Metamorphosis, Transformation and The Power of Positive Change
Why do we hate change but buy transformation? Why we hate building new habits but love new year resolutions?
The problem is in the hook (the promise, the proposed solution, the value add). Our mind translates these words differently. What do I mean by “our mind thinks of these words differently?”
Let’s take a look. This is going to be a philosophical post. And, I am going to offer some practical advise on positive habit building in the end. There is power in building and cultivating good habits. Using high-performance habits we can achieve significant goals which otherwise may seem elusive.
Good habits lie behind making positive changes. We are more likely to achieve worthwhile goals if we have taken the time to build good habits part of our everyday routine. And, all of this means: Change.
“A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit.” — Erasmus
Metamorphosis and Transformation
What do you imagine or think when you hear the word “transformation”? “Transformation” or “breakthrough” is seen as something magical. We unconsciously believe some divine power or some external agent of change will take us from point A to point B.
We want to quit a bad habit and we secretly wish for a magical moment where we are suddenly transformed without pain. Transformation is metamorphosis to us. We unconsciously believe or secretly wish that a major change just happens in due time.
But that’s not correct. It is a faulty conditioning. And, we need to break free from this erroneous belief.
In biology (and nature), metamorphosis is a process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal’s body structure through cell growth and differentiation.
There is no metamorphosis without a change of habitat or habit. Notice the two key components required for the transformation: Habitat and Habit.
Habitat (The Environmental Change)
Positive association (family, friends, colleagues)
Positive books (inspirational and deep)
Positive movies and films (relevant and impactful)
Healthy eating (to empower the body and mind)
Fitness conscious lifestyle (to take charge of your body)
Habits (The Behavioral Change)
The attitude of gratitude
The attitude of perseverance
The attitude of daily-growth
The attitude of faith
The attitude of humility
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
Top 3 Tips on How to Build Good, Positive Habits
1. Macro and Micro Goals
Create “goals” that fit the vision and values of your true self. Where do you want to eventually go? That’s your vision. What steps you may have to take to reach there, that’s your macro-goal.
To achieve each macro-goal, what smaller goals you first much achieve, that’s your micro-goal. What do you need to do “everyday” to acieve your micro-goal, that’s your daily “to-do-tasks”.
This should be your first step. Create a daily, to-do-list. Read mine here in my earlier post: My morning ritual and daily checklists for success and super-human productivity.
“The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” — Feodor Dostoevsky
2. Plan for Behavioral Change
Start with positive visualization, affirmations and incorporating small mindfulness practice in your daily life. Spend some time each day to talk to yourself. Self-talk is essential for “reflection.”
You have to think what did you achieve today? Did you make any impact on the world today? Was your activities significant enough to turn your life towards a higher purpose or goal?
Ask and answer these questions when you ponder about what new habits you want to build.
“Where evil habits are once settled, they are more easily broken than mended.” — Marcus Fabius Quintilian
3. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
You want a new habit to form with minimal willpower on your part. But, a new habit creation takes a lot of willpower. Have you wondered why?
Let me tell you a secret today which will save you heartache and tons of wasted hours. When building a new habit, focus on one positive habit at a time. Do not focus on elimination yet.
You have 24 hours in a day and you already have a fixed lifestyle. Now, you are trying to add something new to your daily routine. How do you do that? Where will you find the time? The key is, do the new habit the first thing in the morning or the first thing whenever you have “that free time (whenever that is)”.
When it comes to habit formation early repetition is the key. You have to be consistent for a month or 3 months. Consistency is the key. And, as you gently settle into the new habit, you’ll find yourself automatically drop an old, unhelpful habit.
For example, you want to add “book reading” as a new positive habit in your lifestyle. Say currently, you are watching Game of Thrones or House of Card or some other popular TV show. So, my advice to you is: keep watching. Yes, keep watching the TV.
Listen. Read a book for 10 minutes before or after your TV show. The TV series will end in some time but your new book reading habit will stick and grow over time.
There are millions of great books out there and you’ll never run out of them. Once, you start including a new habit in your daily routine the key is to not force anything out of your life but to push good things into your daily living.
As the good thing grows in your life, the unproductive habits will automatically be pushed out of your day.
