One of the most eye-opening eating experiences you can have is to start using a food tracker!
Suddenly, every handful of chips matter, each Cheez-it, a couple spoonfuls of ice cream, 3 mini Heath bars and a small bag of M&M’s, a can of Root Beer, it all add up very quickly!
Then I eat dinner and pick at the left overs and everything my daughter left on her plate. I’m not hungry…just grazing! 😉
Turns out my bowl of cereal is about 2 “servings” and then I have to top it off to use up all the milk.
Give it a try yourself and see how big a difference it makes!
Visual awareness is one of the fastest ways to change behavior, because a lot of what we do habitually is hidden from our conscious mind.
I have used a food tracker app to quickly alter my eating patterns many times.
What if I tried the same thing with a simple tracker designed to help me with the habits of self-control that I’m trying to develop?
I’m working on 3 habits of self-control.
The first is 100 push-ups a day. I find that physical self-control bleeds over to self-control in other areas. When I push myself to do things I don’t want to do physically, it builds my self-control to do things mentally that I don’t want to do, or other physical things that require me to push through “I don’t want to.”
The second is reading/listening to a book to learn. This builds priority self-control. I listen to my book before I listen to podcasts and read before I can check social media. In this way I build the self-control to do the most important things first. Then, when I face other opportunities to delay important actions, I call on that mental muscle.
The third is 10 minutes of meditation a day. Meditation helps me with the self-control on focusing on now. Not worrying and stressing about 100 things at a time, just be present and focus with intentionality on what is in front of me.
I would encourage you to find your own physical “I don’t want to” challenge, a priority challenge, and a meditation challenge.
Putting all three in your life will help you feel better about yourself. You will feel accomplished. You will feel growth in your life and control over your own mind.
You will stop chasing more and focus on doing better. When you do better, you feel better.
I know everything I have written so far is true for me, and yet I still can’t always get myself to do it!
What gives?! How can I quickly change behavior?
I had learned from my days of food tracking that the fastest way is…a tracker!
So, I created my own weekly habit tracker.
When I put a tracker on my desk and mark down my actions, I do them more. Especially if I put the tracker somewhere I can see it consistently, and I know someone else in the family might see it, too.
Physiologically, when we experience successes, even small ones like checking a box, your brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical related with feelings of pleasure and motivation.
When you check a box, you feel connected with the positive outcome and often want to feel it again, so you take the action again.
It also forces the subconscious to become conscious and raises our awareness of the habit we want.
Without a tracker, we forget what we have identified as important to us in the crazy of the day. When we make it visible, our free time is utilized differently, just like our eating, especially mindless eating is impacted when we force the awareness of tracking everything we eat.
The pattern is simple:
I think you will amaze yourself at how quickly you can add in behaviors that matter and increase your self-control in every aspect of your life.
Rather than just doing more, you will do things that are better and feel better each day.
That’s the impact of moving focus from doing more to doing better.