The 5 Keys to Forming Any Habit

By Leo Babauta

We all struggle with our habits — sticking to them, staying motivated, getting started, dealing with disruptions, it can become a big struggle.

And yet, to change our habits is to change our lives. If we can’t make habit changes, we will be stuck in our current way of doing things, which might not be so helpful.

If you want to lose weight, beat procrastination, write a book, get fit, live mindfully … you have to develop habits.

Luckily, the process is simpler than most people realize. Simple, not easy: you have to be committed and really want to make the change. Otherwise you’ll just quit when things get difficult.

Here’s the first thing to keep in mind: just choose one habit for now. Yes, you’ll want to change a bunch of things. Don’t ignore my advice. Later, you can form more, but for now, focus on just one.

With that in mind, follow these simple steps:

  1. Start super small. I’ve said this a million times on this blog, so you might gloss over this one — but don’t. It’s the most important thing. Do one habit at a time, and do it super small. How small? Just meditate for 2 minutes. Just write for 5 minutes. Just do 5 pushups or 5 sun salutations. Just eat one vegetable a day. If you start small, you remove the resistance to starting, which is the hardest part. I used to tell myself, “Just put on your shoes and get out the door,” and that’s how I formed my running habit, and I ended up running several marathons and an ultramarathon because of this small habit. For meditation, I tell myself, “Just get your butt on the cushion.” For drawing, just get out your pad & pencil.
  2. Remove choice. Don’t think about it — make a decision ahead of time to do it every day at the same time for at least a month, then each day, don’t make it a decision. Just start. Have a trigger that’s already in your daily life (like waking up, or showering, brushing your teeth, starting the coffee maker, eating lunch, whatever) and use that as the trigger for an when/then statement: “When I wake up, I’ll meditate for 2 minutes.” Put written reminders near where the trigger happens. The main point is: make the decision to do it every day, and then just do it without thinking.
  3. Get some accountability. Have at least one person you report to — an accountability partner. Or a group of friends. Or a walking/running partner. It doesn’t matter how you set it up, but having someone to report to means you are much more likely to push yourself past resistance when it comes up.
  4. Make it fun, find gratitude. Don’t just do the habit as if it were a chore. See if you can enjoy it. How can you make it fun, play, joyous? Can you find gratitude in the middle of your workout? The habit is much more likely to stick if you focus on the parts you enjoy, rather than mindlessly try to check it off your to-do list.
  5. Be committed. Why are you doing this habit? Reflect on this during the first week, as you do the habit. What deeper reason do you have? Are you doing this habit to help others? As an act of self-love, so that you can be healthier or happier? If you’re just doing it because you think you should, or because it sounds cool, you won’t really push past the resistance.

You can start with just the first item above, but I would recommend adding as many of the other four as you can during your first week or two, because you’ll be increasing your odds of success with each one.

This is doable. You can change your old ways by consciously doing something new repeatedly, until it’s a habit. Take small steps to get started, remove choice so you don’t think about whether to start or not, get some accountability and understand your motivation so you push past resistance, and find gratitude in the midst of the action.

One habit, done daily. Small steps with intention, support and a smile. It can make all the difference in the world.

A Guide to Fear Mastery

By Leo Babauta

We normally think of fear as something that’s holding us back, or something to be avoided … but what if we could see it as a powerful tool?

What if we could master that tool? We’d become masters at life, able to push through fears of rejection, failure, ridicule, and more.

Fear is normally like a barrier for us, keeping us from doing awesome things in life. Or if we push up against that barrier, we see the fear as making the experience miserable, and cringe because of it.

But in truth, fear is a useful thing. Once upon a time, fear was a signal to run from a lion or some other danger, and that was pretty useful. These days, we don’t usually have much physical danger (the lions have more to fear from us), but the same fear signals still happen, even when it’s trying to pursue our dreams or becoming vulnerable to other people.

These days, the fears aren’t physical — they’re more about not being good enough. Here are the top fears in a survey I did earlier this year:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of being inadequate
  3. Fear of rejection
  4. Fear of not being prepared
  5. Fear of being a fraud
  6. Fear of ridicule

You might notice that they are all really the same fear. The fear of not being good enough — if we’re not good enough (inadequate), we might fail, we might get rejected, we might be ridiculed, we might be found a fraud, we might need preparation because without it we won’t be adequate. Our deepest and most common fear is that we’re not good enough. That’s not physical danger, it’s all internal.

