Have you ever been stuck in a cycle of wanting to change something, trying to change, not being able to change, thinking there is something wrong with you, trying harder to change, getting mad that you can’t, trying again, getting frustrated, beating yourself up for your lack of willpower, and then trying again only to continue to “fail”? Maybe you talk about how you haven’t been able to do something no matter how hard you try, but this time you’ll just try harder in the hopes that something will be different this time around. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this phenomenon lately and have been wrestling with this myself, frankly. This is what I call, “The Insanity Loop”, based on Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The fact is that we often needlessly drive ourselves insane by using all of our energy to work HARDER instead of SMARTER.At Egan’s Training Center
, we are always being reminded in jiu jitsu training, that the focus is on using your individual strengths, correct positioning, and leverage. This is especially important if your opponent is bigger or stronger than you. Instead of trying desperately, again and again, to outpower someone, a simple shift in position and mindset can save you tons of energy and create the opportunity to use their force to your advantage.
If you find yourself stuck in The Insanity Loop, expending lots of energy trying to outpower (or out-willpower) something you are up against, here are 3 steps you can use to help break the cycle and get unstuck:
1 – Know Yourself. The first step is coming to terms with you who are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take some time to really examine the chronic issues, habits, or behaviors that are getting in the way of your success. The key here is do this without judgement. Do you hit your snooze button 50 times every morning? Righteous! Do you find it impossible to say no to red wine/hot bread/chocolate chip cookies? Yum! That’s just who you are, baby. Do you love writing blog posts, but don’t schedule time for it and then scramble to get them done? Yup, that’s me! It’s all good. The first step is awareness and acceptance. Write down on a piece of paper what you want and then what you do to sabotage yourself. Then have a good laugh about it. We all have our shit and that’s what makes us special and awesome. And keep in mind, who we are and what we want is always changing and evolving, so finding the time to do this type of self-reflection on a regular basis is part of living a life by design.
2 – Hack Your Environment and Shift Your Position. The bottom line is that it is a heck of a lot easier to change our environment or our positioning than it is to change our personality or behaviors. Take a look at that piece of paper again and think of ways that you can “hack your environment” to support your goals. If you snooze your alarm clock so many times you constantly miss your morning workouts, instead of beating yourself for being unable to get up, move your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up and turn it off. Or get a dog that wakes you up because he has to pee or a cat that slaps your face every morning with a furry paw because she’s hungry. Or perhaps you can “shift your position” to work with who you are, and not against it, by switching to afternoon workouts. Remember, when nothing goes right, go left.
We can also use technology to hack our environment and create external reminders and pressure to help us shift. Whatever it is that you are trying to achieve, put reminders on your phone to get to the gym, or log your food, or call your mom. Use a tool like Resnooze to send email reminders to your inbox, hire someone on Fiverr for $5 to call you everyday for a month to ask you if you are staying on track. We have endless tools at our fingertips – use them to make it impossible to forget what you are trying to achieve.
3 – Put Accountability to Work. Accountability is our best friend when breaking out of The Insanity Loop and creating new habits. Accountability can come in many forms, but the main idea is to share with one person, or many, about what you are trying to achieve so that it matters in some way whether you do it or not. You can tell your best friend, your family, share it on Facebook, join a community of like-minded individuals, make a bet with someone, create a mastermind group, etc. The whole point is that more than likely, you have been trying to change in a bubble with no real external consequences. Use accountability to up the ante and the more it scares you the better! If being held accountable for something makes your palms sweat and gives you those little nervous butterflies in your stomach, that means your dreams are big and the stakes are high and that is a recipe for success!
You may want to consider doing these exercises and brainstorming with a friend, or friends, someone who can help you get creative and think of out-of-the-box solutions to your challenges since it is often difficult for us to see clearly when we’re stuck in the muck of insanity. I’d love to hear all about the creative ways that you break out of The Insanity Loop! Please share in the comments and inspire others.
If you’re looking for another way to get unstuck when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition, please join me this Saturday, August 16th, for my “Healthy Body, Happy Life” class. This is the last one of this series that I will be teaching at Happiness U this year, so if you’ve been thinking about it, I hope you can join us for this final class. I love teaching this class and have so much to share! Please register to reserve your spot.