Of all the people you know, how many of them would you expect to suffer from cravings? And how many of them have obvious habits too?
How about you? Do you suffer from cravings? What are your habits?
The reality is that every single one of us is afflicted by cravings and repetitive habits.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some habits are good for you, and some cravings are beneficial to your health.
You see, when you have a biological craving, it’s your body’s way of demanding specific foods that contain nutrients that you have a shortage of. An example would be when you crave salty food . . . that’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re sodium deficient.
And if you’re ‘in the habit’ of switching your phone off an hour before bedtime, or going to the gym 5 days a week, then those beneficial habits will serve you well.
But . . .
Most of the cravings we have are for things like ice cream, chocolate, spicy food, beer, etc. These are definitely not biological cravings. They are either emotional cravings or substance addictions. (with sugar and alcohol being the most common addictions in everyday life).
And many of the habits we’ve developed are not helpful to us or our well-being.
So, what can we do about it?
Well, if you are suffering from a true addiction, you will need to manage it with professional support. A structured 12-step programme and support group will be very beneficial.
However, normal cravings and negative habits can be overcome by applying a simple 5-step process.
1. Start with a goal in mind.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve – What is your goal?
And why you want to achieve it – Why is it your goal?
And finally, is it SMART? (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-constrained).
Now write it down and put it somewhere you can see it during the day so that you can refer to it regularly. You might want to create a vision board to go along with it.
And lastly, share it.
Post your goals and deadlines on social media.
Tell your family, your colleagues, your client, and anyone else who can help hold you accountable.
2. Plan to achieve your goals
Now that you know exactly what you want, and you’ve told people about it, it’s time to prepare for action.
You need to prepare your days and weeks in advance. Whether it’s developing a structured project plan, managing a basic calendar, or simple, daily meal preparation.
The trick is to work backwards from your goal to the present. Start with what you need to achieve in the next 12 months, then the next month, and then document what you need to achieve in the coming week.
It also helps to set up intra-day routines, like a morning routine, to help you manage each day with consistency.
Now, regardless of how well you plan, you’re not going to be able to totally avoid diversions and distractions. The best way of sticking to your plan long-term is to plan for occasional diversions as part of your journey.
That will make it more realistic, and help ensure that you stick to it.
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3. Set up your environment
Now you need to create an environment around you to support achieving your goals.
You need to keep your environment “clean”, by removing distractions and temptations. Also, distance yourself from those who are either discouraging you or don’t believe you’re going to achieve your goals.
Rather surround yourself with supporters who will encourage you and hold you accountable for your progress.
4. Balance your nutrition to your goals
Regardless of what your specific goals may be, maintaining a proper diet will always be an important component. You cannot expect the best from your body or your mind if you’re not feeding them the right fuel.
Wherever possible, pre-plan your main daily meals; focusing on healthy and nutritious options. Then, get rid of the unhealthy snacks and ingredients from your home – if they’re there they will tempt you.
And whatever you do, avoid takeaways and fast food at all costs.
Ideally, have ‘preferred’ snacks on hand to offset cravings. Healthier options for those times when you feel the need to indulge.
Also, pay attention to the things that trigger your cravings and habitual actions. Then try to identify the underlying cause of these desires. That way you can better manage the triggers and avoid temptation.
5. Manage your mindset
The last element is the management of your mindset.
No matter how well you set goals or plan for appropriate action, self-sabotaging actions will always be a problem that will confront you.
The only effective way to combat this is to actively work on maintaining the right positive mindset – and there are a few ways to achieve this:
- Surround yourself with people (including mentors) who embrace the mindset you’re wanting to create and maintain.
- Pay attention to your own thoughts during the course of the day. This will give you a better understanding and appreciation of your mind ‘default’ thoughts and repetitive self-talk.
- Spend time each day in mindful reflection and introspection. Use this time to listen to your innermost thoughts and calm your mind. Meditation practices are very helpful here.
Mindset management and mindfulness is an entire topic on its own, and I won’t be able to go into the details here. But I will dedicate next week’s letter to working on mindset.
Well, that pretty much covers this week’s topic, and I hope it is helpful for you.
I hope you have a magnificent week, and will catch you again next week.
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