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Episode 68: Cultivating Self Discipline & Self Regulation

How to develop two important skills that will help you achieve results in any area of life!

I really wanted to do an episode on self-discipline because it’s an interesting topic and it really conjures up mixed feelings. 

In over 4,000 coaching hours, one of the most common wishes my clients have is to have more self-discipline or self-control, so they can be consistent with healthy habits and achieve their goals.

Have you had that thought, yourself?

If so, you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about what self-discipline is, how it relates to self-regulation, and the key steps you need to build both of these skills.

 

Let’s start with a question

When you hear the word self discipline – how do you feel?

A lot of people hear the word self discipline and immediately feel uncomfortable or a sense of dread, or that hard work or punishment is ahead. 

I believe that attaching negative thoughts and feelings to words is a big part of the reason we find it hard. We’re making self-discipline into something to be disliked, feared or avoided.

But in reality, discipline is something that we need in order to persist for long enough to achieve anything in life.

You know that if you are disciplined with exercise then you will have a fit and healthy body and a lower risk of disease. 

If you’re disciplined with food then you’ll maintain a healthy weight and your energy levels. 

If you’re disciplined in your business or at work then you’ll be productive, you’ll get a lot done and you’ll achieve things – and probably make more money. 

If you’re disciplined with budgeting and saving then you will accumulate wealth.

Having heard all of that, how do you feel about the word self-discipline, now?

To me, reflecting on the benefits makes it seem more attractive, and something worth cultivating.

I think it gives you a better understanding of your relationship with self-discipline.

That will allow you to unlock your personal secrets to cultivating self-discipline so you can do, be and achieve more in your life.

Along the way, I invite you to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings to see where the truth lies.

Self-discipline versus self-regulation

To define self-discipline we must also look at the word self-regulation. 

They are two different things that work together, but come from different parts of your brain.

In reality, discipline is something that we need in order to persist for long enough to achieve anything in life.

Self-discipline is the ability to control your feelings and overcome urges. It is more about making decisions and taking actions in the moment.

Strong emotional impulses happen in your limbic system, which is the primitive, reactive part of your brain.

On the other hand, self-regulation is about reducing the frequency and intensity of those urges by managing stress-load and recovery. It is a longer-term, more automatic thing.

The longer term process of self-regulation is what makes self-control possible, or even unnecessary!

Your prefrontal cortex – the rational, reflective part of your brain – is the part that processes thoughts, makes decisions and takes control and that is where self-regulation happens.

Consider how this works in an example.

The Smell of Doughnuts

Let’s say you’re walking through a shopping mall on a mission to buy something, and then you smell the strong, heady aroma of spicy cinnamon doughnuts.

Your mouth waters.

You look around for the source of that amazing smell.

You see the hot doughnuts travelling on the conveyor belt, people closing their eyes with delight as they sink their teeth into the hot, fluffy dough.

Your brain screams – I WANT SOME!

But suddenly your self-discipline kicks in and you tell yourself – HEY – I am going to say NO.

Your self-regulation then kicks in – that is, your pre-determined beliefs, rationale and coping strategies. 

You rationalise the doughnut decision by thinking about your longer term goals – I want to be consistent with healthy eating. I have just had a healthy lunch, why would I want to spoil that with a sugary fat-sponge?

And although you’re tempted in the moment, you use these thoughts and also perhaps a strategy of distraction to refocus on your shopping mission and walk away from the doughnut.

This is an example of self-discipline and self-regulation in action.

So there are two skills to master here:

  1. Resisting an urge in the moment (self-discipline), and
  2. Defining your beliefs, standards, goals and how to monitor and uphold them.

The Benefits of Self-Regulation

If you have good self regulation then you have the ability to keep your emotions and behaviours in check.

It means you have the ability to resist impulsive behaviours so that you don’t need to keep relying on willpower, which is a finite resource.

Good self-regulation means that you are able to cheer yourself up, and find motivation to do everything that you need to do.

There are two parts of self-regulation – behavioural and emotional self regulation.

Behavioural self-regulation means that you’re able to consistently act in line with your values and for your best long-term interests. 

Even if you don’t feel like doing something you will do it anyway. 

For example you might wake up on a Friday morning and not feel like going to work, but you still do it anyway because you know that it’s going to bring you the money that you need to live a healthy and productive life.

Emotional regulation is being able to influence or control your emotions. 

It means that you’re able to talk yourself down from catastrophe, or that you can calm yourself down after being angry, get yourself out of a bad mood or avoid emotional outbursts at other people. It means that you’re not overly reactive to the situations around you.

Why are we disciplined in some areas and not others?

Let’s explore this conundrum.

I bet that you show up to work every day. 

You probably don’t eat lollies for breakfast. 

It makes sense that brushing your teeth is 100% not negotiable.

All of these things show that you are using self-discipline, but more broadly – self-regulation. 

Even if you want to lie in bed all day, eat lollies for breakfast or stop brushing your teeth, you simply don’t give in.

As you can tell, self discipline and self-regulation are really important parts of wellbeing.

Then why, oh why, can’t we be like this in ALL areas?

You’d be surprised how many thousands of unconscious thoughts you have running through your mind; so well practised and ingrained that you barely notice them. 

If you are mindful and watching your thoughts then you’re able to catch those thoughts before they lead to automatic actions. 

Maybe you have trained your brain to give into urges – that is, to reward those urges – so they keep getting stronger.

Maybe you haven’t made decisions about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t. 

You might be starting a new habit that you’ve never done before, and you haven’t sorted out your standards, reasons for change, motivators, and how to monitor and get back on track, so you are relying solely on willpower which research shows, is a finite resource.

These are skills gap for a lot of people. And that certainly explains why so many people fail to stick to new habits; they simply aren’t aware of what’s required to develop self-discipline and self-regulation.

It’s one of the reasons why working with a coach is so important – to learn the process of managing urges and developing self-regulation, and to get accountability and support to work through both.

Cultivating Self-Discipline / Managing Urges

The process of managing urges is simple, and it draws on three things:

  1.     self-awareness,
  2.     mindfulness and
  3.     self-compassion.

Here are the steps to manage an urge when you feel tempted.

Step 1 – watch your thoughts and feelings through the day

Step 2 – notice when you are tempted to do something e.g. work late, or give in to doughnuts.

Step 3 – allow the urge – sit with it the moment and notice that you have it. DON’T resist it – feel it. Be uncomfortable for a moment without judgement.

Step 4 – notice when the urge decreases.

Step 5 – reward yourself with something positive.

It’s a really simple process that simply requires practice. You will build an incredible amount of self-discipline if you follow this process.

Developing Self-Regulation 

Now let’s talk about developing self-regulation. 

Building self-regulation is more of a process of deciding in advance what you truly want and what feels aligned with your values, how you want to act, and how you will monitor and stay on track with that.

For any area you want to change, you could simply ask yourself these questions for any ONE area that you want to change:

  1. Why is that important to me/what will I get if I do?
  2. What would a realistic (and enjoyable) standard look like?
  3. How will I monitor myself?
  4. What are my triggers for falling off track?
  5. What are some strategies I can use to stay on track when I notice those triggers?

These questions will allow you to discover what you truly want and why, and to arm yourself with ways to check in with yourself and manage urges.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that health is a really strong value of yours because you want to remain active and avoid disease as you age.

You know that exercising three to four days per week would be both realistic, and about the right standard for you. 

You decide that an exercise schedule in your diary will be your best way of monitoring your exercise.

You also choose to monitor your thoughts about the exercise on those days so you can work out your triggers for doing it or not doing it.

During that monitoring, you might notice yourself sometimes trying to get out of the workouts:

  • You have a busy day so you tell yourself you’re too tired or it’s too cold. 
  • You are feeling emotional so you tell yourself that you don’t feel up to it, or you feel too fragile

It’s your ability to notice that sort of mental chatter and then to do the work out anyway that defines self-regulation.

That’s where your strategies come in.

Perhaps you decide that after a busy day you will do a different kind of workout, or call a friend for accountability.

Maybe you decide that on emotional days, you will go to a PLAN B session time that you have penciled in just in case that happens.

These are just examples, but you can see how the thinking work right at the beginning can determine your success or failure.

A Word on Standards

Something that really stands out for me in that model of self-regulation is that we often try to live up to other people’s standards instead of our own. 

Or we may have unrealistic standards for ourselves because we haven’t really reflected on what’s realistic and achievable given everything else going on in our lives. 

So if you want to become better at self-regulation and self-discipline, the first thing to do would be to get really clear on what your standards are what’s in what’s achievable and realistic.

This can also be hard for some people. It means you really need to step up and take responsibility for your own actions – including any win, loss, pass or fail. That can feel a little scary, but that is way better than the disappointment of inaction!

Summary

Self-discipline is your ability to control urges as they come up, whereas self-regulation is your ability to control your emotional and physical behaviour in line with your beliefs and moral compass.

Although you may have a negative view of the word discipline, combined with self-regulation, it is really important for your well-being. 

People who are stronger in the area of self-regulation are more self-confident, they have greater life satisfaction, supported and are able to deal with stressful situations or difficult people more easily. They are more likely to persist and achieve goals.

Building self-regulation is more of a process of deciding in advance what you truly want and what feels aligned with your values.

Cultivating self-discipline requires self awareness and an ability to say no to urges and temptation so you can uphold your own personal standards for behaviour or emotions.

Cultivating self-responsibility means taking the time to set those standards, monitor them, and develop strategies to uphold them.

It can be super helpful to work with a coach to help you cultivate these two important skills for greater wellbeing and a more fulfilling and successful life – especially if you are someone who typically expects a lot of yourself, consider yourself to be a perfectionist, or lack confidence in your ability to stay on track.

Ready to develop better self discipline and self regulation?

These skills will increase your confidence, give you greater life satisfaction and help you achieve your goals! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 66: 5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity

If you want a more enriching and fulfilling life, keep listening to learn what positivity really is and 5 ways to get more of it in your life.

What is positivity?

Before we can talk about how to increase positivity, we’d better define it. After all, some things will feel positive for me, while other things will feel positive for you.

And that being said, based on the landmark work of PhD Barbara Fredrickson, I’d like to define positivity like this:

“Positivity comes in many shapes and sizes; it is the cousin of the more hedonistic ‘pleasure’, it is based in love, and it is expressed in ten main forms”.

Positivity underpins success in any area of life and what I love about it is that it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.

Yes, negativity exists and has a purpose. In the Taoist sense, we could not know and appreciate positivity without its opposite, negativity.

And life was never meant to be 100% positive – but we have the capacity to improve and develop positive habits so that we can enjoy a more enriched experience of life.

Barbara Fredrickson defines ten forms or aspects of positivity:

  • Joy – relishing the bright, light feelings that come up when things feel right
  • Gratitude – the acknowledgement of all that you have
  • Serenity – the sense of peace that everything is as it should be
  • Interest – a sense of feeling engaged, fascinated and compelled to explore
  • Hope – a sense of optimism and belief that things can change
  • Pride – a sense of accomplishment of what you have said or done
  • Amusement – the freedom of laughter, sharing and connection 
  • Inspiration – the ability to transcend the ordinary and rivet attention
  • Awe – noticing goodness on a grand scale, and
  • Love – the glue that binds it all together. Love raises your levels of oxytocin, the feel good hormone, and progesterone, both of which create biological responses linked with lifelong bonds, trust and intimacy.

Researchers have created something called the Positivity Ratio, which quantifies your positive and negative emotions and gives you a tool to increase positivity in your own life.

I’ll talk about the ratio in another episode but for now, let’s explore positivity in more depth so you understand what it is and why it’s important, and some ways of building it.

Why does positivity matter?

There are lots of reasons why, but here are five great reasons I can think of. 

  • Positivity is attractive 

We love to be around people who create a positive energy and atmosphere. It helps us to relax, let our guard down and feel more engaged and connected.

  • Positivity in tribes can empower member persistence

Tribes have greater capacity to achieve more in a positive way than any individual could on their own. 

This is important when it comes to personal goals too; often people lack confidence in themselves, motivation to persist and lack the support they need to gain momentum and achieve. 

Purposeful, positive tribes can help us to stretch and grow beyond what we thought was possible because we are invested in the bigger vision. 

In a supportive tribe, we may be more likely to persist with something until we achieve it.

  • Positivity kills stress 

Without harping on the kajillions of studies out there, stress is clearly one of modern society’s biggest killers and disablers.

Yes, lower stress and more positivity can slow down aging and reduce the risk of many diseases and the bad habits that cause them.

But more immediately, being positive fosters an open, creative brain state that is essential for solving problems, making decisions, building businesses and persisting toward our desired success. 

  • Positivity improves our experience of life 

How does feeling positive impact your day to day life?

I spoke with someone recently who noticed a dozen shifts in their behaviour and experience of life as a result of being more positive.

The first shift this person mentioned was more collaborative relationships. They were able to better connect with their partner and family, with greater forgiveness, openness and without any judgement.

They felt better equipped to uphold personal boundaries and make better decisions, which in turn fostered a sense of self confidence.

They were able to be more proactive with their health and wellbeing habits.

