DIY Life Coach

New Year, New You?

Hi and Happy 2021!
Now that the rush of the new year is past, let’s talk shop. New Year resolutions come and go (mostly go). You may have even tried one yourself. If it’s going well, great. If it’s not going well . . . well, that’s far more common.

If you’re beating yourself up about a failed resolution or thinking you can get a do-over, stop it.


If you haven’t already made the change to have your resolution “happen” on autopilot, then you just aren’t going to. So, how about something more effective?

Goal v Process

Outcome goals don’t last. Process goals do.

When you focus on process, the path is mastery. If you only focus on the goal - six pack abs, an accolade from RAS, you will have peaks and valleys of productivity. You will operate on luck and whim. You will be driven by external guides. You will have less control of your outcomes.

If instead you focus on the process of the thing - the daily writing, the daily hike, the monthly report, and you find a way to enjoy the process of the discovery of the thing, you will find fulfillment in the thing. You will enjoy your days. Now. (Almost) Everyday. Enjoy the process of running. Enjoy the process of creating the monthly investor reports.

Don’t put off your enjoyment for some mythical future; it leaves you unfulfilled. Focus on enjoying the process to enjoy now.

When working through the Integrated Life course, I ask you to focus on and even idealize a long term picture. The literal end picture isn’t that important but is helpful for determining which processes you need in your life then and now. Once you've understood the processes you need to get where you want to go, those processes should be the focus of your work.

Not the thing you want, the process it takes to get the thing.

You want to be a brilliant writer? Okay, focus on writing. Sporadic writing - once a month or quarter for example, won't get you enough practice to become a much better writer. You must be a writer to be a brilliant writer. So make writing daily a habit.

Drill down from here. You want to be a brilliant what writer? Get specific. You want to be a brilliant Shareholder Report Writer - hey, it’s your life - so write shareholder reports. Rewrite old shareholder reports. Use Warren Buffet's annual Christmas letter to rewrite for practice to understand what makes them brilliant. What would you keep. What would you delete? Find joy in the process of writing and rewriting those reports. Focus on improving your effort each time you finish a report.

You may or may not become a brilliant Shareholder report writer, but you will enjoy your day-to-day and that is brilliant!

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Or do you procrastinate? How do you get more practice when there is nothing due or nothing pressing?

Bundle the new habit with an existing habit. Add re-writing old shareholder reports to your day. You only get to have your daily coffee break if you are also writing while having it. In time, the writing will become it's own habit, but this gets you traction. A little traction is necessary at the beginning. Eventually it will become part of your identity.

What ever you think your identity is, you will operate accordingly.

Want v enjoy, making and breaking habits

There is a huge disconnect between what we want and what we actually enjoy. They’re different neurological processes. That’s why you can desperately crave a chocolate bar, but when you actually eat it, it’s only OK. Or why you often don’t feel like going out for a run at all — it seems like kind of a hassle, it’s too cold/hot/muggy, your clothes are stinky — but when you actually get out, you feel remarkably better in 10 minutes.

If you want to stop a habit or start a habit, really notice and internalize that disconnect. Pay attention to your next YT video or drink or run. It’s like mindfulness but for noticing the pleasantness. How does it actually taste? How does it feel? Not, “how did you imagine it would taste when you were craving it,” but how does it actually taste? Does it smell nice? How do you feel — do you actually feel more vital, or do you feel worse?

Check in with yourself. Are my thoughts useful. How do my thoughts behave? Helpful? Harmful? Distracted?

Then recognize that you can make the decision to disconnect the want. It’s just a thought in your mind. Starve it of attention. To get you started, think about the want v enjoy for that thing for 10 minutes.

Even for something very addictive - something that is messing around with your brain’s chemistry, smoking for example, the 10-minute delay may be enough for the craving to pass. If not, spend another 10-minutes after the thing evaluating how much you actually enjoyed the thing. Do you feel more relaxed now? More vital? More productive? Or do you feel more agitated? Stinky? Gross? Lazy?

There’s no purpose to the self flagellation that comes with starting and stopping habits. It’s just data. So recognize when you’re feeding off of your own guilt trip. Self abuse is a habit you may want to break with this 10-minute plan.

If you're trying to give up smoking for example, the more you zoom in on how you feel afterward the better. If you feel gross or agitated afterward, it is easier to stop yourself before you take the drag when you employ the want v enjoy thought process before lighting up.

But what if you enjoy the thing?

This is what most mindfulness training ignores. What if you really enjoy the aroma of the smoking, etc.? Clue in to what it is that you enjoy. I don't know enough about smoking here, but hang with me. Let's say it's the aroma that you really enjoy (beyond the nicotine rush). One, you may be lying to yourself - only you can know that. So check yourself. Do you really actually enjoy the aroma? Two, start smoking something you dislike a bit, something that smells less good. Tolerable, but not delightful. Replace your favorites with something you dislike**.

Then start the want v enjoy process for the thing (smoking in our example) against the new dreaded cigarette.

Consistent execution of your plan builds your strength. This is how you actually achieve mindfulness.

No funky leg folds or mantras needed.

You, just as you are, are all that is needed.

**I suggest you pick something you dislike rather than hate, why? Love and hate are extreme emotional responses. If you hate something you are already emotionally entangled with it. It takes up mental space. That means it's already in your brain and that much closer to becoming something you need. By choosing something you merely dislike, you are more ambivalent toward that thing. It becomes easier to walk away from it. You take the intensity of the habit down several notches.

Other Things You May Enjoy


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See you in a month! -Kate
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