Posts tagged: Steve Pavlina

Add the Best, Drop the Worst

Are your bad habits getting the best of you?  Wish you could incorporate more good habits in your routine.  Take this great advice from Steve Pavlina:

When you realize that you have many bad or mediocre habits that are holding you back in life, you may start to feel overwhelmed. Where should you begin? Should you upgrade your health habits? Attempt a 30 day super trial? Commit to working an hour a day on your online business?

Here’s a simple heuristic that will help you identify which habits to change first:

Add the best. Drop the worst.

Let’s start with the first part.

Can you identify some of the absolute best habits you could add to your life, such that if you maintained these habits every day for the next 20 years, it would make a huge difference in your results?

Go ahead and brainstorm a few ideas. Jot them down. You don’t need a lot — a small handful of ideas is fine.

Now is there a certain idea that pops out at you? It may be on your short list, or you may come up with a new idea.

This is probably an idea that you fear, at least a little, but it will also be the idea that excites you the most when you think about the long-term results. If you added this one habit to your life and truly mastered it, it would trump all the others. If you could only install one new permanent habit, this would be it.

What is it?

And don’t give me that “I don’t know” crap. If you don’t know, then put your brain to the task and figure it out.

Of course you can’t really know which single habit is the absolute best. You don’t know what the future will bring, so you can’t know which habit will be best suited to your future growth and results. But surely you can make an educated guess.

And if you can’t even guess, then I’ll tell you what to use. Start drinking one quart of fresh juice every day. I like carrot-celery-cucumber-apple-kale-parsley-ginger-lime. It has to be fresh — none of that store-bought stuff. Drink it on an empty stomach.

Seriously, if your mind is too foggy to think clearly about this, it’s a safe bet your diet sucks (processed foods really cloud up the brain), so I’d start with an upgrade there if I were you.

Your Worst Habit

Next, use a similar process to identify your single worst habit.

What is that one nasty habit, that if you could somehow drop it from your life permanently, it would make a huge difference in your results over the next 20 years?

What one problem behavior keeps biting you again and again?

Is drinking soda making you fat, foggy, and anxious? Does checking email more than once a day kill your productivity? Are you wasting way too much time watching TV?

What habit seems to be slowing you down more than any other? Which one would you be overjoyed to finally be rid of?

A decent choice here is to pick the worst food (or class of foods) that you know has been hurting your ability to enjoy high energy, good mental focus, and deep concentration.

Choose Crisp and Clear Habits

Don’t make these habits complicated or vague. Choose simple habits with clear and crisp boundaries.

So don’t pick procrastinating as your bad habit and being more productive as your good habit… or overeating as the bad and eating healthier as the good. What do those things even mean? How do you measure success vs. failure? These choices are meaningless. If you picked something like that, you’re being stupid, so stop it!

Don’t be stupid here. Be down to earth and specific. When you choose a specific habit, there will be a clear and sharp dividing line between success and failure. Either you did the action or you didn’t. There’s no gray area in the middle.

Choose a bad habit like consuming coffee and a good habit like getting up at 5 AM each morning.  These are clear, specific, and easy to measure. Either you drank some coffee in a day, or you had none. Either you’re up and on your feet at 5:00 am, or you aren’t.

If you had a sip of coffee or a chocolate-covered espresso bean, you failed. If you had no coffee whatsoever in a day, you succeeded. That’s crisp and clear.

If you hit the snooze and got up at 5:10am, you failed. If you’re vertical before the clock hits 5:01 am, you succeeded. No room for doubt.

That fuzzy gray zone between success and failure is the death of many would-be habit changes. Don’t waste your time in that space. That is the zone of pretenders and wannabes.

If it makes sense to do so, choose related habits, such that your worst habit to drop and your best habit to add are two sides of the same coin. For instance, stop drinking soda, and drink a quart of green juice every day instead.  This isn’t essential, but it does make the process of change a little easier if you can pair up habits like this.

Begin a 30-Day Trial

Now that you have your two habits, and you’ve vetted them for clarity and crispness (and lack of stupidity), you’re ready to get started. Begin by kicking off a 30 day triall of both habits simultaneously.

Technically you’re doing two overlapping trials together. One trial is to drop your worst habit, and the other is to add your best habit.


Don’t look back. Once you’ve  locked in these habits, repeat the process. Seek out your new worst habit and your new potential best habit. Then recondition those as a pair too.

You may have been lucky, finding yourself blessed with an assortment of positive habits that have served you well throughout your life, but most likely you still have a collection of time-wasting, energy-draining, soul-sucking behaviors that you’d be delighted to dump. No matter what your starting point is, you can always continue to apply the “add the best; drop the worst” heuristic. Even good habits can be replaced by great ones.




New Year’s Resolutions in 30 Days

As the year comes to a close many people take time to reflect on how the previous 12 months went and what changes need to be made for next year.  People call these  New Year’s Resolutions.  Some people only have one or two like lose weight and make more money and others make a big list.  It all sounds great – only problem is that most of us will be right back here next year making the same resolutions again because somewhere around mid January to mid February all of those good intentions just fizzled out.

Why?  There are several theories, but more than likely resolutions are too vague, too broad and the thought of never having pie again is just too overwhelming.  Lifestyle changes require more than just a resolution.  If you have had bad eating habits for several years or a lifetime – just having a resolution isn’t going to get you very far.  Now I know what you might be thinking – that’s why I don’t do resolutions, I have goals!

Setting goals can be a good exercise and many have achieved great things using this technique, but unless you have good habits at putting those goals into action, they may never materialize.

Last year I started reading Steve Pavlina’s blog and one of my favorite articles is on 30 day trials.  The article is called 30 days to success and has been one of the most useful tools in creating change.

The idea is that you don’t have to commit to a major lifestyle change, just give it a 30 day trial.  Eating too much pie?  Then just go without for 30 days.  Then re-evaluate how much pie do you want to eat.  Chances are you will feel better and will have lost a few pounds, so you might not go back to eating so much pie.  The nice thing is that you don’t focus on anything past the first 30 days.  Boy, giving up pie for 30 days sounds a lot easier than never having pie again!

Take those New Year’s Resolutions and see what type of action you need to get something accomplished.  Then commit to that for 30 days.   Just get out your calendar and cross off each day as you go along.  30 days will go by fast!

When I thought about going vegan, the idea of never eating cheese or eggs again was scary – I thought there was no way!  I wanted to do it but I thought it would be too hard.  Then I read Steve’s blog about the 30 days and decided to go vegan for 30 days.  I had no further commitment than the 30 days and would decide how I would proceed after the 30 days had passed.  At the end of the 30 days I found that it was much easier to eat vegan than I had ever imagined and that I felt better and wanted to continue on with being vegan.  Out of all of  my “resolutions” last year, this was the only one that stuck – and it really wasn’t even a resolution.

This year I’ll still make a note of my resolutions, but I will be breaking them down to bite size 30 day trials.  Some of the 30 day trials that are on my list for 2010 are – no desserts (starting this one in Jan!), exercise, juice and read (books, not the Internet).

Just a tip – another one is write on my blog – I don’t really want to post something necessarily everyday, but will need to at least write something daily to establish better writing habits, so will be posting more.  If you want to start doing something weekly, you really need to do at least a part of it on a daily basis.

I challenge you to do a few 30 day trials.  They give you the ability to experience something different to see if it is a lifestyle match for you.  Which new habits do you want to create?  Well, what are you waiting for?


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