right, let's talk about thje importance of a decent habit war plan. Er, sorry that should be THE HABIT WAR-PLAN -- I tried to write that in blood on the screen, but unfortunately Evernote couldn't understand it (so much for hand-writing recognition). But I do want it to seem serious, that's why I've called it THE HABIT WAR-PLAN, bolded it, italisised it, made it red, underlined it and crudely stuffed it in all-caps.
OK -- time to get practical. In the previous sections, I've banged on about a bunch of habit ideas and outllned some classic mistakes. But, what about when it comes to getting started? Do you just roll your sleeves up, tuck your trousers into your sox and get on with it? Or, do you plan it out a bit?
Well, what usually happens:
When embarking on a habit or routine change, most honourable citizens will just decide on their new habit, routine or behaviour thing, pick a start date out of these three: "today", "tomorrow" or "someday soon", and then they just throw themselves into it.
Unfortunately, this is like showing up to a vicious battle woefully unprepared:
it's like showing up on your own to battle with 300 angry Spartans -- with nothing but a shovel for a weapon and a loin cloth for protection.
It's like showing up to a cage fight with a pack of angry lions having marinated yourself in meat sauce and gravy to increase the challenge.
It's like showing up to a gun-fight with nothing but a pocket knife and some cutting trash-talk.
Basically: it ain't gonna work -- you're going to get slaughtered.
Why? You got no plan. No weapons. No skill. You just thought you'd pick a fight.
Change is hard -- installing and changing habits is hard and to make good my friend: you need to bring more to the party. It's a battle-field out there, and you need weapons, tactics, strategy and skills or you're gonna lose before you even finish the first battle.
What we are trying to do.
THE HABIT WAR-PLAN is designed to quickly take you from where you are now -- probably with only a 10-30% chance of success with your habit -- which I think is a generous guess as to the average habits chance of survival -- to an 80-90% probability of success -- this is where we really need to be before we go to war.
We do this, simply by making you plan carefully, get your mind right, anticipate the likely obstacles and then by making you test run the habit before you declare it a part of your life forever more.
It really does make this much difference. It is that important. So important I'm going to write it in Spanish: muy importante amigo.
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face" Mike Tyson.
No plan is full proof though, so we need to be ready to adjust.
That said, I'm guessing you're unimpressed with my use of what must be one of the worlds most frequently used quotes by Iron Mike above. That said, it's so punchy (sorry) I think it serves a purpose here:
It will help you remember, that even with your THE HABIT WAR-PLAN done, actually changing your behaviours can be tough. You won't always get it right first time. That's no problem; reality will always be a touch different from your fantasy of the habit. So we need to build this into the plan.
Failure is to be expected.
Not failure per say, but failing a bit along the way...
You start the WAR (of installing this habit), you see your original plan isn't quite right, maybe you lose the first battle (miss a day/week), so we need to train you to automatically revisit and improve your Habit-War Plan as soon as it goes wrong -- you must tweak strategy and get back at it.
Every time you bugger up, every time you lose a battle, review and improve your plan. Make that part of your plan. Does that make any sense? You must:
Expect to get punched in the face -- if you're lucky.
I know, I know: it's a tricky one this. If we expect to fail, a bit of self-confirming bias might kick in and we might allow ourselves to fail.
But if we do fail, we need to immediately get back at it and review our plan -- not get suckered by the what-the-hell-effect and just give up for the day/week/month or even worse give up completely and feel all bad inside.
So in my opinion, we must expect to succeed, BUT, maybe after messing up and refining our plan along the way -- expect to be punched in the face, so to speak, but expect to stay on your feet and eventually win the fight (just to continue my tortured analogy a little).
Turn bad days into good data -- (thanks to the book "Switch" for the catchy phrase)
Every time your change attempts goes wrong, make sure you are not at a total loss. Analyse what happened: you messed up. Was it organisation? Were you just too tired? Was it people? Make sure you get some good data out of it and use it to re-plan. Avoid making the same mistake twice if you can.
Refine and attack again -- this is part of the plan.
Go into your habit change battle with a plan, AND a plan to adapt the plan. Keep a flexible mind and success will be much more likely.
Right now, of course, you're probably facing the resistance.
For many people, this is often the case: you like the idea; you get it. But, you're not actually going to fill your War-Plan in are you? The more naturarrlly participatory and conscientious will. But if you're like me, you'll nod along a bit and then resist actually filling it in -- might be laziness, might just be the way you work, you might not want it enough, you might not think you need it, you might think I'm trying to force some corporate style pain in the arse onto you.
So if you're facing the resistance, I respect that; you probably think you can do without it -- or you appreciate the idea but can't really be arsed. That's cool, but please do me the honor of accepting my challenge:
Go ahead, try to install your new habit naked (figurative) and unarmed. Just dive in and get on with it. But the second you get off track, stall big time and feel like giving up, admit that you need a War-Plan. You tried to go unprepared without using the right tools, and you lost. Admit the odds were stacked against you -- sort of like trying to win a jousting match without a spear while riding a dog instead of a horse... You were brave for trying, but it ended up just looking a bit mental.
Then, I ask you to come back and try again taking your War-Plan seriously. Deep thinking, mental rehearsal and environmental prep are the keys to making this change stuff happen, the War-Plan will guide you to do it.
OK LETS GO:
Basically you just fill it in, think deeply -- twice as deeply as you were expecting to -- and follow the instructions. Once you have a decent plan, you'll be nailing good habits and murdering your bad ones all over town (FYI: In the members area, you can access print out and electronic versions of this without the explanations. You're welcome).
DEFINE THE WAR
What is the habit?
Obvious place to start I guess. Define the habit, routine or behavior: what does it look like? Where will it take place? When are you going to do it? Or what are you trying to stop doing?
Why are you doing this? Why is it important to you?
The deeper your answer, the higher your resolve will be.
What does total success look like with this habit/change?
Nice to fantasise a little...let's connect with our ideal to boost motivation. Try to describe it vividly whilst staying within the realms of reality.
What's the smallest viable version of the habit?
If we could please remember that getting started is the hardest part and that it tends to be harder to start a daily one-minute habit, than it is to go from a one-minute habit to a 20-minute. Getting in motion is often the hardest part.
So what's the smallest version of the habit that is worthwhile you can think of? That's where we start:
What's the trigger? When are you going to do it?
What time of day? After an already established habit or daily event? How are you going to remember to do it?
What does the behavior look like -- what are you actually going to do?
Describe step by step in as much detail as possible. This makes you mentally rehearse. Mental rehearsal will help. Trust me. Basically, when it matters, you will have the right action at the front of your skull -- this is crucial in that moment where you know it's habit time but you're facing the 'can't be arsed' feeling.
The team: do you have accountability buddies? Is someone helping you? Is someone doing it with you? If so -- scribble it down here. If not, save it as a tool if increasing your accountability will help you down the line (People are different. Some prefer it, some rebel against it).
What will be your reward for doing the behaviour? Can you make doing the habit itself feel like the reward, or the sense of bad-arsery & progress that accompanies it? We just need something to focus on that will reinforce good behavior and keep the ol' childish brain happy: