There is a good chance that there is something in your life that you want to change. Maybe it is your health, your fitness, your work performance, a relationship status or just how you feel every day. Or maybe it is something bigger–financial empowerment for teens, sustainable practices for the environment, diversity awareness in your community or world peace.
We can all relate to having a burning desire or intention and feeling confounded by how to flex our impact and influence in the world, especially when the start is great, the load is heavy, and it feels like failure is imminent. These are challenges to character and also to behavioral science. The trick is to be flexible and to know that no matter how seemingly unsurmountable, there is something that we can do that will make a difference and that it is within our personal locus of control.
Our cover story is one of our most exciting yet: We celebrate a partnership between 24 Hour Fitness and a team of world-renowned scientists studying behavioral change across all domains. The Behavior Change For Good initiative is led by Angela Duckworth, author of the best-selling book “GRIT” (Scribner, 2016), MacArthur “Genius” grant winner; researcher, founder and CEO of the Character Lab and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. With Wharton School professor Katherine (Katy) Milkman, Duckworth will lead the effort to understand why people with good intentions fail to turn actions into habit—whether saving for retirement, taking life-saving medication or exercising regularly.
In this issue, we also catch up with Danetha Doe, who inspires companies and individuals to greater financial empowerment. We take a deeper and timely look at fascia, coinciding with scientists’ recent reports of a new organ—the interstitium—that connects our anatomy in ways we’re only just beginning to understand. Two new workouts keep your tissues healthy, and we get expert perspectives on the latest “prescription” waters that are meant to keep us hydrated—and more.
April Editor’s Challenge: Get Moving and Stay Flexible
Charles Harrington, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Psychology and Education of Columbia University and author of “Paths to Success” (Harvard University Press, 2000), worked with Susan K. Boardman to study groups of middle-aged Americans from impoverished as well as middle-class backgrounds. Their research found those who succeeded were pathmakers against all odds. We challenge you to make it so with these steps.
Step 1: Get moving
Brendon Burchard says change starts with an intention—and requires action: “First it is an intention, then a behavior, then a habit, then a practice, then second nature and then simply who you are.”
- Take 60 seconds and identify what is the first move that you need to make, and then the next—write out the steps and then identify one thing holding you back from each step. Be truthful about the drag that is holding you back.
- Find the small change to make and streamline the rest. There are so many small steps to make something—anything—happen. Psychologist Rick Hanson refer to this as the Law of Little Things—but he emphasizes how important it is that the one small change you make is the right change. We often re-cast distractions as rituals instead of just getting to work—ahem. How many steps do you create to procrastinate on your taxes or workout? How can you streamline your steps?
- Raise your ambitions and name your moonshot. Sometimes we need something bigger, more dramatic, a bold change of scenery. Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their book “BOLD, How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” (Simon & Schuster, 2015), refer to this as a moonshot; when you set a moonshot goal that you truly believe in and want for yourself and for those you love, somehow your mind sorts out the steps to create this outcome. So write down your goal. Then write 10 ways you can make that goal bolder by a factor of 10. Pick one that excites you, and pursue it.
Step 2: Stay Flexible
Psychological factors play a very important role in overcoming any excuses—real or imaginary. The pathmakers in Dr. Harrington’s research had a strong achievement orientation and an internal locus of control. However, social support networks and significant role models were also important, including religious activity, school teachers and family members.
- Train your mind to listen differently and open up new pathways to your goal. Neuroscientists now know that people with high-achieving creative people gate (block) sounds selectively. In effect, they take in more of the world, making connections more easily that aid their success. A reflection or meditative practice will help train your mind to widen the gap between stimulus and response. Start with one minute and add another minute each morning until you reach 20 minutes. Follow your breath and sit with your thoughts.
- Accept that you’ll fall down—possibly many times—and commit to getting back up. Tibetan meditation master Pema Chodron teaches “the key to commitment is to be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle at the moment.” Understanding this allows you a path out of the debilitating blame and shame game. Recognizing how, where and possibly when you might fail presents an opportunity to restore your faith in your journey. Map it out and then grab a buddy, detail a strategy and put together an emergency kit so that you can pick yourself up when everything seems to fall apart.
Take one small action and when you feel yourself getting stronger, raise your ambition to do more and be more. Stay flexible and listen for what is holding you back, respond to that and restore your faith in yourself and your commitment to your goal. This month, step up to the challenge to create the impact and changes that you want for yourself and the world.
PS—Check out our daily stories on 24Life.com. We have been listening to your feedback and are excited to deliver new stories and workout inspiration to you each day.
Photo by: DenisNata, Adobe Stock