Episode 5 | (00:00):
Hey there, Easy Ager. Today, we're talking about why fun-sized actions work and it all has to do with your brain. Yes, your gray matter. Yes, your noggin, that big, beautiful thing that sits on top of your shoulders and your neck. It's all about your brain today. So are you ready to do this? Let's dive in.
Hey there, Easy Ager, today I'm going to be talking about how your brain works and why you may not have hit some of your goals in the past.
So before I get started (before I forget, actually), make sure you go to EasyAgingExpert.com to get your gift. And once you get that gift and you're signed up, you’ll have an opportunity to do a one-on-one call with me. It’s your Retirement Roadmap Call. We're going to have a little chat, we're going to get you focused on one specific area of your life and get you set up for the next 30 days. Does that sound like a deal? Go to EasyAgingExpert.com, and sign up for that today.
So how does the brain work? I think it's really important for us to have this conversation because understanding how or why something works or doesn't work really helps ground us.
It gives us confidence in new ideas and new concepts that we're trying to grasp onto. And it helps us accept these ideas and these concepts much more readily than we may have before.
So understanding the how and the why is important because here's the deal: everybody wants to change, right? I mean, no matter how happy or content you are, no matter what's going on, there’s probably at least one little something that you would like to change or improve.
Maybe it's becoming fitter. Maybe it's writing the great American novel or paying off your debt. Or maybe you want to enjoy your relationships more.
Here's the big question: Why don't we change? Why don't we get fitter? Why don't we write our novel or pay off our debt? Why don't we make our relationships more fulfilling? Because it feels too hard.
It feels too intense. Plus, by midlife, we've probably tried a number of different things before, more than once, and it just didn't work. And sometimes, I mean, this is my experience anyway, sometimes it can feel like I've become a little gun-shy. I'm almost afraid of dreaming anymore because I failed so many times before.
But you know what? There are dreams that are still living deep inside of each of us, just waiting to come out.
So what if it wasn't as hard as we thought it was? What if there was a simpler way, a different way to improve our lives? And what if we just took a lighter approach to change?
Let me admit something from the start. I am not a grit, grind and hustle kind of gal anymore. I mean, granted, I love the idea of it and I love the power that it represents but in my experience, grit, grind and hustle works in some situations but not all of them.
For example, grit, grind and hustle works extremely well in my business. I just roll up my sleeves and dive in. I love the process of creating some extraordinary results for my clients. I relish, I absolutely relish, taking a massive successful action in my professional life. So that's all well and good.
But when I tried the grit, grind and hustle approach in my personal life, it didn't work at all. I mean, it fell flat. It never worked, you know, ever, for as long as I can remember. It's never worked for me, whether it was losing weight, creating new habits, going after some new goals of any kind in my personal life. I seemed to fail quite regularly with this approach.
So I started searching for a new way of doing things. After many years of experimenting with some of the best — and honestly, some of the worst — ways to create permanent change, I realized a gentler approach was the answer for me.
I stopped leaping in with such force. I stopped creating these crazy complex routines that would tire even the strongest and most determined of us. I did a complete 180 and started to think differently. And I did it with this one little question:
What is the smallest action I can take to achieve success?
And then I did it, even though it felt stupid small to me. I took one little step, and then another, and then another and before I knew it, my little bite-sized nuggets of action — my fun-sized actions, as I like to refer to them — these little actions had me creating new habits and routines quite easily.
Over the past few years, these little nuggets have helped me live the peaceful and fulfilling life that I had been craving for oh-so-long. Have you ever had that feeling? You've just been craving it.
You can taste it. You want that peaceful life, and you just don't know how to get it. It's really a frustrating situation sometimes. But I do believe that fun-sized actions are the answer.
I have to admit, changing from a "take-massive-action-grit-grind-and-hustle" mindset to a "baby steps" way of thinking was a foreign concept to me. But once I understood why the grit, grind and hustle wasn't working in this particular area of my life, once I "got it," things started falling into place pretty easily.
Let me ask you a question: Have you ever made a New Year's Resolution that you didn't keep? I'm over here laughing my very polite laugh because I really want to laugh much louder... but that would hurt your ears if I did that. So we're just going to laugh because we've all done it, right?
But let me ask you this: When you made the resolution, did it sound anything like this?
"This year, I'm getting into incredible shape. I'm going to get to the gym six times a week for two hours at a time, and I'm going to totally dominate my body. I'm completely cutting out carbs, and I'm not allowing any sugar into my body. Ever."
This is the way I used to make my New Year's Resolutions. No judgements, okay?
I would make this crazy huge resolution. Then January 1st comes along.
Did I spring into action? Nope.
Did I start off slow and get some momentum going, and then start moving quickly? Nope.
Did I even get off the couch? Nope again. So what did I do?
I did absolutely nothing. Zero, zilch, nada. I did not even wiggle a finger. The next thing you know, I was back to carbs and sugar and couch-potatoing like a champ. It was amazing.
Has this ever happened to you? I mean, if it has, I totally get it. I used to do this all the time, make these crazy resolutions and then not take even one step forward on them. I would set these massive goals, and I'd immediately fall back into old habits.
Sometimes it was kind of weird. Sometimes it was felt like it was a dream or vision or something, like I hadn't even set this goal or resolution at all, and I always wondered why. Now that I know why, it makes so much more sense.
Now that I've built this up, you're wondering why too because you may have done it yourself.
You scared your brain. Yep. You freaked out your brain, and it immediately wanted to guard you from something so big and so new and frightening.
It shut down on you so you didn't even have a chance of making any progress.
That's because your brain's primary job is to protect you. It's constantly watching, ready to warn you, ready to save you from scary things that go bump in the night. Now, this protection was great when we had to be on alert for sabertooth tigers standing behind us, but it's not so great for trying new things.
You have to treat your brain like it's your 97-year-old grandmother. You wouldn't walk in the door and say, "Okay, Grandma, down for 50, and one and two..." and expect her to drop and give you a 50 pushups or sit-ups — would you do that?!
Well, if you would, I'd say one of two things. The first thing I would say is "Shame on you! You should be more respectful to your grandmother."
But the other thing I might say is, "Wow, Grandma's really fit. Go Grandma!"
When your brain hears your big plan to conquer the entire world tomorrow, it goes into protective mode. It starts saying, "Oh no, no, no, no, no. That sounds too hard. It'll take us out of our comfort zone. So no, that's a hard no. No, no, we're not gonna do that. It's not gonna happen. Sorry."
And that's what stops you from taking even one step toward your goal, you know, for world domination or whatever you're going after.
Now, you can do the grit, grind and hustle. You can grit your teeth and push through it and keep going for a week or two, maybe even a month. But it's not any fun. I mean, you're not enjoying the process at all, even though you could be enjoying it with a different approach.
Here's the deal: When it comes to new stuff, trying new stuff, starting new habits, that type of stuff, being gentle is the best way to start. Once you have momentum, you can crank up the heat as much as you want, but keep it cool when you're starting out.
Think about how you would treat Grandma. You would be gentle with her. She's 97 years old, for heaven's sake, of course you'd be gentle with her. You'd make no sudden moves. You wouldn't ask her to step too far out of her comfort zone. And if you did need her to do something new, you'd help her ease into it, right?
It's the same thing with your brain. It's kind of like you're sneaking up on your brain so you don't surprise it too much. As long as you don't do anything too big or too scary, it will let you move forward.
That's why fun-sized actions are your best bet if you've had resistance to midlife changes, if there are certain areas of your life where you just can't seem to get over that hurdle and get going.
Because these are small, tiny little actions that keep your brain calm. They help your brain relax and go with the flow so it's no big deal when you want to make a change.
Now you may be thinking, "Tiny actions, Michelle? That'll never work." But I'm here to tell you, it does work. Small, fun-sized actions can create permanent change in your life, and I'm living proof of that.
When I say small actions, I'm talking crazy small, stupid small, embarrassingly small. Because you want them to be so small that your brain is going to respond very nicely and say something like, "Ah, okay, okay. Well, that's not too big...
That's not too scary. Keeps me in my comfort zone. So, I'm good. I am good with this tiny new action."
Because here's the bottom line: Even the smallest action creates new neural pathways in your brain. So what's a neural pathway? It's like a groove in your brain that gets stronger and stronger with repetition, like brushing your teeth or driving your regular route to work. With repetition, this behavior becomes your new normal, your new habit, your new routine.
I'm going to give you an example in a moment, but I want to be really clear about one thing. I am not telling you to only use fun-sized actions for all your goals. If you're having success with the massive, audacious, going-after-it, grit, grind, and hustle kind of activity and that type of approach, don't stop. Keep using that if it's working. But it's like I said at the beginning of the show, that approach worked for me in my professional life and not my personal life.
That's why I started investigating simpler and easier ways to approach my personal goals. Fun-sized actions are just another way to get over the hurdle of starting. They're great for helping you get momentum or establish a habit.
Here's the bottom line for this: You do you. You do what's right for you and what works best for you, okay?
Now that you know why fun-sized actions work, think about one area you'd like to upgrade in your life and then just ask yourself, "What's the smallest action I can take?" Break it down into crazy small actions, and start with two.
That can be two minutes a day, two pages a week, two phone calls a month, whatever it is that will help you take that first step toward the life you want.
Because here's how it works: once your brain gets comfortable with two... let's say you're doing two pushups a day.
Your brain is going to think, "Well, you know, that was easy. I've already done my two pushups. But hey, you know, I'm already down here. Might as well add a couple of more."
So then you start doing four pushups a day for a while. And then your brain says, "Well, this is getting a little too easy. You know, what if I added three more?" So it says okay, and then you add three more and you're doing seven.
And then at some point, your brain is going to say, "Well, that's silly. Why don't I just round it up to 10? That only makes sense." And then you're doing 10 pushups a day.
You could get up to 25, even 50 pushups a day without even thinking about it, and that's the goal.
Does that make sense? Does that help you understand why you're doing fun-sized actions?
If you ease your brain into it, who knows what kind of habits you can create? Who knows what kind of life you can design?
I want to be really clear because I know some of you out here are thinking, "Hmm, it's just one area." Stick with just one area. Not 17, not 25, not 82. Just one.
There are some of you out there thinking, "Oh, they're small. I'll just do all of them. I'm going to do financial and relational and emotional and mental. And then I'm gonna take care of my personal life and my professional life, and got the big project I've been wanting to work on..."
No, no, no, no! Do not do this. If you start focusing on one area, you're going to get this under your belt. If you do more than one area and you do a bunch of different areas trying to make change all at once, you're just going to scare your brain and you know where you're going to end up, right?
That's what we're trying to avoid. So I encourage you to focus on just one area of your life and remember that these little bite-sized nuggets, these baby steps are going to get you there, I promise.
Next week, we'll be talking about fun-sized actions again, but I'll be giving you two to three specific areas where fun-sized actions can help you as you age. These are actions that will help keep you vibrant and energetic in your mind and your body and your spirit.
That wraps things up for today. Make sure you go to EasyAgingExpert.com to get your free gift. Thank you for listening today. Peace, love and blessings to you and yours. Take care, bye.