Ean Weichselbaum

~Transcendence~

Monthly Archives: April 2016

Engineering A Streamlined Process Of Change

478259061If you did not tap out reading the title here is what today’s article is about:

Change is necessary for growth. Agree?
Change is challenging and makes life fun. Right?
Change is always easy and straightforward. True?
Well, not always. But today’s article is about how we can make change be more flawless, easy and enjoyable (plus effective and long-term as well as a byproduct).

Remember REPOH for later:

  • Through Repetition an act becomes Easy, making it Pleasurable to do it which leads to you doing it Often which leads to it becoming a HABIT.

What I noticed is that my brain is very much addicted to it’s habits.
To the point that it sometimes outright rejects new behaviours and concepts even
if I’m convinced with all my heart that I want to adopt them. Even if people who are succeeding with the things I want to be successful with are exhibiting exactly these behaviours right in front of my nose. Even if it’s really really obvious. Many a time I have found myself reverting back to old behaviour, although I was trying my best to establish a new one.

So on to my practical theory on change:

You set a goal and decide on a certain outcome. Your expectations of yourself change, your standards for yourself change. You make a plan which involves a behavioural change. You take action. It goes well for some time -> there is progress. Then, inevitaboly, setbacks happen. fluctuations in progress. Your brain tries to revert back to old behaviour.
The reason why this happens is because until a certain point is reached the old behaviour is a stronger habit than the new one. It’s still more in alignment with your (old) identity, feels more like “you” for your brain. This induces your brain to exhibit this behaviour. Understand that it’s your active conditioning!
So now you really only have two options:

Option 1: You get really frustrated.

You feel like failing. You don’t understand why this change is not working out for you. You get distracted, your focus is fractionated. Your physiology is negative. You feel uncomfortable. STOP!
Every single one of these behaviours is taking you in the opposite direction of your desired behavioural change. Feeling uncomfortable and unsuccessful makes you brain look for good feelings and comfort – doing something your brain is good at and that it’s used to. Something that feels safe -> Your old behaviour.
At these points of fluctuation and apparent! setbacks in your progress it is absolutely essential that you get a hold on your emotional reactions by understanding why this is happening.
Then you can re-focus and concentrate your effort to keep reinforcing the new behaviour.
Let me insert a quote from Brian Johnson’s amazing Newsletter quoting Timothy Pychyl:

“This self-change process is uneven. We truly do feel like one day we leap ahead and the next day
we fall back. Although we have to be committed to change and firm in our efforts to be strategic, we also have to be kind to ourselves during this challenging process. We all face setbacks, disappointing moments, and frustrations with our apparent lack of progress. Your attitude toward these setbacks and yourself will be extremely important to your continued progress. Be kind but firm with yourself, and be willing to forgive yourself when you do not live up to your own expectations. One of our recent studies was about this issue of self-forgiveness and procrastination. It has important implications for each of us as we take the self-change journey. What we found was that self-forgiveness for procrastination was related to less procrastination in the future.”

—Timothy A. Pychyl from Solving the Procrastination Puzzle

This brings me to
Option 2: Forgiving yourself and moving on

This enables your brain to learn the new behaviour. The more you now keep doing the new behaviour and keep rewarding yourself for every little step while reframing the setbacks and quickly forgiving yourself, because you now understand why it happened and why it will probably happen again in the future, as these fluctuations are part of the process of change and you now know how to deal with them – the quicker your new habit will feel comfortable and good to your brain which means it will automatically induce you to exhibit this desired behaviour on autopilot before you realize it has happened. Your job is to keep repeating and rewarding and to be patient and forgiving and relentless in your focus and to be totally clear and very specific with your reasons for the desired behavioural change (your why’s) to keep you going with ample motivation while you keep rewarding yourself for every step in the desired direction along the way.
Then you, from time to time, take a step back, look at what you have already accomplished and smile and pat yourself on the back. Then you step back into the arena and keep
going, reinforcing and learning and before you know it your new default behaviour will be the one you had planned to implement.
Success.