“An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.” — W. Somerset Maugham
Top 7 Tips on How to Make New Habits Stick
1. Focus on Adding Not Subtracting
Behavior change is hard, because we’re creatures of habit. To make a change in our behavior means we’re adding something and subtracting something. Habit formation is a two way lane.
The mistake most people make is they focus on both lanes at the same time. For example, to lose weight, most people will start going to gym and stop eating fries and ice-cream.
The problem is every task requires some degree of willpower (mental energy and decision making). If you try to resist ice-cream and at the same time, workout for 60 minutes sweating and feeling fatigued, you are bound to fail within a week.
My suggestion (which may sound counter-intuitive) is focus on one. If you have time time and you like the idea of going to gym, go eat some ice-cream first and hit the gym.
Begin the journey. There is no hurry. Next, keep going to gym. Focus on going to the gym routine. As you work harder on your body and realize how much effort it is to burn 1 pound of fat, your intrinsic desire to ice-cream and fries will automatically die or fade away.
This is a well-known fact to those who have been there but you won’t find the so-called experts talk about this. Why? Because, most of these experts are not going to the gym. They are good at writing papers from their university lab.
Most of these “experts” have no clue how hard it is to control the desire to eat ice-cream (for dessert lovers) and how hard it is to run non-stop for 30 minutes.
“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” — Benjamin Franklin
The resolution needs to be SMART.
Reward yourself for sticking to your habit
Track your progress
“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.” — Anon
3. Ask Why?
Your “why” is the most important factor in making a new habit stick. You have to make sure that whatever it is that you are trying to do (eat more veggies, exercise daily for 30 minutes, write daily for 1 hour, etc) is something that YOU really want.
Thinking is not going to cut it. You have to “feel” your why. If there is a strong and genuine “why factor”, you won’t stop. You will try to get help from your community. And you should. You will do whatever it takes. And you should.
Don’t try to form a new habit just for the name or thrill of it. If there is a peer group available, join one. If there is no support group, create one. Even if you have just one more partner, you can keep each other accountable.
Having an accountability partner means, you are going to stick with it even if the going gets tough.
“Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.” — Confucius
4. Write it Down and Know the Benefits
Write down your new habit and your plan on a piece of paper with timeline on it. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result. Next, write down all the benefits that you will reap after making the change.
Get books and research on how your new habit will benefit you and your lifestyle or your bank balance or your social status.
“Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.” — Elbert Hubbard
5. Allocate Time
Block out a regular time for your new habit in your schedule so that you can give your positive habit your undivided attention. I use a daily to-do list and keep it on my phone. I make sure I have check out every single item on my list before I go to bed.
“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” — Samuel Johnson
6. Reflect on Your Progress
Take time to reflect on how your new habit is serving you. Are you following through or failing? If you are not doing as good as you would like, ask yourself “why?” Adjust your goals and plan accordingly. If you are fairing well, don’t overestimate your capacity and increase your goals or expectation until the new habit has become part of your being. You can do the reflection exercise when you do your creative visualization or daily affirmations.
7. Find Powerful Motivation Factor
To make new habit stick you have to exercise self-discipline, atleast in the beginning and until a new habit has fully formed. One way to strengthen your self-discipline and commitment to persevere is to create a Treasure Map or a Vision Board.
A vision board can be a simple collage or visual representation of what you want to achieve. It can be created as a secret treasure hunt map. Your map is your journey to significance and success. It outlines what you are going to have at the end of your adventurous journey.
The impact you are going to make on this world. The influence you are going to exercise while serving others. It is your mission written in pictures.
This last step is the most crucial because a vision board or treasure map will constantly remind you why your new positive habit is so important to you.
Looking at your board can be just what you need to feel motivated on days when your enthusiasm is fading and your mood low.
Where To Start?
Perhaps, start here. In 1726, at age 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. In his autobiography, Franklin listed his 13 virtues as:
The Thirteen Virtues
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. Effective and Efficiency: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
You can pick any one of these virtues and identify positive habits that you can build around them. Or, better yet, create your own list of virtues and positive habits and then start on the top of the list and move downwards one by one.
After all, there is no limit to self-growth and personal development. Only you decide where and when you stop growing.
My last words: Don’t stop growing.
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What do you think about habit formation? Do you differentiate between transformation and change? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.