Many of us set goals, but setting goals, and actually getting ourselves to take consistent action towards those goals are two different things.
So how do we get better at controlling our own behavior?
One of the secrets to changing behavior, is to pair behavior with emotion.
A while ago I was listening to a Jay Shetty and he said that from a monks perspective “the greatest power is self control”. That quote really stuck with me. One of the most effective habits I have been trying to incorporate into my lifestyle has been to wake up early. I’ve done a ton of research and its talked about how the beginning of the day is when you have the most will-power and motivation to get things done. I know that I want to incorporate an hour of writing into my schedule everyday and that no matter what is going on during the rest of the day I will not be interrupted in the morning. But, when you have a late night waking up at 5am is usually the last thing you want to do. After listening to Jay Shetty’s perspective I realized getting up in the morning became easier. When I analyze why, I realize that it is because it injected emotion into the act of waking up early.
What do I mean exactly? How did waking up “get easier”? Well, when I learned that power is self control, I understood this to mean that having the self control or self discipline to wake up, even when I was tired, meant that I was harnessing true power. In other words, I stopped snoozing because I felt more powerful when I woke up at the time I intended to and stuck to the promises I made myself. Whenever I felt tired and even thought about snoozing, I immediately asked myself if I considered myself powerful. Then I would jump out of bed.
Another instance where emotion influenced my behavior was during the consistency challenge. For those of you who didn’t read that post, I declared in September that I wanted to try an exercise where I posted consistently for a few days in a row. One thing that helped drive my behavior was that after putting in writing I felt embarassed about the idea of not being consistent. It’s probably the most consistent I’ve been with writing this fall.
Still not convinced?
Think about these scenarios:
If someone put a gun to your head and told you to figure out a way to come up with a 100K , would you find a way?
If you received the news that you were sick and you only had three more months to live, how would your behavior change?
Think about the emotions you would be feeling and how this would spurr you to action. Think about how how the emotions behind doing everyday things would change. Think about how your emotions would become more heightened. Think about how elevated your sense of urgency would become.
In Simon Sinek’s TED talk he discusses the importance of “finding your why”. He talks about the Wright brothers and compares them to the a man named Samuel Pierpont Langley. According to Simon, Samuel had what we assumed to be the formula of success. He was given $50,000 by the war department to figure out how to build an aircraft, was affiliated with Harvard, and was extremely well connected with the greatest minds of his day. The Wright brothers on the other hand did not have any of these things. They had no money and no one on their team had a college education. The difference was that they were driven by a purpose. They believed that inventing an aircraft would change the course of the world. Samuel on the other hand was in pursuit of the fame and glory that would come from building the FIRST machine. We all know that the Wright brothers invented the first airplane. Samuel quit the day they invented it. The point is, when you discover the reason WHY you want to pursue a particular goal, it gets at your emotions. Emotions propel you to action.
The next time you set a goal for yourself, or want to incorporate a new habit into your life, think about WHY you want to do this.