  • Know your why’s
  • Have a clear plan for execution
  • Be good to yourself
  • Keep a steady and clear focus and re-focus again and again and again
  • Make a proper effort
  • Reward yourself
  • Repeat

You are bound to be successful. Bound to be successful.

The Value Of Celebration (or why rewarding yourself is so important)

So I went to the UPW 2016 Anthony Robbins seminar in London about a month ago. One of the things I learned there which really blew my mind was how important and beautiful it is to actually reward ourselves after we have achieved something (and I mean even little things, not just big goals once in a while). I’m talking every day. Multiple times a day. I’m talking about making it a habit to reward ourselves!
So what this looked like at the seminar was that after we learned something new (quite intense sessions with a lot of information at a very fast pace) then hey were like: “Okaaaaay. Great. Now let’s put down our workbooks and GET UP!” And then everybody got up, patted themselves on the back and started dancing and celebrating like crazy with music playing! Like there was no tomorrow. Often times without an apparent reason (what reason do we need to feel good anyways?). They said it was to condition our nervous systems to quickly go into a peak state. This and it felt amazing and wole my body and brain up! This is when I realized: That’s how school was supposed to be.

But another reason is to reward ourselves after we have learned something new or achieved something in our day. This makes our brain learn and remember so much better and also very important: we want to do more of what we did before the reward!

So what has happened since I started adopting this new habit? 

In the past I might have worked for 2 hours straight without a break. Then when I was finished I immediately went on to the next task. No celebration, no self-reward, no break. This led to me feeling overworked and then being confronted with the next task (already feeling pretty tired! after 2 hours work) resulting in feeling overwhelmed. Then I felt like I was failing (already having forgotten about the success of the previous task).

Now when I get to work and finish a certain segment (and with many tasks I really have to define a segment and plan a little break and reward) I usually get up, dance like crazy or just simply pat myself on the shoulder, do a gesture of „yes“ and focus on feeling proud of myself. I look at what I’ve done and feel a sense of fulfillment! “Aaah.. that’s how success feels!”, says my brain.

Yes sometimes this feels a little artificial (because it’s a new habit I’m building and I didn’t do this regularily in the past).

The result?

I feel amazing about myself. I help my brain realize „Hey, we just finished something here! We did a good job. Yes!“. And then my brain goes like: „Okaay. Working and achieving is desirable! We feel good when we do this. Yes!“. This enables me to do more work and to be more productive while having a deeper sense of fulfillment, joy and feeling successful overall. It is really just an entirely different experience of living… I totally recommend giving it a try.

So what actually happens when you reward yourself?

You condition an idea-effort-success cycle. Basically you’re learning how to succeed and finish a task and then feel good for doing it. Plus you get in the habit of doing that new task more and more often! Because what you enjoy usually becomes a habit. Only if the reward at the end is there – and I mean a real, emotionally impactful reward that touches you. Doing something where you really feel successful, like giving yourself a high five, moving a certain way, smiling and getting a big grin on your face. Only if a proper reward ar the end is there then your brain effectively learns that new habit.

So you might have been putting in a lot of work like I used to do and then feel unsuccessful at the end, because you forgot to seperate tasks and celebrate little victories. Or because you forgot to celebrate and reward yourself at all, maybe even moved on to the next task at hand without taking a break like I used to do. Not a good strategy to get more of that productive action or work done in the future, don’t you agree? So why not start getting used to a more successful way of doing things – especially if it feels that good? Easy!

How to do it? How do I reward myself?

It can be a simple gesture or something you say to yourself. Most efficient is if you use multiple channels of communication with yourself.

Gestures (making a fist, putting your hands in the air, doing a victory-sign, pulling your elbow down while making a fist going “yes”, breathing full and strong, jumping up and down, dancing and shaking your bum, making a proud face, putting your hands on your hips and standing tall while nodding at yourself in a confident and self-contented way). Dancing to a song I enjoy (3-5 minutes) works amazingly well for me. Also great as a little break before going back to work feeling rejuvenated.

Facial expressions (big grin, open mouth and open eyes like „wow“, everything you can think of that you enjoy 😉 Experiment!

Voice & language: Tell yourself: “Yes! Well done! Great job”. If you cannot be loud you can also talk or shout “silently” – just act like you’re shouting or talking loudly or even singing but don’t actually use your voice. Yet do push air through your throat. This can also be very effective.

If you’re alone – just go crazy to your own liking… If not you can do it more subtly and it’s still effective as long as you really use your body and try to feel it.

Notice what triggers you to feel proud, happy, rewarded and successful. Then be really good to yourself for a few minutes! It might take some experimentation but it’s totally worth it.

Oookay..feeling weird doing this? (or even thinking about doing this)
Okay I get it.. One might feel a little awkward doing this. So the main reason for that weird feeling in general is because the new behaviour is not yet well-known to our nervous system. To experience this first hand let’s do a little 1-minute-exercise:

Raise both of your hands above your head (without smashing anything), then clasp your fingers together.

Done that?… Keep your hands up!

Now you should notice that one of your thumbs is on top of the other. Notice how it feels in your hands. Now change it up so that the other thumb is on top (you might have to change all finger positions).

Now feel how this feels in contrast to the other hand position. Just notice. Does this feel good? Does it feel better or worse?

Great! Relax your arms again and congratulate yourself for learning something new, or for reinforcing something you already knew.

In case you didn’t enjoy the exercise (come on!!) you at least tried something new. Give yourself a big pat on the shoulder or grin or get up or whatever you feel like giving to yourself as a reward. Try it! Then notice how this feels in your body.

Okay so the point of this exercise is to illustrate that things that are not habitual usually feel weird. So this is reason enough that rewarding yourself and celebrating like crazy over little stuff might feel weird at times. If you keep doing it (and it’s pretty easy to keep doing it because it feels really really good and makes you more productive!) then it will feel comfortable in no time (yay!).

So if you feel like giving it a go and trying it out yourself, so you can see why this stuff makes sense and it’s not just all talk:

Here are the simple steps

1. Pick a task.

2. Finish that task or part of the task until you feel you should take a break and reward yourself for the work already done.

3. Reward yourself and celebrate so that you can actually feel the impact in your body!

4. Notice how you now feel in comparison to before. Is this a behaviour worth adopting?
A little addition: celebrating for “no apparent reason” and getting into a peak state sets free neurochemicals in your body that make your brain tune-up. You feel better and are more engaged with the little tasks and things in your life (and also the big things). This has totally changed the quality of my life. I really recommend dancing if you like it. Even a few minutes of timid dancing can totally change your day (and the day of people you come in contact with!). The more passionate and expressive you dance, the more impact it will have on your nervous system though 😉

On Victim Mentality and Empowering Yourself

It makes me angry about the world that so many people do jobs they hate and are not happy while spitting lies about how this is the way the world works in all directions, like venom. Not realizing that their life sucks because they are stuck in a victim mentality, failing to take full responsibility for the quality of their life and for the results they produce (yes produce! not the results happening to them). Many people rather regurgitate some lame story about why they are not to blame for their undesirable life situation plus a shitload of reasons why they must remain stuck and it is not in their power to change anything. Then they very effectively talk themselves into believing their limiting story of failure and doom and limitation and.. aah…feel a sense of relief. Because it’s not their fault after all!

But as they are still unhappy with their situation – anger and discontent arises. Yet they cannot use this as leverage to change because it is not in their power to change anything (so they say) – they are not responsible after all. It’s the world around them and their circumstances, their past, that are to blame for all the things that are not going in a desirable way for them. So they unload their anger on the world and moan and complain and play the game of victimhood. Then they try to convince other people of the same things – so they can feel more secure and certain believing their crippling and disempowering story of lies and bullshit.

Notice that there’s a lot of „they“ – this can readily be substituted with „I“ for maximum self-awareness.

My own advice to myself: don’t even listen to this for another second (no matter if it’s someone else’s negative story of limitation or my own old boring tape). Offer a constructive perspective, show compassion and empathy and then: Move On. Sounds harsh? It’s the most loving thing to do.

Enjoy telling yourself a story of confidence and empowerment, of possibilities and of taking charge and taking responsibility. Because who else is going to move things along for you – someone of those people living in their nightmare-fantasy-land of victimhood? Too busy feeling like a victim. One of those people living a self-determined life of taking charge and winning? Too busy enjoying life and changing things up, making stuff happen.

So put the lens on your own story, get a hold of your current perspective, get a grip on the landscape of your internal world. Tell yourself something empowering right now, then again later, and when the sun has set gently whisper it to yourself before you close your eyes to go to sleep and watch this empowering new story you tell yourself change your life from the inside out. It’s really simple. Change your story, change your perspective, change your results. But someone has to do it. Again and again. Guess who that someone is. Guess when the best time to start is.

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Yes I’m listening. I really needed to hear this. Thank you Mr. Myself.

Good job 😉

 

Simple is effective.

bulls-eye

Over the last few years I have started many fascinating projects that were very complex and really well-thought out.

There was always a strong initial phase of excitement and motivation. After this peak had waned I then regularily reached a point of frustration and action stalled. For quite some time now I have kept asking myself: „Why is this happening?“. Am I not motivated enough? Were my ideas not good enough to be worthy of full and proper execution?

So today afternoon I was working on a project, reading through a few emails detailing steps for something I wanted to do and execute on in a practical way.

It so happened that before I got some important things done and felt very victorious and in a good flow. Then I gradually noticed something happening when I was confronted with that more complex task that had no proper end defined, or at least I couldn’t see it at that point because it was too far in the future. Working through those endlessly long Emails I noticed that, because I didn’t have a clear structure and goal defined my motivation was suffering. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was winning any more – I felt like I was wasting time, not making progress and getting stuck (even though I was progressing through the reading material and putting in my best effort). Uff. What was going wrong?

Then it suddenly dawned on my: I didn’t experience success because I hadn’t planned for it. What I needed was a clear and simple goal-definition. A simple road to follow. This and small-chunking. So I finished reading the Email I was currently engrossed in, then I got up and gave myself a big pat on the shoulder for working so far and being super-concentrated all the time (seperating the process of work at that moment and giving myself a much-needed reward). Then I got an overview of what I was going to read and cut off all mental branches that were not relevant for achieving the simple goal that I now had defined for my work session. Thus simplifying the whole thing and making it more achievable and measurable. Then I got through the rest of the reading material (which worked fine because I had an overview of the reading in front of me and a renewed sense of direction and clarity). After finishing I went straight into taking action on the actual goal for which the reading was a preparation. Which I finished. Very satisfying. If I hadn’t done that tweak of self-reflective course-correction then I’m pretty sure the whole thing would have fallen apart and I would not have gotten it done today. Simple self-awareness really is where it starts for me.

So what I learned from having this experience is the following:

  • It is very good to reward myself for smaller part-goals
  • It is very very important to reward myself for effort! while still measuring efficiency in a gentle self-loving way. This keeps me going.
  • It is absolutely essential for me to make the goal SIMPLE and CLEAR and ATTAINABLE
    • while over-complication might look very reasonable and beautiful in theory and sometimes feel inspiring it leads to the land of unfinished projects
      -> when it comes to execution simplicity has great power and thus has priority
  • It is very important for me to know the road ahead when working (so that I can properly small-chunk and give myself little rewards throughout the process)
  • It’s extremely helpful to measure my levels of motivation and engagement while I am working and to immediately take corrective action in case I see them drop

So this concise post is my re-entry to blogging about useful and constructive stuff that’s on my mind. Setting the bar lower this time and making it attainable.

Making it clear, simple and attainable ;)… and then rewarding myself for getting it done. Because simple is effective and pleasurable and because simple produces results.