So fear, then, is no longer a signal that we should run.

Instead, fear is a useful signal that we should go toward something.

Let’s find out how.

Freedom & the Wall of Fear

Whenever we feel fear, it means we’re up against some kind of wall … on the other side of the wall is some kind of freedom.

This is a freedom we desire, and that’s a healthy thing to want that kind of freedom. But we push up against the fear, and it can hold us back because our normal response is to avoid that wall of fear. By avoiding it, we remain on the side of the wall where we stay comfortable, where we know what we’re doing, where things are easy. We’re trapped by that wall of fear, as long as we keep avoiding it.

What would happen if we pushed through that wall? We’d have freedom: the freedom to connect with others in a vulnerable way, to put ourselves out there and pursue the life of meaning we really want, to publish books and websites and podcasts and poems, to explore the world or create a non-profit organization, to make friends and love with an open heart.

Freedom is on the other side of the wall of fear. So when we feel fear, it’s actually a signal that we should go toward the fear.

Yes, it’s difficult. But avoiding it doesn’t work. It just causes more difficulty. Instead, we can go inward, and see the turmoil that’s in there that the fear is signaling, go into our cave of darkness and process whatever’s in there. That means looking at how we think we’re not good enough, trying to learn to love ourselves, learning to trust ourselves to be OK even if we get rejected or if we fail.

And we can also courageously take action, in the presence of fear.

Acting in the Face of Fear

Just because fear is present, doesn’t mean we have to run. In fact, we can practice acting mindfully even with fear in our bodies.

The practice is to notice that there’s fear, and notice our habitual reaction. Stay with the fear, and notice how it feels as a physical sensation. Notice that it’s not so bad, that we can actually be OK in the middle of that physical sensation. It’s just hormones in our bodies, just an energy of excitement.

Being in the moment, we can take action: write a book, have a conversation, go to a social event, get on stage. We can immerse ourselves fully in the moment, feeling the fear in our bodies but still doing the action.

Fear is a worry about the future, which doesn’t exist. Noticing that, we can turn back to the present moment: what’s here in front of us. We can be grateful for what’s in front of us. We can smile at it, and take action.

This takes practice. Try it now. Practice it every day: go toward whatever scares you, repeatedly. Lean into the fear. Be courageous, pushing through the wall of fear into the freedom of openness

Listen to Me on the Rich Roll Podcast

I had the honor of sitting down with the awesome Rich Roll on his popular podcast … check it out:

Rich Roll Podcast: Leo Babauta’s Mission to End Human Struggle: Ruminations on Suffering, Simplicity & the Power of Mindfulness

It was an absolute joy, and Rich is such an incredible person. I hope you enjoy the podcast.

The Perfect System

By Leo Babauta

Most of us are constantly looking for the Perfect System:

  • The perfect morning routine
  • The perfect system for dealing with email
  • The perfect system for productivity, to end procrastination
  • The perfect system for finances or building wealth
  • The perfect system for learning anything
  • The perfect system for being mindful, getting fit, losing weight, decluttering, building new habits, being a parent, building a new career, and on and on

Entire industries are built off of this desire to find the perfect system for anything that you have uncertainty about.

I know, because I’ve spent a good deal of my life looking for the Perfect System in so many areas. I’ve developed nearly perfect systems in many parts of my life.

But today, I’m going to share something I’ve worked years developing: my Perfect System.

Perfect System for what? For anything, my friend. Anything in life. All of it.

But first, let’s look at why other systems fail.

Why All Other Systems are Crushed

You can put your morning routine into the perfect order, but it won’t solve your problems. Why not? Because it doesn’t address your root problem. It’s only a surface solution.

The root problem is uncertainty.

Let me repeat that, because it’s the key to all of this: the root problem we’re trying to solve when we’re looking for the perfect system in any area of our life is uncertainty.

Does your day feel chaotic, overwhelming, uncontrolled? Then you try to address that chaos by finding a perfect system.

Are you entering a new, scary area in your life? Then you try to find out how others conquered the uncertainty of this area, what their perfect system was. You’d probably be willing to pay hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, for their perfect system.

Are you overwhelmed by email, social media, finances, habits, diet and exercise, clutter, and more? Then you try to deal with the chaos and uncertainty of all of that by buying a book, a program, a course that teaches you the perfect system. I have a few to sell you.

But the certainty you’re looking for doesn’t come, no matter how much you pay. No matter what system you try. It might seem like it at first, so you feel some temporary relief. But in the end, the uncertainty comes back, because you still don’t know what the hell you’re doing. The fear arises. You search some more.

