Change And New Beginnings

Every year tends to bring with it a new chapter. A new beginning. A new adventure. The concept of novelty is highly sought after, despite how terrifying it can be. We’re creatures of habit, but we also get bored very quickly.

Life can be quite painful. We encounter tragedy at every corner. It’s essentially inevitable. What we have control over is our perception, reaction and ability to adapt. Let’s talk about accepting change, becoming resilient and seeking novel experiences.

Accepting Change

To really understand why it’s so important to accept change, I always think about this quote:

“Change is inevitable, resistance is futile.”

It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. Nothing stays the same. All you can do is prepare and become receptive to the disruptions that are inbound.

I recently talked to a friend of mine about the concept of being in a cocoon. We start off being little caterpillars, content with our leaves and staying on the same branch – immature. Then life gets a little trickier and we decide to engulf ourselves in a chrysalis. It feels safer, more comfortable and we don’t have to deal with the external world.

The initial discomfort is a crucial step in the metamorphosis. It catalyzes our transformation into the best version of ourselves. Once we’ve adequately accepted the change, we start evolving into a butterfly and break out of the cocoon – matured. This is the point of escape; from limitations, negative self-talk and denial. We fly into the world stronger, faster, braver and more beautiful than ever.

What we don’t realize is that the difficult and new circumstances were a critical aspect of the transformation. We require novelty and a certain degree of hardship to grow.

Becoming Resilient

And so, when we learn to continuously embrace challenges and try to overcome them, we become resilient. The reason I love talking about resilience is because it’s at the heart of learning.

When we experience change or disruption, we’re forced to adapt. When we learn to continuously adapt, it becomes easier for us to deal with more unprecedented changes. The cycle essentially feeds itself. We need to approach our fears with courage and prove to ourselves that we truly are capable of overcoming them.

Resilience allows us to try again. It allows us to keep pushing. It prevents us from giving up because deep down we know, we can do it.

If you really want to observe resilience at its best, just spend time in nature. Watch the trees and plants. Notice how they have absolutely no control over their environment, yet they find ways to thrive. Follow your nature and embrace the inevitable changes that are coming your way. In fact, you should go out of your way to face challenges that you’ve never experienced before.

Seeking Novel Experiences

Instead of waiting for changes to come your way, why don’t you go out to face them instead? I don’t just mean trying out a new restaurant or hotel, but I mean actual adventures that require some form of courage and dedication (I can see how you could argue that for restaurants or hotels, but you get my point here).

What I want you to understand here is that you can mentally (and I suppose physically) train yourself to get used to adapting. Not just to survive, but to get the hang of it and thrive. You prove to yourself that you’re capable of overcoming the discomfort, difficulty and uncertainty. The more you leave your comfort zone, the more you’re exposing yourself to growth.

https://www.fe.training/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/The-Comfort-Zone-diagram.jpg

The point I’m trying to make is that we’re always going encounter unfamiliar situations. It’s going to be scary, overwhelming and challenging. What we can control is our approach to and perception of those situations. We can look at the circumstances we’ve overcome in the past and utilize the same skills again in the future. We can turn those challenges into opportunities to grow.

If you just reflect over the past few months, you’ll realize that you’ve been remarkably resilient. You’ve endured an incredible amount of hardship and suffering. Yet you’re still here. You’re still fighting. You’re still giving it your best. Don’t give up when it’s hard. Smile and embrace the challenge. It’s going to transform you into the beautiful butterfly that you’ve been destined to become.

Atomic Habits

Have you ever gotten stuck trying to implement a really important habit? Why is it so hard to stay consistent? How often do you start a new activity with lots of energy, only to just stop after a few days?

Today’s post will be all about habit formation and how to incorporate consistency into your life. I’ll use the techniques I gained from ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear and some of my own little life hacks. You’ll probably want to get a journal out and take down some notes, this will be very interesting!

I’ll discuss what, how and why to form habits, then I’ll introduce you to a concept called habit-stacking and the 2-minute rule.

What are habits? –> Outcome

A habit is essentially a behaviour that is performed automatically or on a regular basis. They are mental shortcuts learned from experience. Your personal feedback loop to living more efficiently.

“Success is the product of daily habits, not a once-in-a-lifetime transformation.”

Let’s identify the different between goal-oriented habits and system-oriented habits. Goals are essentially about the results you’d like to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. You need to be more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

It’s your commitment to the process that will determine your progress. I think most of the time we become obsessed with achieving a certain goal, without putting much thought into how we’re actually going to get there. So how can we form systems that will allow us to reach those goals?

“If you can get 1% better each day, you’ll end up 37x times better after 365 days.”

How do you form habits that last? –> Processes

It starts with trial and error. The feedback loop involves trying, failing, learning and then trying differently. The emphasis here is on the failing, because that’s often the most demotivating part. You need to realize that failure is part of growth. Progress requires you to unlearn and then relearn. It’s all part of the plan.

There are 2 phases each containing 2 subcategories to the habit loop; a problem phase and a solution phase. The problem phase consists of Cue and Craving, whilst the solution phase consists of Response and Reward.

To put it simply: the cue is about noticing a reward (trigger), craving is wanting that reward (desire), response is about working towards the reward (motivation) and reward ultimately satisfies us or teaches us. This in turn associates the reward with the cue.

Four laws of behaviour change:

  1. Make it obvious
  2. Make it attractive
  3. Make it easy
  4. Make it satisfying

If you combine that concept with the four laws of behaviour change, you’ll amplify the habit formation process. So why form habits?

Why should you form habits? –> Identity

When a habit becomes part of your identity, it feeds the loop that will continuously motivate you. Decide who you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small consistent wins.

Keep the benefits of the habit you’re about to form at the forefront of your mind. You want to remind yourself on a regular basis how this will serve you and why you’re pursuing it.

Familiarize yourself with the concept of failure, because pain is an effective teacher. The more you identify as a ‘perfectionist’ or someone who never fails, the less likely you are to overcome the fear of failure.

Habit stacking

This is a simple trick whereby you pair a new habit with an existing one. For example, if you want to start reading more every night before you go to bed, start immediately after you brush your teeth. This makes it easier for your mind to remember when to do it.

“We are more likely to repeat a behaviour when the experience is satisfying.”

You’re pairing those habits together so that you can stay consistent. Let’s dive into how to develop that consistency.

The two-minute rule

You need to make it as easy as possible to get started. This is one of the most important concepts to learn, because we are often very resistant to habits that seem like mountains to climb.

The two-minute rule is essentially sticking to the new habit for 2 minutes everyday. Want to start reading? Do it for 2 minutes. Want to start meditating? Do it for 2 minutes. Want to start exercising? Do it for 2 minutes.

Master the habit of showing up. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to do it. Once it starts becoming part of who you are, you can optimize and push yourself a little more. The key is to get comfortable with consistency.

“A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.”

I hope this has served you in some way. It’s not easy to form habits that last, but once you make it part of who you are, you’ll never be able to let go. Remember to focus on processes not just goals when forming habits. You will slip up here and there, but don’t give up. You will get there, just keep trying your best.

“The process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself.”

If you have any thoughts or questions that you’d like to share, feel free to comment below.

Life Learners

Are you someone who’s intrigued by the wonders of the world? Do you enjoy having thought-provoking questions that inspire you? Where do you go to have uncomfortable conversations? We are all students of life and there’s no limit to how much we’re able to learn. Let’s find out a little more about what this initiative entails.

I’ll use the format shown below, so you can truly understand the philosophy and vision behind 20 Life Learners. I hope that you are keen to grow and join us on this journey.

By Simon Sinek

Why

I love starting with Why, because intentions truly are the driving force behind behaviours. So, let’s unravel the first layer of The Golden Circle. This group was initiated by Carmen De Beer to create a space for her friends to share their knowledge and wisdom.

The purpose of Life Learners is to ensure that each of us are constantly gaining knowledge. To serve the world around us with ideas and passion. Mark Twain put it beautifully:

“Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

We seek to inspire and educate people on a wide range of topics so they can be better “humans of life”. Humans that are more understanding, accepting and up-to-date with the ever expanding consciousness in the world.

Our goal is for ordinary people to share their stories about things that matter but are often not taught in lecture rooms and schools.

How

By having the conversations that matter. By sharing our stories and experiences. By making the uncomfortable conversations comfortable.

We have meetings every Thursday where a certain member of the group presents a topic of their choice. These are often done in a PechaKucha style, where 20 images are spoken about for 20 seconds each. This allows us to share our ideas in 400 seconds of bite-size information.

The conversations are recorded and uploaded to both YouTube and Instagram. The post-presentation discussion is often where the most benefit is derived from. As we each contribute to what we’ve learned and ask intriguing questions.

What

20 Life Learners is a platform where ideas and knowledge can be shared by anyone. With the world becoming more reliant on people being aware of a greater range of topics, this is a space to learn about everything and anything. Where are people suppose to learn and discuss things that their circles don’t discuss? Here.

The topics that we will be discussing range from all aspects of our existence, this includes (but is certainly not limited to):

  • Mindfulness
  • Transformation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Race
  • Machine learning
  • Self-improvement
  • Education
  • Gender

The aim is to have enlightening conversations that you may have not been able to within your own circle of friends. We hope to make taboo uncomfortable topics, comfortable.

Who are we?

We’re an ordinary bunch of South Africans in their twenties with extraordinary ideas. We’ve come together as friends and strangers to share our stories and nuggets of knowledge.

If you’d like to find out more, check out the Instagram page below. We’ll constantly keep it updated with what to expect, the topic of the week and who will be presenting.

Where are we going?

One day we hope to have a website that will ultimately contain many resources for people to learn more about topics discussed and also to submit their own presentations. We hope for this to become like ‘Humans of New York’ meets TED, with regular folks who can be contacted to keep the conversations going.

Please share it far and wide to help as many other people learn. We want to teach you things and learn for ourselves, everything we should’ve learned at school. Thank you for joining us! #ConversationsThatMatter