New Beginnings, Self-Discipline

Why Willpower is simple… but also hard🤔?

“Just do it.” Seems simple enough, right?

…Wrong! …but also, right!

Okay okay, you’re confused – I get it! But I am being serious when I say that “just do it” attitude is both simple yet not easy to master.

First I’ll tell you why it is simple:

Because there is one step to follow. Yup, that’s it. All you I have to do is “just work out everyday”, or “just not eat cookies”, or “just write a page everyday”. It’s as simple as frying an egg…you just do it.

And after you do whatever “it” is for a certain amount of time, the willpower you originally needed will lessen as your actions become habit. So sooner or later, all the effort it took to motivate you to hit the gym turns into no effort at all – going to the gym will become an automatic routine.

“But Ella, you don’t understand…. willpower isn’t as easy as you make it seem.”

Well wait a minute! I never said it was easy. In fact, what I said was, willpower is “not easy to master”.

You see, the word simple means “basic or uncomplicated.”

Whereas the word easy means “achieved without great effort”. So although willpower is uncomplicated, it requires a lot of effort to employ.

And the reason for this effort is…. THE FEELS, HABIT, and ADDICTION.

Let’s start with THE FEELS:

Feelings try to govern your decisions

So you say you want to lose weight and be more productive on weekends, but you continuously find yourself saying the following statements: “I should probabaly wake up and start my day, but I’m going to keep sleeping because my bed is so warm and comfy.”

“I should probably stop eating now, but this meal is so delicious that I have to finish it.”

You say these things because you want to do things that make you feel good. And more importantly, you want to do things that provide immediate gratification. So when you have to make a simple “do or don’t” decision, it is likely you will choose the action that makes you FEEL GOOD immediately.

Now let’s look at the same scenarios, but this time as driven by HABIT:

(1) “I don’t need an alarm to wake up! I am awake at 8 AM daily but I definitely need to be in bed by 10 PM the night before.”

(2) “I always find myself going for an afternoon cookie at work”

Bad habits like cookies everyday

Your brain wants to be efficient. And what better way to be efficient than to complete routines without thinking about them.

However there are problems with your routines: (1) you probably don’t need 10 hours of sleep every night, and (2) the daily afternoon cookie is not a benefit to your health.

So the downside is, you created habits out of those problems. And by consistently implementing these particular actions/problems, you have created automatic routines that will be difficult to break.

Now let’s touch on ADDICTION… which is a whole other ball game:

It is hard to break an addiction, but still possible. Don't be trapped by addiction.

Addiction involves a release of chemicals in your brain when you engage in a certain activity. This chemical factor, which can often lead to withdrawal and tolerance, make breaking an addiction much more difficult than breaking a habit. However, there are programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) and professionals who specialize in helping people break their addictions. So breaking an addiction is possible!

You can see that THE FEELS, HABIT, AND ADDICTION all create what I call the ambivalence of willpower. “Just do it” and “it feels good to NOT do it” create an unfortunate simultaneous dichotomy which makes the simple act of willpower an incredibly difficult task.

Ambivalence of willpower

BUT THE IMPORTANT PART IS…

It is completely possible to retrain your brain in order to create habits that work AGAINST the ambivalence of willpower. By analyzing the action you want to enact willpower against, you will be able to note whether that action is satisfying the feels, a habit, or an addiction. And once you know what is making willpower difficult, you will better understand what will make willpower easier for you.

Don’t take your human-ness for granted – you are completely capable of doing things that are hard. So remember to work smart, work strategically, and work for long-term success.

Don’t let the ambivalence of willpower slow you down, and make this the #YearOfYou

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

Self-development, Self-Discipline, Selfcare Tips

I’ve been dying to ask you this! 💬

Habit coaching session. Coach asking student an important question for personal development.

So. I see you made it to my post. Well thank you for supporting me 🙏❤

But most importantly, CONGRATULATIONS! Seriously, congrats for taking the first step in your personal development journey.

“Uhm Ella… what do you mean ‘first step’? What other steps are there to take?”

Well I’m glad you asked! Generally speaking there are only two steps: (1) figure out what to do (2) do it.

That leads me to a question I’ve been dying to ask you:

Are you an anchor or an engine?

Have you actually been implementing these motivation Monday tips I dish-out in my posts? Or, have you been reading them, saying “seems cool”, and then going back to your daily routines?

Dude, you gotta be an engine!

Be an engine!

You have to take action when you think it might be helpful. If you have a problem – any problem at all – it will persist UNTIL you actually do something to solve it.

