I know there are so many of you out there who really want to change your lives but feel confined by your excuses. It’s like your mind – the way you think and create excuses and exceptions – holds you back. I get it. I’ve been there. I was the same way.
I was desperate for a different life.
I weighed over 350 pounds and was deeply depressed.
I made good money but I was living paycheck to paycheck and felt stuck. My money was already spoken for before it hit my bank account!
I knew there was a different way to live and I wanted it badly, yet there I was, continuing to make excuses and talk myself out of doing the work every single day.
Eventually, I got there. Not only did I pay off all my debts, I created wealth.
Not only did I lose about 150 pounds, I also became someone who genuinely desires to eat well!
I didn’t create these changes by following a diet or list of rules. I didn’t follow a prescribed plan. I took it one day at a time and made these major transformations by changing how I think. There were 3 tools that were super helpful in changing my thoughts and I’m going to give you a look at those 3 tools today!
The first thing I do every single morning, within 5 minutes of waking, is grab my journal. I don’t count calories or track macros, but journaling has been the single most powerful free tool that has helped me change my entire life.
Journaling has improved my business, my health, my relationships, my overall happiness, my finances and basically everything else in my life!
When I first started journaling, my sole objective was to pay more attention to my choices. For so long, I had told myself that overeating felt “good” and eating healthy was discipline and deprivation. Journaling showed me how false that was! Overeating made me feel awful! It made me tired, moody and hopeless. As I noticed the truth about how my choices made me feel, things began to shift.
More recently, I’ve adjusted my journaling a little bit to a concept I was introduced to in the book Atomic Habits. I call it “identity journaling” and it’s essentially the practice by which I show up each day as the person I want to be, instead of the person I feel I am.
I talk about this in detail in episode 559 of the Primal Potential podcast – so take a listen to that – but identity journaling looks a lot like this:
If I were to go through THIS day as the person I want to be, what would that look like?
Then, I get specific. I’m not writing in generalities, I’m detailing specifics.
I’ll use today as an example. Today is a very, very full day. My calendar is back-to-back from 5am to 9pm, I have a very unpleasant stomach bug and I’m leaving tomorrow for a 6-day business trip to California (that I’m not packed for).
I begin the day by asking, “If I were the very best version of myself, how will I go through this day?”
I’m going to take my time today. I’m not going to rush. There’s enough time. Besides, rushing makes more stress. Rushing doesn’t make more time. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I’m going to come back to the things that MUST be done today and I’m not going to pressure myself to do things that don’t need to be done. I don’t need to do show notes or file creation for the podcasts I’m recording. If I get to it, great. If I don’t, there’s time another day.
I won’t see being sick as a burden. It’s actually saving me time today! I don’t need to squeeze in a workout, I need to take time to rest.
I don’t need to stress over packing for Cali. This trip is a blessing, not a burden, and what I wear is really not too important. Whatever I bring will be fine.
I’m going to make today a happy, calm day with boyfriend. I’ll be present and patient. I will make time to connect with him before leaving. I will go out of my way to make him feel special.
I’ll choose to get excited about my meeting with Mike, not stressed or overwhelmed. Nothing has to be figured out today.
I will approach the house rennovations with excitement and confidence, not fear. I’m a creative, energetic problem solver and there is nothing to fear!
For context, that short journal entry took about 2 minutes. It would typically include thoughts about how I’ll eat today – as the best version of me – and how I’d workout. But, since I have a stomach bug, that’s not on the table for today.
There’s more that goes into identity journaling, so absolutely listen to episode 559 for more information!
This one thing has dramatically changed my life and the lives of many of my clients!
To behave differently, we have to think differently because our thoughts drive our actions. For as long as you’re still thinking the same way, you’ll make the same choices. I wish the idea of “thinking differently” was as easy as deciding to change your thoughts, but it’s not.
In fact, that’s one of the most common questions I get. “My thoughts are automatic. They’re almost subconscious. How do I change them?”
That’s a FANTASTIC and perfect question. Awareness is a big part of it, which is why I journal and meditate. The other big part is reading.
When I read, I expose myself to new ways of thinking. When I challenge myself to act on what I’ve read, I now have a tool to help me change the way I think in a very specific way.
The list of books that have helped me change the most is a long one, but here are a few of the most valuable ones.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Atomic Habits by James Clear
You can find an action-based guide to the changes I’ve made in my new book, Chasing Cupcakes.
If your first thought is, “I’ve tried to meditate, I just can’t do it. My brain is way too crazy for that!” I understand. I was that way, too. I tried meditation for years before I started practicing in a way that works for me.
Before I tell you how I meditate, I need to tell you why I meditate.
One of the primary barriers to change in my life had been that I acted without thought. I was reactive.
There’s a beautiful quote from Viktor Frankl that says,
“Between stimulus and response there is a pause. In that pause lies our power and our freedom.”
In my life, I couldn’t find the pause until after the moment was over. I was rushing through my thoughts, rushing through my choices, rushing through my life.
I had to create that pause. I had to capitalize on that pause, so I could think differently and act differently. Meditation helps me do that.
I’ve found that it takes the edge off. The tension to act immediately on an urge or impulse is so much less since I’ve started meditating. It’s been a game changer. Besides, it’s free! And, there are a ton of other health benefits that go along with helping me calm down and make better decisions.
There are many ways to meditate and none of them are wrong. The type of meditation I’ve found works best for me is called Transcendental Meditation (TM).
What I love most about TM is that you’re not trying to stop thought. The thoughts come and that’s fine. It’s not about the absence of thought but rather the awareness of it. I’ve talked about my experience with TM on the Primal Potential podcast here.
If you’re thinking that you don’t have time to meditate, I want to share an important perspective with you. Meditation isn’t spending your time, it’s investing your time. Think about it: when you spend your money, it’s gone. When you invest your money, more money comes back to you. Investing is a money-making move, not a money-spending more.
Meditation is the same way. The more time I give to meditation, the more I get back by way of being more focused, more productive, more creative and less overwhelmed.
These are three free or nearly-free strategies. If you use the library for your books, these strategies are all free and the payoff is HUGE. You don’t have to start with all of them. In fact, please don’t start with all of them! Start small and incorporate one, small change at a time!
If you’d like to check out a more comprehensive guide to the tools of change creation, take a look at Chasing Cupcakes. If you’re not a reader, I’ve got you covered! First, it’s available on Audible as an audiobook you can listen to! And, if you’re a new Audible customer, you can get a free 30-day trial AND your first book free if you register via audibletrial.com/primalpotential.
Here’s to creating change! Every choice is a chance!