at it like this – there is a Circumstance that is neutral, you have a Thought about it, that thought produces your Feeling, your feeling causes your Action and your action produces your Results.
Let’s put this into a framework:
C (circumstance): Goal to exercise 1 hour per day three times per week (neutral)
T (thought): I don’t want to exercise
F (feeling): Dread
A (action): You procrastinate and eventually don’t exercise
R (result): You don’t exercise
** Notice how the thought “I don’t want to exercise” creates your result that you don’t exercise.
Now, when your brain tries to tell you that you don’t want to exercise and you know it is just your brain protecting you then you can choose to think a different thought that will help you get the result you want which is to exercise.
Here is an example;
C: Goal to exercise 1 hour per day three times per week (neutral)
T: If I exercise, I will feel great afterward
A: You get on your gear and go to the gym
R: You exercise
** Notice how the thought creates the result that you want. We call this an intentional model.
Essentially, by not reading the menu, you are already acting from your intentional model because you have made a decision ahead of time and are having thoughts that keep you eating healthy.
Whether you want to make long-lasting changes in your life or business, making decisions ahead of time with intention will always produce better results than letting our primitive brain rule our lives. What I find so refreshing about this is that I know now that I can do hard things even when it feels scary. And that when I make decisions ahead of time and complete them, I am honoring myself.
In the end, I encouraged my friend to think about how she wants to live her life and use intentional thoughts on her journey. For all of us, this is the highest reward for ourselves – emotional adulthood. When we move in the world as an emotional adult, we are empowered to create the life, and business, we have always wanted but were always too scared to attempt.
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