Changing a bad habit or behavior is difficult enough. Making those changes stick can be even more challenging. If approached correctly, however, it is possible to replace old habits and beliefs with more empowering ones. The concepts I outline below are from an Anthony Robbins video that summarized how to achieve real lasting change. I have come to believe that whether you are happy or disappointed with where you are in your life, you are here because deep down your patterns and habits meant for you to be here. Your destiny is shaped by those moment-to-moment decisions that you made along the way that added up to get you to where you are today. As you read this blog post try to think about your own habits and beliefs. Try to identify the ones that are serving you and the ones that are not helpful to you at all. As you move forward with this exercise, make it a point to reinforce your good habits and to eliminate your bad habits. You will soon find that bad habits and limiting beliefs do nothing more than sabotage success so we must make it our goal to adopt behaviors that help propel us towards a more satisfying future.
The basic premise of this post is to explore ways to achieve lasting change. As you’ll soon see, to say that you’re going to change something is pretty easy. To make real progress towards this change takes real work. The key is to make progress everyday, even if that progress is tiny. This is because making progress each day towards clearly defined goals is what gives us the drive to keep going. Experiencing the joy of achieving even the smallest amount of progress can generate enough motivation to get you to the next step. Pretty soon as this daily joy begins to stack up you’ll notice yourself achieving amazing results. In other words, making daily and constant progress towards something is the secret to achieve real happiness and success.
While I will explain this process in more detail below, I think it’s useful to give you a quick summary of the steps involved in making key changes in one’s life. Making a change for the better takes a lot of hard work. Clearly defining what you want and why you want it make the process much more attainable. You need to come up with a clear vision of who you want to become with good reasons for why you want to become that person. Once you know what you want and why you want it you have to resolve to do whatever it takes to make it a reality. You need to review your desire every single day and practically live as though you were this new person so that it becomes part of your self-identity. You will need to raise your standards to make sure that you don’t compromise on this new identity. This is because your standards determine whether you will be willing to skimp on your promises to yourself. You will need to convince yourself that this new you is who you truly are. In order to make sure that you stay the course, it becomes important to incorporate the habits and rituals required to become this new person. Your daily habits and rituals are what determine how we choose to spend our time and, more importantly, who we will become. It’s important to remember that achieving success in anything doesn’t happen overnight. Success is the result of having daily rituals that maximize our time and energy. It happens by making better moment-to-moment decisions about the way we choose to live our lives. Our rituals and our moment-to-moment decisions add up to determine our destiny.
How To Achieve Lasting Change In Your Life
Anthony Robbins often talks about what he calls “The Ultimate Success Formula.” The basic tenants of this formula are:
- Know what you want
- Come up with compelling reasons for why you want it
- Take massive action towards what you want
- Notice what’s working and not working
- Change your approach for the things that are not working
This Ultimate Success Formula may seem simple enough but it’s easier said than done. One of the keys to making this formula successful is to really define what you truly want. The most important factor is to make a resolution to achieve your goal. When you resolve to do something, it means that you have decided that no matter what, this is how things are going to be. Nothing or nobody will get in your way.
The Three Steps to Achieving Lasting Change
So once you make a resolution to change something, how do you get lasting change? The answer is to commit to the following series of steps.
Step 1: The first step is to create a very clear, specific and compelling vision of what you want. This vision has to be so compelling that it literally pulls you towards it. It has to be so compelling that you get excited just thinking about it. A vision that truly works is one that really excites you. It must be a vision of what you want to create in your life and who you want to be. Your vision has to have the power to pull you, not something that you have to push yourself to do. The reason that “push” doesn’t work is because it requires willpower and willpower never lasts. A compelling vision, on the other hand, has the power to “pull” you towards your ultimate destiny because you want it so badly.
Step 2: Once you have a compelling vision of what it is you truly want, you must then find strong enough reasons to support your desires. Your reasons are what keep you on track and allow you to follow through when the going gets tough or when obstacles get in your way. A compelling vision with strong enough reasons has the power to transport us through difficult obstacles, enabling us to achieve things we never thought possible.
Step 3: Once you have a clear and compelling vision with strong enough reasons, you must then review and feel that vision everyday. You need to review your reasons constantly and visualize yourself achieving your goal so you can sense what it will feel like when you finally reach your desired objective. When you focus on something every single day your brain will begin to notice things that help get you there. In fact, there is a part of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS) that decides what you notice and what you don’t. Focusing on something often activates the RAS to notice things that help get you to your target.
To Achieve Lasting Change You Must Raise Your Standards
The secret to changing something and making it last permanently is to raise your standards. Your standards dictate what you’re able to achieve in life. Someone who tolerates mediocre results will get mediocre results. On the other hand, someone who sets really high standards and doesn’t compromise is more likely to get outstanding results. You may not always achieve your goals but you will always get whatever your standards dictate. For example, someone who tolerates paying their bills late will often be late on their bills. On the other hand, someone who makes it a must to pay their bills on time will often find a way to come up with the money to pay their bills on time no matter what. Put another way, as Tony says, everybody gets his or her “MUSTS” but they may not always get their “SHOULDS.”
This is an important point so I will explain it further. Most people have a list of “shoulds.” These are all the things that we had meant to do but never did. Since our “shoulds” are probably not that important to us we never feel very bad for not doing them. They just aren’t that compelling because the reasons to accomplish them are not very compelling. It’s different, however, when you believe something is a “MUST.” This is because when it’s a “must” you inevitably find a way to make it happen. You’ll raise your standards and do whatever it takes to make sure you achieve what must be achieved. When we make something a “must” we make it part of our identity and we attach ourselves to it as though it is part of our being.
A good example of a “must” often happens when summer comes around. Faced with the prospect of getting our “beach bodies” ready, we make it a must to get fit and show everyone how good we look. The drive for diet and exercise is greater during this time than any other time of the year. This is because we know that soon we will be on full display in our bathing suits so we drive ourselves to look as good as we can. During the winter, on the other hand, we cover ourselves with heavy clothing so we no longer feel that it is a “must” to work out and chisel our bodies into works of art. We conveniently hide our flab underneath our clothes. I think everyone has experienced something similar to this once or twice.
Turn Your “Musts” Into Your Self-Identity
Seismic changes become possible when we make something a must and we begin to truly believe in the new vision of ourselves. This is because we tend to follow through on who we BELIEVE we are. One’s self-identity is a powerful determinant on whether we follow through on something. If you begin to truly believe that you are physically fit then you will become physically fit as long as you follow a healthy regimen of diet and exercise. Alternatively, if you believe that you are overweight, then all the dieting in the world won’t work because deep down you believe that you must be overweight. Similarly, if you think of yourself as a smoker, then nothing you try will enable you to quit smoking. In other words, we act in ways that are consistent with who we believe we are. One of the strongest forces in the human persona is the need to remain consistent with our self-identity.
Therefore, the way in which you’re living your life today is a result of the standards and beliefs that you chose to adopt many years ago. Many of these were formed when you were a child. If you believe that you aren’t good at math it’s probably because somehow when you were growing up you came to believe that you were no good at math. You may actually be a real wiz at math but because you came to believe that you are not good at this subject, you chose to live the rest of your life acting out this belief.
In other words, the person you truly are may not be the person you “believe” you are. If you learn to question your beliefs, you’ll begin to connect with your true nature and that’s when you’ll truly feel alive. You’ll get filled with the energy to set higher standards for who you must become. You’ll stop settling for less and will work tirelessly for what you want in your life. Once you begin to identify yourself in this new way and you commit to OWNING your new identity by raising the standards with which you live, you’ll begin to find a way to elevate yourself to new realities.
You see this behavior exemplified all around us. People who are financially prosperous always find a way to make money regardless of the current economic conditions because their standards demand that they be financially successful no matter what. If your standards are to “just pay the bills” then you’ll find a way to just pay the bills. On the other hand, if your standards dictate that you must amass massive wealth, then you’ll find a way to make money in any economy and you’ll overcome great obstacles to live as your standards dictate.
Rituals Are What Allow Us to Maintain Our Standards and Achieve Lasting Change
Once you create a set of standards for yourself, you have to find a way to ensure that those standards stick. Your daily rituals and habits are what enable you to maintain your standards and achieve lasting change. As Tony says, “rituals make the standards real.” Our daily rituals are what define us and turn us into who we currently are. Where you are in your life resulted from the rituals with which you live each moment of your life. For example, someone who is in good shape has different daily rituals than someone who is not physically fit. Similarly, someone in a great relationship has rituals that support a healthy relationship as opposed to someone with a lousy relationship.
If you study successful people, you’ll notice that they hold themselves to very high standards and that they adopt daily rituals that add up to make them successful. For example, successful people tend to wake up earlier in the morning. They have better discipline when it comes to delayed gratification. They often don’t procrastinate and are willing to do the difficult and boring tasks required to get a job done. Neither success nor failure happen all of a sudden, even though we may think that they do. Success and failure are the result of all the little things you do each and every minute of the day to get you to the point you are today. Our destiny is shaped by our moment-to-moment decisions. If you make enough bad moment-to-moment decisions in your life, you’ll probably end up with an unfulfilling destiny. On the other hand, if you make wise decisions, then you’ll probably end up with a destiny you are satisfied with. In other words, it is our ability to make better decisions in those moments of temptation that lead us to a better destiny.
Each moment of temptation may seem trivial on its own but over a lifetime they add up. Procrastinating may not seem like a big deal, especially when our rationale persuades us to believe that we’ll be “more disciplined next time.” Eating cake instead of a healthy snack doesn’t really matter “just this one time.” Putting off an important business call to go on Facebook doesn’t seem too bad. After all, you’ll make the call later. The examples are endless but they demonstrate the importance of making better moment-to-moment decisions because over a long period of time these decisions add up to form our destiny. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever cheat or that it’s bad to have a good time. That would be insane and impossible. What it does mean, however, is that the balance of your decisions should serve to empower you towards a better future. In short, seemingly unimportant, moment-to-moment decisions about how we spend our time add up over time. Those decisions can lead you to the realization that you either squandered your opportunities or that you made the most of them.
Tony says, “People are rewarded in public for things they’ve practiced for years in private.” For example, Michael Jordan didn’t become an outstanding basketball player overnight. It was the result of endless practice and discipline that honed his skills and enabled him to make the most of his talents. Michael Jordan once told Tony Robbins that the standards he maintained were the secret to his success. He had decided that every single day he would demand more from himself than anybody could ever expect. Michael Jordan wasn’t competing with somebody else; he was competing with what he was capable of accomplishing.
Your Peer Group is a Great Way to Raise Your Standards
One of the best ways to raise your standards and to adopt better rituals is to hang out with successful people. This is because you eventually turn into the people with whom you spend your time. Therefore, surround yourself with high achievers and it will most definitely rub off on you. T. Harv Eker illustrates this concept very clearly in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. In his book he outlines 17 ways that successful people think and act differently from everyone else. If you hang out with successful people, you’ll start to adopt many of those 17 success traits. If you hang out with people who aren’t so successful, then you’ll start adopting the same bad habits that they exhibit. Therefore, surround yourself with people who are achievers because it’s a great way to raise your standards and to discover and push yourself to the edges of what you are capable of achieving.
Social Support is a Great Way to Keep You On Track
Another great way to stay on track is to get support from family and friends. Publicly announcing your goals and seeking strength from your supporters is a wonderful way to empower yourself to move forward when the going gets tough. The simple act of declaring your vision will give you the leverage you need to keep going. For example, if you declare on Facebook that you’re planning to run a marathon (as I had done), it becomes pretty hard to back out when the training gets tough. This is because my desire to stay true to my public commitment to run the LA Marathon gave me the leverage not to give up. I didn’t want to betray the promise I had made so I kept pushing myself to keep going no matter how difficult running 26.2 miles may have seemed.
In addition to leverage, friends and family make for great cheerleaders. It’s amazing how energized and motivated we can get when people cheer us on. Seeing my wife and kids cheering me on at mile 15 gave me a surge of energy to run the rest of the marathon even though by that point I was exhausted.
In Summary, achieving lasting change takes a lot of hard work but it is possible. Making progress each day towards clearly defined goals energizes us to keep going. The first step is to know what you truly want and to resolve to do whatever it takes to achieve it. The next step is to come up with good reasons for your desired outcome. Once you know what you want and why you want it, you need to review it (and practically live it) everyday in order to make sure that it becomes a part of your self-identity. To continue to permanently associate with this new self-identity, you will need to raise your standards. This is because your standards dictate whether you are willing to cut corners or not. You will need to believe that this new person is who you truly are. Once you begin to identify yourself in this new way and you commit yourself to this new identity, you’ll begin to create a whole new reality for yourself. In order to maintain your standards, you will need to incorporate daily rituals to reinforce your vision. Daily rituals are the secret sauce that define who we are and who we will become. Successful people have daily rituals that add up to make them successful. They didn’t become successful overnight. Rather, they got to where they are by making better moment-to-moment decisions about the way they were willing to spend their time. Our rituals and our day-to-day decisions add up to shape our destiny. Therefore, a great way to accomplish all of this is to interact with successful people because we eventually turn into the people with whom we spend our time. As you embark on this path, remember to stay true to yourself by maximizing your potential. As Tony says, “Live Strong and Live with Passion!”
In the video, Tony gave a good homework assignment to help hone in on these steps. Try to do this exercise on your own to see how you can find ways to achieve lasting change.
Step 1: Select an area of your life that you would like to improve and describe what that area is like for you currently. Be specific. Write the truth of where you are in your life right now.
Step 2: Write down all the rituals that got you there. Write the rituals that have shaped your current conditions in this area. Be honest with yourself.
Step 3: Write down what you want. What’s your compelling vision? Be specific!
Step 4: Write down the rituals that will get you to your compelling vision. What would you need to do differently each day to get to what you want? Be specific. What would you need to do each morning to get you there? What do you need to do in the afternoons? How often would you do this or that? What days would you do them?
You can either watch it here or click on the link below if you are interested in watching the Tony Robbins video outlined in this blog post: