Tips for Using Interactive Calendar:
The most important factors in having this program work for you are steady incremental results, accountability and sustainability. If implemented properly these components all feed into each other and create natural momentum for steady progress.
Since our primary concern is sustainability, the best strategy is to start at an extremely easy level that is almost impossible not to complete. Our goal at this time is not to get actual results from the activity, but to establish a habit and trend of completing the task consistently. Success in consistently following through with the commitment will raise the confidence level and create positive momentum for the continued consistent completion of this and other tasks.
Once this foundation has been set, the chosen daily tasks will be gradually increased at an extremely comfortable pace. It is difficult and rare for most people to operate outside of their comfort zone for long periods of time. For that reason, our goal is to start within the comfort zone and then slowly expand it till it reaches the areas where people’s goals and aspirations lie.
Tips for the Program:
It is very important to try to slowly eliminate as many things that will stand in the ways of you attaining your goals as possible. Some examples of these items are:
Unhealthy diet, especially sugar, salt and processed foods
Lack of exercise
Negative or limiting beliefs and thoughts
Lack of discipline.
It is best to alter your exposure to these items slowly in a comfortable manner. The most important thing is that your plan be sustainable, that you will be able to stick to it for a long period of time. For example, if you are trying to get into shape, start very slowly and make your daily demand on the tracker something you can do very easily and won’t have hesitation or reluctance to do. Maybe just start walking 200 feet and back in the beginning. You have to do it each day though. In the beginning consistency is much more important than quantity. We are most concerned with establishing habits and getting used to steady, consistent accomplishments.
Try to set up the goals for 10 day cycles.
Once you have successfully completed a 10 day cycle, add a little bit more- an amount that will still be comfortable for you and will be sustainable for the long term. In terms of our previous walking example, you may go from 200 feet to 500 feet. Continue this process until you comfortably get up to a significant enough amount to have an impact, but not too much to where you will start to dread or look for creative ways to avoid the task. With the walking example, maybe it would be 1 mile, even though walking 2 miles would be better physically- that might be an amount that would cause you to start subconsciously looking for and giving into excuses to avoid it. Whereas the 1 mile walk may be easy and quick enough to where your only thought process would be looking forward to being productive and disciplined and doing the walk. It is exponentially better to walk 1 mile a day for 6 months and longer than it is to walk 2 miles for 3 or 4 weeks and then stopping all together.
“No Matter What”:
NO MATTER WHAT is an incredibly powerful mantra and policy that if implemented correctly will exponentially increase your chances of success while simultaneously making the entire process much easier. When you decide and commit to NO MATTER WHAT, you remove almost all of the indecision and uncertainty that distracts, dilutes and disables your powerful present moment focus and energy. If for example as part of your exercise program you have decided and committed to walking 1 mile a day, 6 days a week- you do it NO MATTER WHAT.
Raining or snowing out?- you walk!, very tired because got to bed late the night before?- you walk!, have a cold or not feeling well?- you walk!. If it’s cold out, you bundle up as much as possible, if it’s raining , you wear the most water resistant clothes you can, if you have a super busy day and don’t have a chance, you walk at 2am. If you can attain and follow through with this attitude, the obstacles and impediments to your daily walk will very often miraculously disappear, and the few times that they don’t, you will have conserved all the energy that would otherwise be expended on thinking, wondering and rationalizing if you should walk or not as well as all the guilt and negative feelings that will accrue if you skip the walk, all that energy can instead then be applied to completing you objective of taking the walk.
Operating in this manner will drastically increase your self-esteem and empower you. The daily walk will become effortless and invigorating and there will be very large psychological benefits that will be reaped in addition to the many physical benefits including cardiovascular improvement and endorphin creation. Just make sure that the daily tasks you apply this too are sustainable for the long-term as discussed previously and you will find this technique to incredibly effective.
Have a relief valve:
Discipline and human nature are two things that don’t always match up so well in the long term. The results we seek will require long-term behavior so it’s necessary that we have some tools to help us overcome this dynamic. Having a relief valve is very affective for accomplishing this. The easiest way to install a relief valve is to designate 1 day out of the week as a “Free Day” where the discipline and “No Matter What” commitments of the other days does not apply. Sunday is an excellent day to use for this purpose, any day however is fine depending on your schedule.
Quite simply, while you will commit to and follow the daily tasks you have allocated 6 days a week, you will have one day where you can indulge or avoid any and all of those tasks guilt free, and anything goes. If you have listed no desserts on your tracker, when Sunday rolls around you can have all the desert you like. If you’ve designated walk or jog 1 mile every day, on Sunday you can lay around all day if you like- no exercise necessary. It is very important that you allow yourself to feel no guilt over not having discipline this day and that you fully enjoy anything that you indulge in or avoid.
This is very effective in keeping people on track long-term because it presents a structured way that people can go off the program (which I inevitable) and get right back on with a minimum of guilt or self-chastising- both of which will often lead to more bad behavior as a coping mechanism. Once again, it is exponentially better to be on a disciplined program 6 days a week for 9 months and longer than it is to be on the same program 7 days a week for 4 or 5 weeks and then go off it completely.
There are some additional ways to tweak the relief valve tool to make it even more effective. Let’s say that Sunday is your designated free day. You go out to dinner with friends on Thursday night and everyone is ordering dessert. You have a huge craving and not only want to eat it, but also want to be part of the group and not stick out. You can have the dessert Thursday night and use your Sunday credit to keep it guilt free and be on the program. You would then just make sure not to have a dessert on Sunday. This kind of real-world flexibility dramatically increases your chances to stay on the program and enjoy the benefits that long-term adherence will produce.
You can even use the Free Day as a way to get extra points for your daily and weekly totals if you want. It is important though that there be no pressure to get these extra points- it’s important to remove the discipline for the time period. If however you are able to keep the discipline easily and feel good about the extra points, then go for it!.
Plan out and enjoy rewards:
Human nature is incredibly responsive to games and rewards. Besides using these techniques to make the program more interesting and fun, rewards serve as fantastic motivation to keep up good behavior and also result in great feeling of worthiness and enjoyment once an objective has been accomplished. This then encourages more positive action and results and creates upward momentum.
An effective way to utilize rewards is to pick a time period that will be a slight stretch or challenge for you to consistently do (or not do) a specific behavior. If you can reach that goal, then you will give yourself some type of reward that is a special treat or out of the ordinary. It is also possible to have several of these fun challenges running at the same time. Try to make the prize consistent with the effort, short easier contests pay off with small easy prizes, longer more difficult challenges pay of with larger more enjoyable rewards.
If you do your walk 6 days per week for 1 month, you will treat yourself to a 40-minute therapeutic massage from the best massage facility in town.
If lose 40 pounds- you will treat yourself to a 3 or 4 day trip to a favorite destination.
You can be creative and have some fun with this technique. Think of things that are especially fun or enjoyable to you and try to get the proper proportion of how much time and effort will be necessary to complete the objective and how pleasurable or enjoyable the reward will be. While it is better to use healthy items for rewards, almost none of us are saints and sometimes a guilty pleasure can be just as motivating as a healthy one
Visualize and Meditate:
The impact that visualizing or “seeing” yourself with your goal already achieved can’t be emphasized enough. Professional athletes and high performers have used these techniques for centuries. Michael Jordon frequently commented that his biggest secret to success on the basketball court was that he “played” the entire game in his mind before every stepping out on the court.
Basic visualization is very easy, just use your imagination to picture in your mind already having, being or experiencing the things it is you wish to attain. Make it as realistic and possible (try to feel it). Do not focus on the details or “hows” that will make it necessary- just focus on the end result and what you will feel like once you have it. Imagine and feel that you have it already.
Quieting your mind to enable visualization and meditation can be very difficult in the beginning. If you find this to be the case there are many guided meditations that can be extremely helpful. These guided meditations can be in the audio section of most bookstores and also online. It is highly recommended that you put effort into these practices as they are without a doubt some of the most effective ways to attain your goals and create the life you truly desire.