Chunking Down-Strategy of Self-discipline

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By Niel Malan - Business Coach. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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Full Transcript

[The following is the full transcript of this Vlog: “Chunking Down – Strategy of Self-discipline “

NIEL MALAN:

Hey everybody. Welcome back to another edition of our weekly blog where we continue with our series on creating lasting change and succeeding with self-discipline and willpower. If you need to our series we’ve done two blogs so far on the issue of increasing your levels of self-discipline and willpower. And in our first video we kind of tried to answer the question is it possible to get more willpower? The answer is yes. We deducted that it often comes down to strategy more so than being born with willpower and self-discipline. In last week’s video we spoke about a key difference in mindset the difference, the between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, if you haven’t watched those the videos I strongly suggest you go and watch them because they contain some really key distinctions regarding self-discipline and willpower. Today what I want to talk to you about is one of the mental strategies that people that are really good willpower, you know some people, they just seem to be good with willpower. Some people to seem to be good with self-discipline, they finish what they start, they follow through they are methodical and other people seem to just be disastrous, you know. So we’ve already kind of concluded that a lot of it is strategy actually why people that are good at self-discipline and willpower, why they’re good at it is strategy. And one of the strategies, one of the mental strategies that I want to talk to you about today is a concept called chunking down.

Now when I studied neuro-linguistic programming I was first introduced to this idea of chunking and basically what it means is that your mind creates, puts informations into compartments, puts it into chunks and you can get really big chunks or you can get small chunks. Now let me by way of example tell you how most people approach a self-discipline challenge that they end up failing with, and let’s take one that most people can relate to, diet and exercise, right? And I know you’ve never gone there but you probably know someone else that’s tried this before. So let’s have a look at the strategy most people follow when they try to lose weight and when they try to tackle the subject of exercise and health. But let’s specifically focus on on weight loss. Right, what would most people do? First of all, they want to lose fifty kilograms in three months or in two months. It took twenty years to build it up but no, it’s going to be lost immediately right. Then what they would do is they start off and basically the diet is just pretty much lettuce leaves. Right? Lettuce leaves, you know there’s this new cabbage diet soup, you’ve got to stop all things, just this cabbage, and you have to go and exercise for an hour a day. Right? Now now that’s called a really big chunk. In fact that’s called a Herculean massive, like a ridiculously unpractical chunk of information. Right? Your brain cannot positively respond to that. First of all, it’s not sustainable to only have cabbage for three months, it’s too much of a change, and to start dieting and exercising at the same time is usually foolish. It’s usually a really, really, really bad idea, right? So if I had to say to most people listen, here’s your diet, it’s the cabbage and exercise, most people wouldn’t even start, it’s too big. But let me ask you a question. If I came to her and I said listen here, I will, unfortunately I can’t give you the weight loss quack, but I can give you the weight loss for sure and it won’t take that long, it will take six months to a year, but it’s guaranteed, absolutely guaranteed. Would you be prepared to take a slightly different approach to how you normally would if I can guarantee the success? Most people would say sure, let’s do it. So here’s what I would have you do. In the first month I wouldn’t actually change anything. I wouldn’t ask you to exercise, I wouldn’t ask you to change the bulk of the diet. All I would do is I would ask you to eat breakfast within thirty minutes of waking up and make sure that it’s a protein.

For the rest, go mad. Eat your sugar, eat your carbs, eat everything. Go crazy. Just change your breakfast. First thing in the morning, within thirty minutes of waking up, eat a protein rich diet. Would you be able to do that? Now most people would say yes, that’s fine. Some people would say look, I’m not hungry that early, but if they really had to, that’s an easy change because you can still have your cake and whatever else, right, and there’s no exercise. Boom. So I would say to you right, do that but be strict for thirty days, every single day breakfast. What would happen at the end of a month? Statistically you would have lost weight. If you only change a breakfast, it’s one of the biggest determining factors whether people lose weight or not, it’s a change in breakfast. Okay. Next one I would say to you good news. This month you still get to eat cake. You still get to eat your carbohydrates, you can go mad. Eat what you normally eat, keep up your breakfast. This month all I want you to do is I want you to drink two to three litres of water this month and that’s all you have to do. Does that sound doable? Now most people will say yes, that’s doable. Right? Again, coming back to leverage, what are some of the small things that you can do that’s going to make the biggest difference? Water, next to breakfast, is the single biggest impacting factor. Next month what I would do is I would let you just take out sugar. Keep everything else. Can you see all this is doable right? This is called small chunking. The exact same thing with exercise. You know, I think the biggest mistake people make when it comes to trying to start exercise is they’re trying to start from nothing to doing an hour a day, five, six days a week. It’s unrealistic. You know when I first started running, I’m a big guy right, I’m not a small framed person right, and I wanted to start running, I can’t remember why I wanted to start running, but I just had a hunch that I would enjoy it, but I’d never run before, I was out of shape, I was obese at the time, I was a mess. And I took this advice from Tony Robbins, because so many times I tried to get into the exercise routine and just failed in it. So from Tony Robbins I heard, he said listen, day one run to one lamppost and run back. So I did it. I put on my tekkies and I went for a run and it lasted for thirty seconds. I ran to the first lamppost and it felt ridiculous, I turned around. Next day guess what, I put on my running shoes and I that ran two lampposts and it still felt ridiculous, but guess what, I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t sweaty and wasn’t hard. Next day I put on my training shoes and I ran three lamp posts and I ran back. And after two weeks my brain kept on telling us [inaudible 6:41] for heaven sakes, this isn’t exercise. What are you doing? You know? Because it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t difficult, but that was the point. That was the point, that it was not about it being hard and difficult, it was about creating habits. And I started running and I started and before I knew it a month or two into it I could run five kilometres. And it, you know, not once was there any suffering. So this is small chunking. So one of the mental strategies that people that succeed with willpower and self-discipline challengers is that they small chunk information. They actually go a little bit slower in the beginning and they take smaller bite size chunks and then build habits. My paradigm is this, focus on habits, don’t focus on outcomes. Whenever people approach me and say Neil, I’ve got this big weight loss plan and I’m on this x, y, z diet, okay, I could care less whether the diet is going to work or not. Here’s the question I asked them. I said once this diet’s finished, how do you plan to eat? What do you plan to do when you’re done? Do you know what the answer always is? No I’ll just eat healthy. I’ll say well, what is healthy? What will you eat or not eat? Let’s assume you’ve lost all the weight, what will that look like? You see then most people don’t actually have a clear answer for that. Right? That is actually what the focus is. Not focused on the outcome, focussed on the specific habits that will get you to the outcomes. So one small change at a time is one of the biggest keys, it’s one of the most important keys to succeeding with a long term change. So many people say to me Neil, I’ve got a book inside of me, I want to write a book. You know how you write a book? You start by writing one sentence every single day for thirty days, because your brain can’t tell you I can’t write a sentence. Your brain can tell you I can’t write a page or I can’t write ten pages or I can’t write a book. But your, There’s no ways your brain will be able to convince you that you can’t write one sentence every single day. I wanted to start a training program, you know one of the psychologists that I read a book on that specializes in this, he gets his patients to walk, to stand in one place and to just walk up down right, just pace up and down for a minute a day and next month it’s two minutes. What happens is your brain starts forming new habits and all you need to do is you need to focus on making thirty days of the tiniest little habit you can, then what you do is you increase it a little bit and then next month you increase a little bit. And I promise you, three months into, there’s something very interesting that will happen. Between day sixty and day ninety, right, there’s a phenomenon that happens which is that you stop thinking of this new habit as work. You stop thinking of it as requiring discipline or willpower. What starts happening, it goes from being a push to being a pull, right. So this happens to people when, especially when it comes to exercise, you know, the first two months are tough, it’s hard, it’s a mission right? But if they do tiny little chunks, it’s easy. And then between day sixty and day ninety, all of a sudden they feel like doing it, right. They miss it if they don’t do it. And here’s what they found, is that there’s this beautiful thing that happens where something becomes desirable and pleasurable and guess what? It no longer requires self-discipline. Anything that’s fun and enjoyable doesn’t require self-discipline. So I’m going to leave you on this note. Try something for the next thirty days that’s tiny. And I want you to make it so tiny that you will think repeatedly this is ridiculous. This is too small. I will never achieve my goal going this slow or breaking it down this much.

That’s fine. Let your brain tell you it’s ridiculous, do it anyway for thirty days and then you’ll see how quickly you build momentum. I hope you enjoyed the session today, go and do it and I’ll see you back next month, sorry next week rather, for another bite size bit of information on how to create lasting change. Please remember to comment down below, share this with your friends, I will see you next week.

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