TRICK YOURSELF INTO SUCCESS Anne Miles, Empowerment & Performance Coach, talks about what it takes to succeed when conventional methods don’t work.
Above: Anne Miles Empowerment & Performance Coach, Founder of Magnetic Inspiration. www.magneticinspiration.com.au
‘For some of us nothing overcomes failure like knowing what it is that trips us up, and then tricking ourselves out of that behaviour’. Even the best of us, who are highly aware of positive goal setting procedures and disciplines, don’t always work in the traditional way we’d expect of a successful leader or entrepreneur. Take me, for example, I’m as lazy as the next person; as ineffective, distracted, tired, fearful, negative even, but how come I’m the one that goes to the gym between five and seven days a week for up to fifteen years straight, when others fail? How come I stick at things that others don’t? How come I achieve things that others are too afraid to, or get jobs done that others don’t? I’m just as challenged as anyone else; I promise you. The first major step is making a conscious and deliberate decision to do something; to achieve something, to be who you want to be. Without this commitment there is nothing to keep you driven with longevity and direction. Believe that there is no such thing as a New Year’s resolution. Once you’ve decided, you’ve decided! The change should be immediate. Avoid allowing yourself to slip into the mindset that change is something that can be put off. But, what if you get to this point but you have trouble committing to what conventional thinkers say it takes to achieve your goals? It may just be a matter of needing to trick yourself,
like I do, to get out of the difficulties or the challenges. Change your mind Take the experience of getting up in the morning to go to the gym. If I feel tired and lazy the natural thing for me, like a lot of us, is to allow negative thoughts to go through my mind that just reinforces that negative position. I’ve heard myself saying ‘I’m so tired’, ‘It’s cold and dark at 5:45am’, ‘I can’t’, or ‘ It’s too hard’. I have learned that I can’t turn off a negative thought no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I want to; but what I can do is to replace it with something more healthy, regardless if I actually truly believe it at first or not. If I say it often enough and do not allow in any of the negative thoughts by making the positive ones louder and longer in my mind, in a deliberate and conscious way then eventually I know my body just seems to catch up. Eventually I feel committed to something, or I actually feel like I even enjoy it. For example, when those negative thoughts race into my thinking the moment that my alarm clock goes off at 5:45am I make myself say things like ‘I’ll feel so much more awake after I’ve done exercise’, ‘I’m so proud of myself for being committed to this exercise
program’, ‘Good for me getting up when it’s dark to keep healthy’, or some other comment that is important to me at the time. Sometimes I risk getting back into my bed so I say something like ‘I’ll feel much better doing exercise than I will by having such a small amount of extra sleep’. At first I know I sounded like a robot and even said it like a petulant child. Soon enough I truly believed what I was saying (and still say) each morning. Now I genuinely enjoy my time exercising and feel so much better for it. I’ve eventually become committed to it without question and it has become a part of my life. Trick the flaws in the system Sometimes just words aren’t enough and physical tricks come into it as well. I put the alarm clock on the other side of the room because I’m already out of bed then and see less point in getting back into bed. I put my gym clothes and shoes out the night before so that there’s no effort involved when I’m walking around the house (in my zombie state) first thing in the morning. I put the bedroom clocks ten minutes faster so that I can say to myself ‘it’s nearly 6am so there’s no point going back to bed now’. I make the bed immediately as I get up so that I am not tempted to get back in it.
I know on some level that I’m doing this to myself, but it works. It’s mind over matter. I have lowered my expectations for myself and it has allowed me to be able to sustain long-term commitment. Rather than feel I had to look a certain way, to reach a certain weight, to become a certain ratio of body fat, or to lift a particular number of kilograms I tricked myself by setting my demands on myself quite low at first. I didn’t put any undue pressure on myself other than turning up and spinning my legs or lifting some weights, that’s weight of any amount at all…even 5kg! As a result I have stayed committed, and along the way I have even considered competition body sculpting because somehow (almost by accident it seemed) I was achieving awesome results. For the fifteen years I went to the gym I stuck to an exact time frame every day that I routinely went to class. I know what time I start work every day, so I can always factor in some exercise around that. Yes, and to get over the belief that I was not a morning person and couldn’t possibly get up that early I had to do the steps to ‘change my mind’ about that too. Know what drives you: One of the things I have learned about myself was that if I committed to meeting anyone else at the gym then I could never let them down. My sense of commitment to others and my need to do what I promise to do is great. If it was just up to me alone, well then it was easier to let myself down and not go. So, I figured I needed a trick around that. I looked for anyone that I could find to make me accountable to turning up. I had a deal with them, that if I ever asked ‘Hey, are you going to gym tomorrow?’ then they had a strict agreement that even if they knew they would be interstate or in another country the next day, that they would guarantee me they would say ‘Yeah sure, see you there!’. It worked!
going to the same classes with the same set of people regularly. This is a perfect way to become accountable, even if you don’t even know their name. It doesn’t mean you have to strike up huge conversation (which at that time of day isn’t easy!) but it means they will notice you when you are there and when you are not there. What better way to spur you on than to have one of the regulars say to you ‘Where were you yesterday?!’ When things change: Over time I could no longer leave the house to exercise because I had small children that I couldn’t leave in the house alone. That brought in a new level of tricks that I had to put before myself to keep the momentum I’d sustained for years. The first trick was in changing the type of exercise I did. Keeping up exercise at home became challenging because there was no one else there to be accountable to any more….it was just me! I become easily bored by the routine at home and often have had to rotate it around to get more interest, to have a new piece of equipment, a video to work out to, or to just allow it to be very slow and easy from time to time and still be happy that I am at least moving. Adding in something for my brain to do at the same time has now become an essential trick. At first listening to the radio became a motivation. At the moment I must have a few different books on the go at any one time so that I can choose the one I’m in the mood for. I purposefully do not read that same book under any other circumstance, so that it’s saved for only when I’m exercising and I can anticipate it.
My intelligent self, that logical side, knew full well it was a trick but I forced myself to act like it was true.
Find a mentor: To inspire me to keep going I put up photos of myself looking fit and healthy (or if it works for you to have a photo of yourself looking fat and unhealthy on the fridge … then do that). Buy magazines full of fit and healthy people and consider yourself one of them when you look at the pictures. See yourself in their shoes, feel the shape of your body and how good that feels, hear comments from other people in your mind, even smell the sweat at the gym if that takes your fancy.
Going to the gym at the same time every day means you are often
If there’s someone in your life that is a model of good health and physical
fitness then talk to them about your routine and enjoy the fact that you’re both in the same headspace. Surround yourself with people that succeed and are committed. Disengage in discussion with people that are not. Keep ahead: I try to immerse myself in information about my body and learn what it takes to be healthy and fit. Every time I do this I positively reinforce what I’m doing every morning at that un-Godly hour of day. Most of this boils down to being aware of yourself enough to know when your attention is waning, or that you need some further motivation before it becomes a problem and you get off track. Notice when you’re under performing and it’s starting to become harder. Work out what it is that needs to be tricked. I leave myself no excuse to get out of doing what I ultimately want to, and need to, for my health and general feeling of self worth and to achieve my longterm goals. This same thinking not only applies to keeping healthy or fit, but it applies to eating well or doing chores, to leaving a job you hate, to opening your dream business, to being who you want to be, or achieving anything that is challenging. It’s about pushing through the fears and the challenges and doing it anyway and doing whatever it takes to convince yourself or trick yourself into getting there. Some people argue that this is a negative approach, and they may well be right. The issue for me is that it’s about working out what it is that works for the individual, and then keep self correcting it as you go so that you stay on the track that you choose to be on. Soon enough you’ll have no way out but to be at your desired outcome.
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For some of us nothing overcomes failure like knowing what it is that trips us up, and then tricking ourselves out of that behaviour.