Inaction = stagnation
Action = progress

Don’t create a habit of inaction when you could spend your moments pursuing answers to your questions and solutions to your problems.

Don’t be an anchor. Don’t hold yourself down when you need to move up in the world.

Don't be an anchor. Boat anchor.

START YOUR ENGINE TODAY… AND HERE’S HOW TO DO THAT:

Fuel Up.

You need to put yourself (your mind and your body) in a position where you are able to take action.

1) Fuel-up using your mind

Belief, gratitude, discipline. Those are three things necessary for your mental development. Belief in a goal, being grateful for your opportunities to reach that goal, and being disciplined in your positive thoughts will you help create that “moving up in the world” type of mindset.

Affirmations, happy thoughts, I am kind, worthy, and hard working.

2) Fuel-up using your body

Nutrition, fitness, intuition. Those are three things that will improve your physical health that will in turn improve your improve your brain health. Your brain is connected to your physical wellbeing in more ways than you think.

Proper diet and exercise prevent inflammation in your gut. In fact, recent studies show that “microbiome [(the good bacteria that live in your gut)] may influence cognition and behaviour by altering the functioning of the immune system.” So your ability to have a healthy mindset depends largely on whether you have a healthy body.

By giving your body the vitamins and nutrients necessary to thrive, you will be in a better position to push to new limits. You will be less fatigued, stronger, and more importantly you will learn to intuit what type of food and exercise works best for your body.

Healthy and nutritious fruit bowl

… And just when you thought I wasn’t going to include a nifty analogy to explain why you need to FUEL UP … BOOM here is it:

You’re at home Saturday morning and you want to make a nice meal. …but you have NO FOOD in your house. So you decide to TAKE ACTION.

You get in your car and put the key in the ignition so you can go to the grocery store for food. But wait … YOU HAVE NO GAS IN YOUR CAR!

That’s a problem because no gas means you can’t start your engine, and that means you can’t get food at the grocery store.

You need to fuel up. And in order to be in the proper position to fuel-up, you need to (1) locate the nearest gas station on a map, and (2) have your driver’s license.

If you’d like to wake up every morning motivated to reach your goals and thankful for your opportunities, you have to fill up your gas tank.

Fuel up so you can reach your goals. Fill up your gas tank

In conclusion …

… it’s not just about taking action, it’s about being it the right physical and mental space so that you can take action efficiently and strategically.

So pick a problem in your life. Start small and start with you. Don’t be concerned with rearranging the world around you until you address your personal short-comings. And if you want to start today, make sure you check out this blog post where I show you how to identify areas of your life to work on.

I hope you have an amazingly productive day and as always, have a very Happy Monday ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

Self-Discipline

If You Think You’ve Got it Rough, Read This …

For every single person who has ever lived, their life has been difficult to some extent.

Yes you heard me right –

Every. Single. Person. I have a hard time believing there are people in the world saying their lives are perfect with zero difficulties.

Brain Injury Awareness Month - Rock Bottom

No matter if you’re Kylie Jenner, Tony Robbins, a 9 – 5 secretary, or living on the sidewalk … you’ve probably suffered some sort of hardship because:

(1) all people have different ideas about what life should be like, and

(2) all people are influenced to live life in various ways.

… So, the results are relative. Our vastly different lives result in experiences that might be hard for some and not as hard for others.

BUT does that mean some hardships rank higher on the “my problems are worse than yours” scale? Well interestingly enough, I think the answer to that question is both no and yes

Here’s a scenario to best explain:

If the worst thing that has ever happened to you is X, then you have no worse personal problem to compare X to. And if that is the case, X might just be your personal version of rock bottom.

Now, if you’ve hit your rock bottom you can either,

1) downplay your personal problem because you think it isn’t “as bad as someone elses”

OR

2) be ignorant to the fact that other people have problems, and claim your problem as the worst.

However those options aren’t mutually exclusive… so below you’ll find my explanation for surprise option 3 –

3) Acknowledge you have a problem and take responsibility for finding a solution. Big or small, you have to acknowledge your problem’s existence so you can start implementing actions to fix it.

That could mean removing yourself from the situation, changing your behaviour, grieving, praying, learning, practicing, etc.

BUT, at the same time, you have to remember your situation could always be worse. And somewhere around the world it is incredibly likely that there is at least one person suffering that “worse problem” you just imagined.

