Making big positive changes to a well entrenched lifestyle is sometimes tricky, and certainly takes time, often with many, many false starts!
We kick off well, but as time progresses our normal Modus Operandi tends to creep in again and we slowly slip back into old ways.
Sometimes we lose hope that we'll ever be able to change to the extent and in the way we want.
And yet again we regress.
This is why, when helping clients to make sustainable changes to their health and lifestyle, I teach them about my 80/20 rule.
It really is the golden rule to making changes that stick!
The key is to do the desired activity only 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent, let yourself relax, don't beat yourself up over not having 100% stuck to your resolve.
Yep... I said it... 100% is out... 'near enough IS good enough' is totally IN!
I know... this flies in the face of convention, motivational and inspirational speaking, pep talks and all those well meaning, hardcore boot-camp style programs and tips.
And believe me, doing less than perfect, being less than perfect takes practice! This rule is AWESOME for people who have perfectionist tendencies, and have been raised to believe that you have to do better than your best all the time or you're failing. You'll also be the ones who struggle most with this rule!
We are the ones who work too long, too hard, check details too many times, beat ourselves up when we don't do enough, are not enough, have not enough.
I did this! And at times, still do.
I had big issues with it to start with! But as I went along, I realised that I spend so much of my time beating myself up about 'failing' to make the right changes 100% of the time, that I was making things worse and making it WAY harder to stick to the desired change.
My mindset was terrible! My internal dialog went something like this... "you're not doing it right. You're never going to be able to do this. You stuffed it up again. What makes you think you can do this? You might as well quit now. What's the point, you've failed again." etc.
Now, most people are smart enough to realise this kind of inner dialogue is not only counterproductive, but harmful too!
Let's face it, this kind of self talk was probably a big contributor to why it took me so long to make the Lifestyle improvements I was aiming for.
I find that clients who have a long history of high stress, have perfectionist parents or a critical spouse, or have had high levels of childhood trauma have a lot of this kind of dialogue.
So... the 80/20 rule is a trick that you can apply to your brain to get around your negative self-dialogue (and that of a critical parent/spouse).
When you consciously decide to ONLY do your change 80 percent of the time and give yourself a break the other 20%, suddenly your brain starts noticing that you are achieving your goal... the diminishing self talk starts to ease.
You'll also notice it is EASIER to get some traction on those habits you're wanting to break.
If you try the 80/20 rule and you're still not sticking to your plan for lifestyle change, it is likely you have some unconscious, deep, core belief systems that are sabotaging your efforts and on some level part of you is attached to you stay in your old ways.
If this happens, you could try a 50/50, or 70/30 rule until the changes become easy and then work your way up to 80/20 (which eventually creates lasting change). The Caveat... This might work for some people, but in my experience there is not enough of a shift into the new lifestyle to see any real improvements, and the defeatist self talk can kick in again.
80/20 really is the Golden Rule.
If you know you want the change and are really frustrated with not being able to even do 80/20, you might also like to consider working with a practitioner to find the cause of the difficulties you have making change, and pull them out by the roots! It's likely you have a very ingrained energy pattern that needs an external person to see and manoeuvre around so that you can reprogram your mindset.
So... here's an example.
I want to cut out grains from my diet
80% of the week I will not eat food with grains... that means 5 out of 7 days I have grain free meals
80% of each day, I will not eat grains and 20% of the time I allow myself a grain food.
You decide. Part of the beauty of this rule is that you get to decide the best way to apply the 80/20 rule.
I want to change my negative programming and develop a more positive mindset
80% of the time, I change my sentence out loud if I catch myself staying something negative, and I turn it around.
20% of the time I know that I am doing my best, and sometimes it is good to 'get it out of my system' and talk about what is getting me down.
You see?! It's easy if you go easy!
Self punishment must be OUT if we're going to sustain our changes
What are your thoughts on the 80/20 rule? Have you tried to make changes and 'failed'? Do you get help for making changes stick or try to go it alone? Please feel free to comment below or click share and contribute to the conversation on facebook :)