Adopt Your Own Life Changing Slogan

Adopt Your Own Life Changing Slogan
Many self-help books provide instructions at the beginning detailing how the book should be read or used. Some authors even warn that because everyone’s situation is so unique, each individual may only find one or two things in a book that can actually be applied to their life. And they say you should just forget the rest. While some readers may see it as a waste of time to plow through 250 pages for that one good idea, I actually think it’s worth it. For me reading and considering dozens of ideas is actually fun. When I come across a self-help book with an interesting title and intriguing concept, I can’t wait to crack it open to see what’s inside. And as the authors suggest, I do forget most of what I read, but when I ferret out that one good idea, it stays with me forever.

The book that I am going through now is Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals by M.J. Ryan. Out of the 81 mantras, I only highlighted about three that resonated with me, and that is okay because the premise of the book is what I found most appealing. Right now I am in serious need of a life update and I believe the ideas in this book can help me. Ryan asserts that having personal mantras can alter your thinking, guide your actions and thus change your life.

“Behavioral change is hard, regardless of how accomplished or smart or disciplined you are,” writes Ryan. “You vow to change, but your best intentions end up in the rubble of your deeply ingrained habits over and over again.” Ryan says that she discovered in her coaching practice that if her clients repeated a carefully selected one-line slogan, their lives changed for the better.

“Recent findings in neuroscience explain why these little reminders are so effective,” explains Ryan. “To conserve energy, the brain creates habits of thinking and acting that become automatic.”

Having what Ryan calls “a slogan” can help you notice when you have slipped back into an old unproductive way of thinking/acting. In addition a slogan helps you to recall what you want to do. I’ve used slogans before. I heavily relied on the quote “ yard by hard it’s very hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch” when I was a new mom and overwhelmed by a lifestyle that took about eight years for me to adjust to. I learned how to write and get other things done in between taking care of the never ending needs of small children. But now decades later my life is no longer the harried affair it once was, and I could use some updated phrases to guide me in a totally new direction.

My problem before was extreme time crunch stress. Things like being able to watch a two hour movie from beginning to end in one session without interruption was a luxury. Now that I have more free time than I’ve ever had in my life, I am overcompensating by loading up my DVR and binging on Netflix. This behaviour won’t help me reach my goals. Not when what I want is to add more movement into my life, more nature and more art.

So the slogans from Habit Changers that I found most useful are: “Remember your highest intention” and “Work is the best way to get working.” I also made up one of my own. It’s a question actually.

In the book Two Awesome Hours:Science Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done Josh Davis talks about “decision points” these little pockets of time that we have in between tasks. Instead of ruthlessly plowing through decision points, Davis advises readers to stop in between tasks and reconnect with what is most important. From there decide the next best thing to do. For the last few days when I paused at decision points, I used my newly created slogan and asked myself: “Who do I want to be?”

My new habit changing slogan Who do I want to be? helped me to refrain from checking the news multiple times a day on the 20 something news outlets I have saved on my browser. I am not going to be on CNN debating White House policy and I am not interested in celebrity journalism, so checking the news once a day should suffice.

Ryan makes a point to note that these slogans are not affirmations. “Unlike affirmations, these one-liners are more than reminders--they are actually the instructions for change,” writes Ryan. “More than a prompt to take your medicine, they are the medicine itself.”

While my new slogan helped me to focus on work, the other day when I was at the store I asked myself Who do I want to be? before reaching for a box of Devil Dogs. Unfortunately I was not swayed and I put the unhealthy treat in my basket anyway. But then that evening my slogan motivated me to do some light exercises when I really wanted to check the news--again. As with all self-help tools, I will have to practice using my slogan diligently before it sticks.

Don’t expect lasting change to happen overnight. It can take as long as six to nine months to “build a new pathway,” says Ryan.

I borrowed Habit Changers from the local library.

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