Uncertainty, and the fear and discomfort that arises from uncertainty, will always be there, unless you’re doing something you absolutely know how to do (like watching TV, checking Facebook or playing games). And who wants to only do the easy stuff in life? You’ll never learn anything new, never push into greatness, always run from the fear.

Doing the easy stuff and running from the fear doesn’t work anyway. You still have uncertainty, but you try to ignore it, assuage it with the distractions.

All other systems but mine are crushed by uncertainty, fear, discomfort, and running from these difficulties.

The Perfect System to Crush All Others

OK, so now we see why the other systems are all weak, scrawny, laughable attempts at making our lives better. We scoff at them!

I have a system that will destroy all others, crush them like soft peaches. The Perfect System.

I am going to give it to you for free. Unfortunately, it won’t work for you unless you’re willing to push yourself a bit and do a bit of work. I realize that means it’s not perfect for most of you, who want something easy and certain. You are not worthy of my Perfect System, so don’t read it.

The rest of you (both of you), read on!

Here’s the system:

  1. Notice when you are looking for certainty from a system, course, book, and so on.
  2. Acknowledge that you are feeling uncertainty. That you are trying to find certainty.
  3. Say to yourself, “Certainty is the enemy of awesome. Uncertainty is the fuel for an amazing life.” Repeat it until you believe it. Say it with gusto, zest and verve! Yell it out loud until your neighbors look up from their phones in dismay!
  4. Resolve yourself to not run from uncertainty like a coward, but to face it like a warrior, like a goddess, like a Jedi Ninja Pirate Demigod.
  5. Stay with the feeling of fear and uncertainty. It is uncomfortable. You laugh at the discomfort in derision, laugh at its pathetic attempts at making you flee.
  6. Push further into uncertainty and fear by doing whatever you are afraid of. Feel the fear. Feel the uncertainty. Feel it transforming you into a powerful being, trembling with the discomfort of being amazing and delicious. Cry out from the pain of it all, the pain of being beautiful and alive, the pain of joining with the likes of Odysseus and Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc, the anguish of your divinity, the pangs and torment of becoming a celestial deity.

Repeat until whatever you’re doing becomes comfortable. Then push into new uncertain territory, feeling the groundlessness of growth and learning and fearlessness.

You no longer need to run. You can stay in courage and awesomeness.

You no longer need to find certainty or answers or systems. You have all you need inside you, bursting with light and goodness, shining your powers into the vast and tremulous universe.

The Antidote to Self-Harshness & Resentment

By Leo Babauta

There are two poisons that have hurt me so much over the years:

  1. Self-harshness — I have so often been critical of myself, harsh on myself, about all my little failures, that this harshness has become one of the biggest things holding me back.
  2. Resentment – I’ve increasingly become aware of how I have a mental pattern of resentment that hurts my relationships, especially with my loved ones. They don’t behave the way I want, so I notice myself feeling resentful that they couldn’t do things differently.

The truth is, these are the biggest problems for most of us. We don’t love ourselves the way we are. We don’t love others the way they are. And the harshness that results is painful and harmful to us and the people we love most.

How do we deal with these two poisons?

There’s a simple antidote. It’s not easy, but it’s pretty simple.

It’s a habit of loving that which we normally dislike.

In fact, this small habit can transform all of our problems.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve been procrastinating (I know, a stretch, just go with it). You’re running from something that makes you uncomfortable, and you go to your favorite distraction instead. What if, instead of running from the discomfort and uncertainty — you gave them some love? You wouldn’t have to run. You’d face the uncertainty with love, and just work in the midst of it. (Btw, I have a course on reprogramming procrastination going on right now, join my Sea Change Program to practice with me.)

Imagine that you have anxiety about something coming up (let’s say a presentation). You’re afraid of the presentation, because you have uncertainty about how you’ll do. You want to get away from this uncertainty. What if you practice loving this uncertainty? You might not feel so anxious. What if you gave some of that good love to your feelings of anxiety as well? You wouldn’t be harsh on yourself about being anxious.

It’s easier said than done, of course. So how do you get better at it? Practice.

Antidote Practice

Here’s how to work with this practice:

  1. Imagine a good friend or loved one, someone who you can love whole-heartedly with ease. Send this person some love right now. Wish for them to be happy. Love them just as they are, in all their wonder. Now here’s the important part: notice where in your body you feel this love. This is your Love Muscle (it’s not dirty, get your mind out of the gutter). Practice some more, so that you can call up this feeling of love, from your Love Muscle, at will.
  2. Now turn your Love Muscle onto something about yourself. Notice something about yourself that you like. Work the Love Muscle, and love this thing about yourself.
  3. Practice on something you don’t like. Now try turning the Love Muscle onto something about yourself that you’re usually not fond of. You know how to use the Love Muscle by now, so give it a shot. How can you love this thing about yourself just as it is? Imagine a good friend who is having a hard time, who is flawed … can you love that good friend? Can you produce the same feeling of love about this part of yourself? Try it with different parts of yourself, both physical parts and mental/emotional parts of you.
  4. Practice on other people. Notice things about other people that you like. Send love to these things. Now notice things that you don’t like. Send love to these things as well. Practice on people all day long.
  5. Practice when you feel resentment. When you notice yourself resenting something about another person, or resenting their behavior … send love to this part of the person. Love them as they are. Exercise your Love Muscle. Send love to the part of you that was feeling frustration or resentment.
  6. Practice when you’re feeling harsh on yourself. Whenever you notice yourself disliking something about yourself, send love to this thing about yourself. Send love to the part of you that dislikes the other part.

Basically, you can practice all the time. Over and over, reminding yourself and practicing.

You can practice on everything:

  • When you have been lazy or procrastinated, notice the feeling of harshness or disappointment that comes up in yourself. Give this feeling your full attention, and all of your love.
  • When you eat too much, or eat junk food, notice the feeling of pleasure but also guilt. Give both these feelings your love.
  • When you are interacting with someone and they annoy you, notice the annoyance. Give some loving to this feeling of annoyance, and to the person who is annoying you.
  • When you’ve been distracted all day, maybe feeling a bit anxious … notice the feelings of being distracted, of rushing, of anxiety. Love these feelings with all your heart.
  • When you notice your heart shutting down to someone, or to some experience, notice what it feels like when your heart starts to shut down. Love this feeling of shutting down, and love the thing you’re shutting down to.
  • When you’re meditating and feeling like you’re not good at it, notice what not being good at it feels like. Turn to that experience and give it some love. Love the part of you that is attempting this at all.

And so on. Every experience, every feeling, every person, every aspect of life … you can love it as the Dalai Lama would, as Jesus would, as the biggest-hearted Goddess of Love would. You are practicing loving life itself. And that’s something worth falling in love with.

30-Day Video Series Starts Friday, April 14

My 46th birthday is on Friday, April 14, and I’m going to start the next year of life with a 30-day challenge – creating and posting a new video every day for 30 days. Several entrepreneurial friends are doing this too. We all want to get better at making videos, and this seems like a good way to get up to speed.

I’ll make videos on a variety of personal growth topics, sharing ideas and insights that I think you’ll appreciate.

I haven’t done much video yet, and since I’ll be developing video courses for Conscious Growth Club soon, I want to build more skill and comfort with making videos before I start on the full courses.

Starting this Friday, I’ll post the videos for this series to my YouTube channel and to the blog.

If you’d like to get better at making videos too, I invite you to join me in taking on this 30-day challenge. 🙂

The post 30-Day Video Series Starts Friday, April 14 appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

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Three Practices for the Overwhelmed, Stressed, Anxious

By Leo Babauta

Many of us feel overwhelmed by all we need to do, and it can be downright stressful.

I’d like to share three practices to take you from overwhelmed to just whelmed.

You can’t eliminate stress, anxiety or the feeling of being overwhelmed from your life, nor would you want to. However, you can see them as wonderful places to practice some amazing things that will help in all areas of your life.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious … you can do one or more of these three practices:

  1. The Practice of Training in Uncertainty. When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it comes from a feeling of uncertainty. We don’t know how things are going to go, we worry that we can’t do it all, we don’t know how we’re going to do with any of it, we’re uncertain that we’re good enough to handle all of this. Uncertainty. Our minds don’t like that feeling, and we want stable ground under our feet, something solid, certain, or reassuring. Unfortunately life never gives us that reassuring certainty. So we’re always running, always trying to cope with the uncertainty by doing as much as we can, making lists, finding the perfect software or system, running to distractions. Instead, we can train our minds to stay with the uncertainty, and gradually become more comfortable in this state. And then we can be at peace in the middle of chaos. Read more about this practice.
  2. The Practice of Letting Go. When we’re stressed out, it’s because we’re attached to something — attached to doing everything, attached to how people see us, attached to meeting a goal or deadline or reaching some outcome, attached to our self-image. What if we could let go of these attachments, and just be in the moment? Things would suddenly become easier. Luckily letting go is something that’s within our power. Read more about this practice.
  3. The Practice of Doing Just One Activity. Our minds are stressed and overwhelmed because we’re thinking about our uncertain future … but what if we learned to trust the present moment? What if, instead, we just fully immersed ourselves in the activity before us? This is actually a letting go practice, and it’s also a being-fully-present practice. Just fully be in the activity you’re doing, just one activity. Just read this post. Just answer this single email. Just wash this one dish. As if it were the only activity and the most important activity in the world. Because it is. Read more about this practice.

These are all transformative practices, and you can practice them one at a time or one after the other (in the order above, most likely).

Each only takes a moment, but they can transform your world. Try them, with love in your heart, and see a deep trust in yourself start to grow.

Join Me for a Mindfulness Retreat

Would you like to train with me in these practices? I’d love for you to join me in my Zen Habits Mindfulness Retreat, from April 21-23, 2017 in San Francisco. It’s going to be amazing, and I’m really excited about it.

Read more here, and join me!

CGC Early Access Delayed

Unfortunately I have to delay opening Conscious Growth Club for early access. It’s going to be at least a couple of weeks before we can start inviting people to register.

Initially I’d intended to start sending invites on Friday, March 31. But during testing I encountered a problem with PayPal not referring people back to the correct page on my site. I called PayPal, and their support person was very helpful, verifying that all of the settings on my account were correct. He spent a full 20 minutes on the phone with me checking every possibility. It seemed like a problem on their end, possibly related to a change I asked them to make to my account a week earlier so my account would support certain recurring billing features, which was necessary for the CGC payment plans. The PayPal department that ultimately needed to address the issue wasn’t open till Monday, so I got a call on Monday afternoon from a person on that team, and everything was fixed.

Then I discovered later on Monday that some of the emails (like the receipt email) weren’t sending properly. It was a minor issue, and I got that fixed too. Everything passed testing, and I planned to start sending invites on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I’d be driving to Phoenix from 10am to 3pm. I’m here for the PLF Live conference this week. I pondered whether I should start sending the invite emails in the morning before I left, but I felt it would be best to do it after I arrived in Phoenix. Then I could start sending the invites around 4pm and have the rest of the evening in a quiet hotel room to interact in the new forums with the first people who signed up. While I wouldn’t be as available during the conference, I could still welcome people in the forums in the mornings and at night, and Rachelle would be available the whole time to monitor things throughout the week and to interact with people.

When I got to the hotel room and set up my laptop, I quickly saw that my website was displaying error messages on every page. It turned out that WooCommerce 3.0.0 had been released while I was driving, and my site automatically updated the plugin to the new version. WooCommerce Subscriptions, which I also use, was updated slightly later, and so these two fell out of sync, which was causing the error messages. So I updated that plugin and a few other plugins that needed updating, and the errors went away. I sighed as I realized that due to this major new release, I’d have to retest the CGC registration process just to be on the safe side. I didn’t expect that to take long though.

My testing quickly revealed that this new update broke the ordering process in multiple ways. First, the WooCommerce Stripe plugin, which processes credit card orders, was generating error messages on the checkout page, so it couldn’t even process credit card orders. Second, the update broke some of the page styling, which was making some details of the layout look ugly and misaligned. Third, this update changed some of the base templates used to build the checkout pages, so those would have to be redone. And fourth, it broke the emails, so no receipt or welcome emails were being sent.

On the one hand, I was pretty annoyed. WooCommerce has a history of screwing over their users like this in the past with updates that break previously working features, but I’d thought those days were behind them. After all, this is the most popular ecommerce system out there. Even so, I figured these would be fixable issues that would maybe delay things by a few hours. I fixed the styling issues and updated the templates without much trouble, but even after trying many approaches and contacting WooCommerce support at least three times, the emails and the credit card payments remain broken. I’m sure they can be fixed eventually, but that’s going to take time.

On the other hand, I was also relieved that I hadn’t sent any invites earlier. Otherwise we’d be stuck with a broken checkout process while people were trying to join CGC. The mysterious PayPal issue may have been a blessing in disguise since it slowed me down by a few days, causing these WooCommerce issues to occur only hours before I was about to start sent out invites. So I’m grateful these problems occurred when they did. The timing could have been a lot worse. I feel sad for the WooCommerce users who are finding their online stores broken today after installing the latest update.

Normally having plugins auto-update is fine, but with something like WooCommerce, it’s risky to let it auto-update on a live site as I’ve discovered.

Since I have a conference to attend from today (Wednesday) through Sunday, I’ll have to table working on this till I get back to Vegas next week. This is a big event with more than 1000 people attending, and I need to be present while I’m here. The event is specifically about doing effective launches, so it’s part of my learning process for preparing for the full CGC launch a few months from now.

This situation has encouraged me to pause and consider whether I want to keep using WooCommerce. It’s a popular platform with a lot of features, but getting it to work intelligently from a user’s perspective has taken a lot of customization work. All in all, it’s been a frustrating platform to use, but I have a high tolerance for frustration, so I’ve pushed through a lot of issues to get things working properly. My customizations are pretty commonplace – nothing fancy – such as tweaking the emails that are sent and directing people to a custom thank you page after signing up. This extra effort isn’t an issue by itself, but if the WooCommerce team continues putting out releases that break previous work, I just don’t feel I can trust their direction. I’m looking for a stable platform I can build upon in the years ahead. I’m coming to see that WooCommerce isn’t the right choice. Overall I’ve found this platform disappointing.

Since I have to focus on the conference anyway for the next several days, I’ll take some time to consider next steps regarding the CGC early access signup process. At this point I think it’s likely that I’ll just dump WooCommerce outright and start fresh with something else. Even if I fix the immediate problems with WooCommerce and get it working again next week, I just don’t feel safe using it and building upon it further. I’ve been using it for about a year, including for registrations for last year’s workshops. and based on what I’ve experienced thus far, I think the development team is making some very questionable decisions that are likely to cause me more issues in the long run.

Most of the customizations I made with WooCommerce could be readily applied to a different platform without too much difficulty, but if I switch platforms now, it will delay opening CGC for early access by at least a couple of weeks. I’ll take a fresh look at this next week, but my priority is to lay an intelligent foundation for the years ahead, not to force a square peg into a round hole.

I’m sorry for the delay. I’d really wanted to let people join CGC sooner, especially since many people are excited to be part of the early access. Sometimes you just have to bow to reality, be flexible, and pivot. We’ll get this working one way or another.

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Undone: How to Change Our Procrastination Patterns

By Leo Babauta

Procrastination starts from an avoidance of something from fear, then becomes a pattern that hardens into a habit.

We reinforce this procrastination habit through years of practice, and it hurts us in so many ways in our lives — not only with work tasks, but much more.

The procrastination habit affects:

  • Dealing with our finances head-on
  • Health habits (putting off exercise, for example)
  • Dealing with our health problems (putting it off makes it much worse)
  • Relationships (putting off difficult conversations)
  • Creating, art, meaningful work
  • Decluttering and simplifying
  • Being on time (and being late can cause us stress)
  • Learning new things

And much more. Those are just some of the most visible examples, but we procrastinate all day long, by checking our phones, favorite websites, email, messages, news, watching TV, playing games, and … well, you all know your favorite procrastination techniques.

So the question becomes, how do we stop hurting ourselves, after all these years? How do we start to unravel our hardened procrastination habits and create more helpful patterns?

The answer is to start thinking of these hardened patterns as grooves.

The Grooves of Our Habits

When you first procrastinated, you didn’t have a hardened pattern. You had a choice. You could do your homework (or pick up your toys, perhaps), or you could put that off until later and do something else that’s perhaps more fun.

You felt fear or resistance with one task, which made the other option more appealing. You chose the easy route, and that felt good in the moment. There was immediate reward. There was difficulty later, but that was something future you had to deal with.

All other choices like this were rewarded with immediate gratification. So by repeating this choice over and over, you start to wear a groove into the ground. After awhile, the reward isn’t even needed … the groove becomes so much easier to follow, and getting out of the groove is so much harder. The longer we keep sticking with the groove, the harder it is to change.

Habits are grooves. You stick to the old ones, until you’re willing to put in the effort to get out of the grooves and make new choices.

How do you get out of the groove you’ve made? Conscious effort.

How to Change Your Patterns, or Get Your Groove On

The steps of breaking out of a groove are simple, but they require concentrated effort:

  1. Decide that you’re tired of the old groove. The old groove isn’t serving you. It’s hurting you. When you decide you’re tired of hurting yourself with this particular patterns, you’re ready to change. Assess whether you’re ready right now.
  2. Commit to conscious change. When you’re ready to stop hurting yourself with the old pattern, make a commitment to practice and to be very conscious in changing your groove. Making the commitment to someone else, or a small group of friends or family, is a powerful way to commit.
  3. Set aside time for deliberate practice. You’re not going to change your groove haphazardly. You have to practice consciously and with deliberate effort. Set aside a small practice period each day — just 5 minutes to start with. Don’t put off the task of blocking off your practice period — remember, you’re deliberately practicing a new pattern! I recommend 5-10 minutes every day of the week, first thing in the morning before you check email or your phone or computer. Have a reminder where you will see it first thing in the morning.
  4. Set an intention for your practice. Before you start, tap into your reason by remembering why you’re practicing. In what ways is this hurting you in your life? Is it hurting your career, health, happiness, relationships, finances, meaningful work, your loved ones? Set an intention to practice in order to make these things better.
  5. Set yourself a task. Pick something you’ve been putting off (but perhaps not your hardest or most uncomfortable tasks to start with). Commit to doing that task for just 5 minutes.
  6. Let yourself do nothing else, and watch your patterns. Sit there and do nothing but that task, or do nothing at all. Notice when you have the urge to switch to something else, to get up and get away. Those are your old patterns showing themselves, which in itself is hugely valuable. But just observe the urges, without acting on them but also without judgment. Their just urges, just feelings that arise, not anything to worry about. Just watch, don’t act, just sit and face the urges. Then return to the task. Over and over, until this is your new groove.

It’s possible to create new grooves, new patterns, that serve you better. I’ve done it dozens of times in my life, perhaps more than a hundred in the last decade. I’m no stronger than anyone else, and so if I can do it, you can too.

The Undone Course

I’m launching a new video course today in my Sea Change Program called Undone: Reprogramming the Procrastination Habit.

I invite you to join us in this 4-week course, by joining Sea Change today.

Sea Change is my monthly membership program for changing habits, learning mindfulness and changing your life. Each month, we focus on something different, and this month it’s procrastination.

What you’ll get with this course:

  1. Two video lessons per week
  2. Exercises to work with your procrastination patterns mindfully
  3. A challenge to do these exercises a short time six days a week for the whole month
  4. A weekly check-in for the challenge so you stay accountable
  5. A live video webinar (for Gold members) and the ability to submit questions for me to answer

I encourage you to join me and have your efforts to change your old patterns be supported by me and more than a thousand other Sea Change members.

Join Sea Change today and start the course.

CGC Progress Logs

One nice feature we’ll have in Conscious Growth Club is a special Progress & Accountability forum section for members to share progress updates on their goals, which is great for accountability. Members will be able to comment on each other’s progress logs too, so they can share feedback, advice, and suggestions.

Today I started my own progress log where I’ll share updates on CGC’s continued development as we build out more features and move towards the inevitable launch. Every early access member will be able to see these updates, so we’ll have clear progress visibility within the group.

A lot of people on the early access list said they wanted help with accountability and taking action, so this is one of many ways we’ll be able to provide that kind of support. I think it will be especially encouraging when members see each other making progress. It’s hard not to feel motivated to get into action when your peers are making good progress on their goals.

Here’s a screenshot of the first two posts from the progress log I just started, so you can see what it looks like.

CGC Progress LogImagine how much progress you’ll make in a year by sharing regular updates on your goals with growth-minded people who will hold you accountable – and who are sharing their progress as well. It’s all about moving forward with daily action.

The post CGC Progress Logs appeared first on Steve Pavlina - Personal Development for Smart People.

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An Intimate Retreat to Create Mindfulness, Life Change & Magic

By Leo Babauta

One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced was opening my heart and making powerful, intimate connections with 20+ strangers in the cloud rainforest of Ecuador last year.

It was this experience of connection and vulnerability, mindfulness and reflecting on life purpose, that inspired me to create my own live, intimate experience: the Zen Habits Mindfulness Retreat in San Francisco (April 21-23, 2017).

I learned through my cloud rainforest experience that when people come together wanting to change their lives, willing to be open and share, to open themselves to reflection and learning … magic can happen. That’s what I’d like to help create in April.

The retreat I’m creating is aimed at teaching you key mindfulness skills that can help you transform your life.

I’m limiting it to 16 spots, to keep it intimate, so I would get your spot immediately if you’d like to attend.

What This Retreat is About

It’s a 2.5-day retreat that focuses on:

  • Mindfulness practices
  • Using mindfulness to deal with our struggles and old patterns
  • Finding joy and gratitude in life
  • Seeing the underlying goodness in ourselves & overcome dissatisfaction with ourselves
  • Dealing with uncertainty, developing trust in the process
  • Finding what happens when you have no escape

Through these practices, we’ll help you develop tools that can lead to the changes you’ve been hoping for.

We will learn different types of meditations and practice exercises that help us work with our struggles.

We will also explore San Francisco a bit, putting our mindfulness practices into action in the real world, through:

  • Mindful tea tasting
  • Mindful chocolate tasting
  • Delicious vegan food
  • We’ll go on an easy hike
  • We’ll form connections with each other to support our life changes

I’m so excited to have you join me in one of my favorite cities in the world, working on things that have changed my life completely and that I hope will change yours as well.

The Power of a Retreat

Why go on a retreat? Because in our busy lives, we don’t often have time to step back and look at the big picture.

In this retreat, we’ll be taking time for ourselves. For our happiness and for developing a more mindful life. For understanding how our minds work and how we can start to effect change.

This is something we don’t take time to do, because we’re so busy … by signing up for this retreat, you’re saying that it’s important to take time out for yourself, to work on these issues and to find a better path. You’re saying that you’re important enough to find the time to work on this.

I invite you to make the time, and work with me.

Change Your Life

A lot of us feel stuck in our lives, not able to break out of our old patterns … we have difficulty:

  • changing our habits
  • being more mindful
  • finding our passions
  • overcoming our fears and doubts
  • finding happiness with ourselves
  • connecting to others
  • dealing with anxiety and frustrations
  • being patient
  • and more

This retreat is about breaking through those patterns, understanding why they have such power over us, and finding a mindful path into new territory.

If you go through this retreat with the ability to break through those old patterns and change your life … would it be worth it to you?

Discounted Price for the Retreat

The retreat includes:

  • Accommodations (sharing an AirBnb apartment with other participants, with your own room)
  • Meals (gourmet vegan food)
  • Activities (workshops, tea tasting, chocolate tasting, hike)

It does not include your flight to San Francisco.

The investment for all of this, for changing your life, is $3,395 reduced to $2,395 until April 7, 2017:

Join My Mindfulness Retreat

I’ll be renting a couple AirBnb apartments with separate beds available (each in their own room), so you can stay in an apartment with other retreat participants … you’ll get a bed in your own bedroom (unless you choose to share a Queen bed with a friend or your spouse/partner).

I am really excited about this retreat and I hope you’ll join me!

Questions & Answers

You might have some questions … here are a few answers:

Q: Who is this retreat for?

A: It’s for someone who is willing to take a weekend to change their life. Someone who has been struggling and is open to practicing mindfulness and changing mental patterns. Someone who is ready to let go of old patterns and embrace new ones. Someone who is willing to put in the work for better habits and a transformed life.

Q: Are airfare or accommodations included?

A: Airfare is not included, you’ll need to book tickets on your own. Accommodations for the two nights are included, where you’ll be staying in an AirBnb apartment with other participants.

Q: What if I don’t like vegan food?

A: I’d suggest bringing an open and flexible mind to the retreat, and the food we’ll be eating is pretty delicious, and it’s included in the cost … however, you are free to go off and explore on your own, and buy your own food. In that case, you’ll be missing out on group meals, unfortunately.

Q: Can I book two retreat spots with a shared bed with my partner or friend?

A: Sure! In this case, book two spots. Then email us to let us know you want to share a Queen-sized bed with your partner or friend, and I’ll refund you the cost of an extra bed.

Q: What is your refund policy?

A: No refunds after April 7, 2017. If you buy a spot, you’re preventing others from buying them, as spots are limited. So if you don’t ask for a refund by April 7, you’ll lose your fee if you can’t make it. If you ask for a refund before April 7, we’ll refund 80% of your fee.

Q: I just bought a spot, now what?

A: There is a PDF download that came with your purchase, please download and read that for more info. We’ll also be sending you a few emails over the next month, please read these and reply with your info!

Q: What do I need for this retreat?

A: A notebook and pen for notes, layered clothing for San Francisco’s fluctuating weather, and an open and flexible mind. A willingness to change and practice. An open heart. Toiletries.

Join My Mindfulness Retreat