They felt more able to take action with some of the tasks in their business that they perceived as being ‘difficult’, and which they might struggle with on a less resilient day.

  • Positivity builds resilience and an upward spiral, via the ‘broaden and build’ concept

In a nutshell, the more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.

And for anyone embarking on change – losing weight, building a business, starting a new relationship or job – resilience is about your capacity to cope and thrive.

The more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.

What Can Positivity Do For Your Business?

Positivity is vital for any business owner.

Working on your own, coping with the good and bad, juggling many roles and handling suppliers and staff, there’s a lot that can create stress, sap your energy or knock your confidence. 

Building positivity can counteract these things.

Positivity attracts people who are forward looking, who wish to change and who want to be part of something. It’s a great recipe for attracting the right clients.

Business is also a creative pursuit – and stress is the opposite of creativity. As I mentioned before, by bringing more positivity into your life, you can roll with the punches of life more easily.

5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity

If you’re in my Habitology membership then you know we are looking at many options for increasing positivity and you are working through those this month.

I am really interested to know how this is impacting your business and your life and excited about doing this work with you.

For this podcast though, I want to share my favourite ways of increasing positivity. 

I like these because they are simple, take very little time, and they’re very effective.

1. Dispute negative thinking

This one is a no-brainer. Most of us have faulty thinking patterns that we repeat, and it is our work to notice these and turn them from emotive statements into factual statements. 

This can help us to unlearn those patterns and create healthier thinking without any drama involved. There are several ways you can do this.

2. Connect with others

Often people these days feel isolated and lonely, yet connection with others is said to be a key part in the longevity of our oldest living people across the world. 

Even if you are struggling, reaching out via a text message, phone conversation or visiting a friend can bring a sense of wellbeing and positivity.

3. Connect with nature

There is much to be said about connecting with nature; we experience awe, gratitude, serenity, inspiration and love. It facilitates mindfulness.

It is easy to do and requires no tools. This is simple and powerful.

4. Assess your media diet

Media catastrophizes everything and divides and conquers people based on opinion pieces and bias. Being selective with what you read and watch, and who you listen to, can make a massive difference to your state of mind.

5. Reconstruct your day

This is a bigger exercise but can be transformational. You write down how you spend the major chunks of time in your typical day – for example, waking, breakfast, driving to work, eating lunch, etc, and you rate your level of positivity for each of these events.

This gives you so many clues about where circumstances might conjure up negative emotions, so you can then take steps to do something about these, and to build and increase the positives that you experience.

Here are two examples.

Let’s say that you notice that you feel anxious at your weekly staff meeting because there is a difficult person who always creates tension.  You could decide to change your thinking about this person to decrease the negative emotions – for example – wondering what positives might be coming out of this, or perhaps feeling compassion for them that they are behaving like this.

On the flipside, you might also notice that you enjoy your lunch breaks outside. You could build on this positive experience by practicing mindfulness during this time, by walking and exploring the area after you’ve eaten, or perhaps to invite a friend to join you for part or all of the lunch break to increase your sense of connectedness.

In both cases you are proactively changing your attitude and experience of that time in your day to build more positivity into your life.

Summary

Ok, let’s recap what we’ve covered today.

Positivity is a recognised science that is defined by feeling a suite of 10 positive emotions. Positivity has been quantified into a measure, which I’ll talk about in another episode.

There are so many benefits that come out of increasing your positivity; but to sum it up, positivity creates more positivity in your life and a better experience of work, life, relationships and yourself.

Positivity underpins success in any area of life and it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.

Five simple ways to build positivity could include disputing your negative thoughts, connecting with others, connecting with nature, assessing your media diet and reconstructing your day. 

These are just a few – others like gratitude journalling and acts of kindness are things that create positivity too.

I invite you to reflect on this for yourself and ask what your life might be like if you were more positive.

If you need help to get on top of this, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology on how you can get the help you need to become a more positive, fulfilled person.

Ready to increase positivity?

What might your life be like if you were more positive? If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 63: 5 Steps To Increase Your Buyability

I want to talk today about the concept of buyability and increasing your buyability.

Yes, I think buyability is a made up word! 

The concept is about what makes you and your services easy to purchase – so people become willing or even desperate to buy from you.

I want to explore this concept FULLY in this episode so you can do what’s necessary to sort out your services and the marketing of them, to make them compelling, mouth watering and irresistable.

I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars on sales and marketing training.

But it’s the thousands of sales conversations that have taught me the most. 

A person’s tone of voice and body language give more clues about whether someone will buy or not, than any training course can.