And if you’re still confused about option 3, here’s a sick analogy to help explain:

The other day I got home from work and went to wash the dishes. I put my hands under the running water but immediately removed them because of a stinging pain I felt. The culprit? Two small scratches. WOOPDY FRIGGEN DOO.. right?

At that point I could have stopped washing the dishes because my dinky little scratches caused me minor discomfort. But instead. I acknowledged that (1) my dinky little scratches would not kill me or cause me dire pain, and (2) I could be working 12 hour shifts on an assembly line in a developing country causing me to have 5000x more beat-up hands.

Be grateful for what you have - obstacles are gifts.

So after approximately half a millisecond of focusing on the stinging on my hands, I decided not to be ridiculous and fixed my problem by washing the damn dishes.

The fact of the matter is my scratches stung, but that problem was so incredibly minuscule it would have been utterly comical, ignorant, and ungrateful for me complain about it.

So maybe you are someone who’s only ever experienced scratch-type problems in your life. If that is the case, you should consider yourself lucky and empathize with those whose problems are worse than yours.

But at the same time, you suffered scratches and you’re allowed to take a moment and say “this sucks”. You have to acknowledge the scratch and then decide if it is worth bandaging-up or leaving as is.

And if you’re someone who’s mostly experienced factory labourer in a developing country-type problems, I hope you can do your best to find solutions. I, as well as others, empathize with you. But remember that those who’ve only experienced scratches have no clue what your pain is like; so try to make them understand your pain before you squash their pain as living “an easy life”.

So if you think you have it rough, maybe you do. I hope you can find a solution. But if you think you’ve had it the worst, I can’t be sure … And unfortunately neither can you. But I still have your back, and I still hope you can find a solution.

Whether your problems are scratches or deep cuts, you are responsible for finding solutions. And at the end of the day, the decision to take responsibility may be the hardest for all of us, no matter our pain.

As always, I hope you have a productive day and Happy Monday ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.

Self-development, Self-Discipline, Selfcare Tips

The Horror of Habit: Why Too Much of a Good Thing Can Seriously Break You

It’s easy to get stuck …

… in your daily routine, in your job, in your relationship.

The explanation for this? … Habit.

My Monday morning habits!

Since starting this blog, I’ve talked a lot about how staying disciplined to good routines can help you create good habits – therefore making the challenging things in life easier.

And if you haven’t guessed yet, my advice for sticking with a good routine is to practice self-care, self-development, and self-discipline, in that order.

(Side note: If you haven’t read my three-part series on self-care, self-development, and self-discipline be sure to check it out by clicking link 1, link 2, and link 3 which will open in a new pages.)

But did you know those three phases occur in a loop?

Let’s call it the “personal-development loop”.

The Personal Development Loop: self care to self development to self discipline.

My goal for you is to make moving through the personal-development loop a continuous habit. However, just like moving through the loop can become a habit, staying in one phase too long can become a habit as well … a bad habit that is.

Now why can habit be a bad thing?

Because it makes you reach for ice cream when you feel sad, and it causes you to change lanes without checking your blind spot. And believe it or not, it can also lead to laziness as an excuse for self-care, unorganized activity as an excuse for self-development, and over-working yourself as an excuse for self-discipline.

And now I’ll admit something embarrassing:

Not too long ago, I realized I was stuck in a bad habit of self-care. I needed to un-f*** … ugh sorry, autocorrect … I meant to say I needed to un-stuck myself.

This all started when I was caught in an equally bad habit of self-discipline. I worked my brains out, and because I stopped moving through the personal-development loop, I burnt out. I sought help and learned how to implement self-care to get back into the swing of things.

So I started practicing gratitude and meditation. I started sleeping-in when I woke up tired after a crappy sleep. And I started drawing when I had spare time after work. I pressed pause on my competitive edge and learned how to take care of myself first.

Here’s where the problem started…

Once I was ready to take the next step in the personal-development loop (i.e. self-development), I couldn’t break my self-care routine. I became too cozy in my self-care lifestyle that I let it turn into a bad habit.

So instead of waking up to my alarm each morning, I started sleeping-in because I thought I was “doing my body good”. And instead of doing my regular high-intensity interval training, I drew pictures because I didn’t want to “over-work” myself. What I was really doing, was justifying laziness by calling it self-care; I got so used to my former self-care lifestyle that I was inhibiting myself from personal development.

Now let’s look a little deeper at how habits form.

I am currently reading a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (and I freaking love it). The book explains that habits are formed in a part of the brain called the basal ganglia (see the figure below).

Your brain on habit - the basal ganglia.

The book states, “Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain […]. The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits […].”

The good news is, “once someone creates a new pattern, studies have demonstrated, going for a job or ignoring the doughnuts becomes as automatic as any other habit” (page 20).

If we want to form good habits, we need to start very clearly laying out our goals. We need to be self-aware and recognize when we are stuck in a bad habit. And to break a bad habit, we need to start implementing new cues.

Want to wake up on time? Write out your daily schedule down to the minute. Want to work-out in the morning? Sleep in your workout clothes. Want to stop with the ice cream? Stock up on frozen fruit.

So don’t fall into the same trap I did. Personal development is a loop and a balancing act. Create good habits, even though it will be hard.

But I promise once you create good habits, your routines will rock and you’ll truly begin to understand the power of habit!

If you want more information on habits, I highly recommend The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Click here to get yourself a copy.

Have a happy and productive Monday! ❤✌

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*Disclaimer: Please note that some links may be affiliate links which means I will make a small commission of each purchase. Any commission I make will help me to continue creating free content.

Self-development, Self-Discipline

The Ultimate Return on Investment

Stagnation. Stasis. Still.

Are you ok with that?

I’m not.

I like progress. I like the feeling of success. And more importantly, I like the feeling of long-term and well-earned success.

Notice what I said there? “Well-earned“.

Success takes hard work and self-discipline. Want to lose weight? Sure you can drink smoothies for 30 days and lose 15 pounds, but what will you do after the 30 days are up? Drink smoothies for the rest of your life? Probably not… In order to keep the weight off, you have to form and stay disciplined to healthy habits as well as understand the concept of delayed gratification.

Earn your weight loss. Earn it through realistic food intake, realistic workout regimens, and a realistic time frame. If you follow that recipe for earned success, not only will you lose the weight, but you’ll have a higher chance of keeping it off.

If you learn to not expect an immediate return on investment, you’ll stop seeing short term failures as huge obstacles – you’ll start to accept failure as part of the journey. You’ll learn from failure more quickly, you’ll move forward even when you think you should quit.

I want you to keep going.

I want us all to keep going. I want us to fall down the mountain over and over again until we learn the quickest and most efficient way to climb to the top. And once we climb it, let’s not climb back down, but build a house on top. Maybe a civilization on top. Because what good is the climb of you can’t stay on top for a while? Let’s do things that are hard knowing they will lead to inevitable success. And more importantly, let’s earn it.

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Self-Discipline

Are You Ready to Reach Your Goals in 2019? (Part 3 of 3)

Think about this … “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” That couldn’t be more true … but I bet you’ve never considered this before:

“When the going gets easy and we forget to make it tough again, nothing goes.”

So what happens when nothing goes?

Easy: we lose. We stopping growing. We stop developing. We stop moving forward along the path toward success.

Part 3 – Self-Dicispline

Let’s begin our anecdote from where it ended last week: You began to water your seed and gave it proper sunlight; as a result you now have a little sprout. Maybe you even started to see a flower bud. Good enough, right? Wrong. The flower will eventually get old and die, so you need to plant new seeds and water them daily. We want to grow a entire garden. And to do that, you have to give your little sprouts the proper amount of water and sunshine each and every day. No excuses, no complaining. If you want a garden, you have to put in work.

You have to start doing things that are hard. You have to start challenging yourself. Every. Single. Day.

10 second exercise: Get a pen & paper and start making a list of things that are difficult but should be done. What’s on your list? Here’s a fraction of mine: Start reading 6-7 times a week, stop eating sweets during the day, stop following social accounts that don’t provide me with value, start making weekly YouTube videos.

Got your list? Good. Now start repeating the items on your list 24/7 in your head. Seriously – that is exactly how I stay on track. Don’t fall off your path and don’t let your thoughts talk you out of anything.

According to Elbert Green Hubbard, self-discipline is defined as “the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not”. So, when your alarm clock goes off at 5 AM tomorrow and you’re too tired to go water your sprouts, you get out of bed anyways and go water them. And when the temperature drops to 15°C and you need to bring your sprouts indoors, you go pot them and bring them in. These disciplinary actions repeated over time will eventually create habits. And when you create habits out of actions that are hard but necessary, success will become inevitable.

I know you’re capable of living your best life. So go get ‘er done and make your success inevitable.

As always, Happy Monday ❤✌

PS: For the ultimate self-discipline coaching, I highly recommend you watch this entire interview with David Goggins on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

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