To become more buyable, you need to combine the theory of sales and marketing with emotional intelligence and a bit of BQ.

Trust Comes First

The foundation of buying a service is trust. 

If somebody doesn’t like or trust you, it’s highly unlikely that they will buy from you.

That’s why people say marketing is ‘the long game’. 

It takes time and consistently showing up to build trust and rapport and relationship, to lay the foundation for a future sale.

If you try leading with sales because you’re desperate to earn money, you’ll break trust.

Now, here are the 5 steps to increase your buyability. 

Step #1 – Be clear about who you are, who you are not, and what you stand for.

People buy your why. They buy from you because you are similar to them in values, experience, personality or demographic.  

So you must first figure out who you are and who you naturally attract, so you can enhance and focus your marketing to those people. 

Example: My mission is to help mothers to regain their career confidence and get back into the workforce so that they can create independent wealth and feel valued.

Action step: write out your vision. Then, dig deep and find out what drives you. What your bigger mission is in the world. The impact you want to have. 

This will help you discover the values and motivators about your much bigger mission.

Step #2 – Discover the ONE thing that keeps them awake at night, worrying.

People buy when they are emotional or irrational about a problem they can’t solve.  

When you find out what that problem is, you can show people how your service can help them solve it.

Example: I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and loathe what you see. That’s why I created this program – to help you start accepting and even loving yourself as you are.

Action step: have conversations with at least 10 people who are your ideal clients to discover what their biggest challenge is, and the words they use to describe it.  

People buy for emotive reasons, when they have a big problem they can’t solve or a big vision they need help to achieve, from people that they know, like and trust. 

Step #3 – Describe your services as benefits or results they will get, using their own ‘feeling’ words.

People buy results – and more importantly, they buy when the offer you make is clearly and specifically describing the result they think they want or need.  

Don’t assume you know what people want or that you know better. This is actually condescending at words, and ignorant at best. 

Example: In 8 weeks, you will reclaim your get up and go and feel motivated, energized and committed to your fitness. 

Action step: have conversations with at least 10 people who are your ideal clients to discover what their biggest challenge is, and the words they use to describe it.  

Step #4 – Describe who your service is for, and not for.

People buy when they are ready, willing and able to do the work they need to do to get the result they want. 

You don’t want uncommitted people or tyre-kickers. By listing the specific traits of your buyer, you are helping people identify themselves as someone you can help. The time wasters won’t bother to enquire.

Example: This program is for women who struggle with anxiety and it’s affecting their relationships, and they are finally ready to get some help to fix things.

This program is NOT for you if you are unwilling to get out of your comfort zone, or if you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Action step: based on the conversations you’ve had, get really clear on who you naturally attract, are best suited to working with and who is ready to buy. You can use that to create some text to describe who you are and aren’t looking for. 

Step #5 – You will find your ideal client where YOU are.

Back to Step 1 – people buy from those who are similar. Your ideal client is 70 – 80% like you. 

So use marketing strategies and tactics that leverage your skills and strengths.

Example: you hate going on social media and prefer meeting people face to face. Your ideal client will probably also hate social media. 

So stop trying to force yourself to go there, build a website instead, and get out to networking meetings.

Action step: If you have completed steps 1 – 4, you should have a description of what you sell, to who, how they benefit, and who it’s for and not for. Armed with that information, you are ready to start marketing. 

Choose 3 marketing strategies that best suit your personality, learning style and communication skills. Then, for each, define the tactics you will use to reach out to clients. Then make a plan to start doing them through the year.

It is this last step that will generate you a consistent set of leads and sales. You will probably need to treat your first 3 – 9 months as a big experiment and give each tactic a red hot go for at least 6 months to see what works and what doesn’t.

It takes time and consistently showing up to build trust and rapport and relationship, to lay the foundation for a future sale.

Summary

People buy for emotive reasons, when they have a big problem they can’t solve or a big vision they need help to achieve, from people that they know, like and trust. 

Usually we buy from people who are like us. 

If you follow the five steps in this episode, you will increase your buyability, because you will more likely connect with and engage with potential clients in places where you both like to meet others.

Ready to work on your marketing strategy?

Send me an email to request more information on a tailored service I offer. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 7: How To Live and Work Like an Athlete

Episode 7: How To Live and Work Like an Athlete

This podcast will help you create balance and endurance in your life. 

I would like to introduce you to a confounding problem and a life-changing solution.

As a Health and Wellness Coach, I have learned so much from my clients.

I’ve learned that a problem we all face is how to be consistent with our habits.

A lot of my clients want to eat salad every day, go to the gym four times per week, and cut out all junk food, chocolate or alcohol.

They try so hard to be consistent, yet they all struggle to manage their time, energy, money and/or calories – anything else that requires that repetitive, continuous effort.

Through my work as a Biologist, I have learned that we are wired to run on autopilot.  Our brains LOVE the consistent, repetitive, predictable routine because it’s energy efficient.

So how can it be that we are creatures of habit, yet we struggle with consistency?

On the surface, it seems like a confounding problem. But what’s really going on?

When we say we want to be consistent, we think that means ‘continuous repetition.’ I’d like to offer a more realistic definition of consistency and show you how you can achieve it.

First, let’s consider the fact that nearly everything we do in our lives involves cycles. Nature provides daily, weekly, monthly and yearly triggers that every living thing responds to.

Instead of responding to that natural rhythm, we fight it.

We are convinced that we must do exactly the same thing every day.

When I work with clients who think like this, I find they struggle to form new habits, or even just cope with sudden changes in their home life, relationships and work. They’re too inflexible.

On the flipside, I’ve had several coaching clients who like to be totally flexible and live in the moment – but this has its own set of pitfalls. These clients often find it hard to stick to routines, set boundaries or commit to things. Consequently, they may struggle to build relationships, lose weight, save money, get new clients, build a business or feel a sense of purpose.

The facts are this: we are wired to live on autopilot, yet our environment demands us to be agile. Many people swing to either extreme, but what we really need is a middle ground. Let’s redefine consistency in that context. I propose that consistency means ‘cyclic repetition.’ That is, we are agile enough to adapt our regular habits to fit with the cycles of nature.

As Charles Darwin famously said:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

I’d like to offer a compelling rationale for this definition of mine and then explain how you can get it. The rationale is simply this – all living things naturally respond to the sun, moon and seasonal cycles. It’s called a circadian rhythm and there are daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual cycles that make up this circadian rhythm.

Each day, the intensity of the sun and day length affect our sleep, temperature, blood pressure, hormones and energy levels. Each month the moon influences our hormonal and sleep cycles. Even at the seasonal level, we have shifts in mood (such as seasonal affective disorder in winter) and changes in food preferences and cravings (in winter we tend to want heavier, starchier meals – and this happens to coincide with the types of foods that grow best at that time of year).

The trouble is our brains love running on autopilot, we love this ‘set and forget’ way of being.

What we need is a plan for our year – our season – broken into work and rest phases.

Athletes have a pretty good formula for operating at peak performance.

We can learn a thing or two from this. We can learn to live and work like athletes.

Depending on the sport, the pre-season to competition season is around 6 – 9 months. 

Take AFL football as an example, where the season runs from late February to early October.

  •         They spend 2 – 3 months building general endurance and training at low intensity.
  •         The next 2 – 3 months are sport-specific training and maximal strength.
  •         Then they ramp up to competition by alternating hard training with easy training sessions.

They are at peak fitness then, ready to bring their very best to the final games. 

Then they have an off season where they go on holiday, and for 4 – 12 weeks to allow for the body to recover both physically and psychologically.

What we can see is this: athletes recognise that their bodies can’t go full on all year round.

Yet when I see my coaching client Sue, she is extremely worried because she doesn’t feel like eating salad all year round. She is struggling to go to the gym 5 days per week for the whole year. She pushes herself at work every day and wonders why she is stressed and exhausted. She hasn’t had a holiday in 3 years. Sue is pushing the proverbial up hill.

The athletes have got it wired. What we need is a plan for our year – our season – broken into work and rest phases.

The reason we create a plan is that it’s a ‘set and forget’ approach that allows us to make the decisions all in one go, then simply run on autopilot. That is how we give our bodies the regularity and agility that they need. We create a plan for the year that involves times of peak effort and times of rest. We cycle our exercise and eating approach. We cycle our sleep and waking habits.

But we write it all down. That way, there’s no need to use brain power to make decisions every day when we’re busy. 

We just follow what’s on the plan – and perhaps review it every quarter to make sure we’re on track.

That way we can know we are on course to achieve everything we want. We’re never bored. We’re never expecting too much of ourselves. There’s no room for guilt.

We have a way of living and working that ticks all the boxes and creates that cyclic consistency that we need to thrive.

 

Ready to create balance and endurance in your life?

You too could live and work like an athlete! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: