Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Secret Ingredient for Good Health

Could App Technology be the Answer to Successful Goal Achievement?

A friend of mine on LinkedIn recently posted that dream attainment was as simple as following a three step process:
  1. A dream that is written down with a date becomes a goal
  2. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan
  3. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true
Isn't that great! All we have to do is follow that three step formula and our dreams will come true! Right? Too often the answer is not right, but wrong.

For decades the science of personal achievement has focused on goals. Set your goal! Affirm it! Visualize it! Then get to work and your dream will come true!

Could goal fulfillment be as simple as this? Well, in my experience, Scrooge put it best: "Bah, Humbug!"

Goals are great. Dreams are fantastic. But frequently we miss our target, and sleep through our dream. Why is this? Is our plan wrong? Are we not taking enough action? Is it just bad luck?

The answer frequently is all of the above, or none of the above. The reason we miss our goal and lose out on our dreams is because we are focusing exclusively on the wrong things: actions and plans. The missing and critical ingredient has been left out.

Image you are baking a wonderful loaf of sourdough bread. You have your flour, the whole grains, the nuts, and the spices. Put it in a pan and what happens? Nothing, unless you also add some yeast starter. That yeast is the critical ingredient that makes the sourdough bread materialize. Without it, you can have a great goal, with a deadline and a plan. You've taken action. But your dream didn't materialize. Was it because you didn't visualize your dream strongly enough? Of course not. You just needed one more ingredient, the yeast.

Goal and dream achievement can also be thought of as just like starting a fire. You can have your goal -- a fire! -- and a deadline -- now! -- and then make up a plan with action. But if your plan doesn't include some sort of ignition system, you won't achieve your dream of a warm fire. You need to have that critical ingredient of a spark to ignite the tinder to get the fire going.

So what do we need in order to achieve our dreams and our goals? What is our critical ingredient?

Some people take the mystical approach, stating that the magic ingredient is all in your mind, that if you only visualize strongly enough, you will achieve your goals. Well, visualizing good things is fantastic. Picturing a bright future inspires us to action, and strengthens our mood. By positively visualizing our future, we will tend to move in that direction. Yet this is not enough.

Likewise, the Spartan approach is to focus on actions. That if only we work long enough, or practice long enough, we will achieve our dream. This approach, also known as the 10,000 hour principle, is also fantastic. Hard work is absolutely necessary to achieve many if not the vast majority of our most desired goals, our biggest dreams. Practice doesn't always make perfect, but it does make us better.

So we have a dream, we have a goal with a deadline and a plan. We are taking tons of action. Then why don't we achieve all of our goals when we do this? Frequently, the answer is as simple as our boring, routine, even mundane habits.

Our habits are what drives our actions in a consistent direction.

Our habits are the strongest manifestation of our visualizations.

Our habits create our greatest successes, and our biggest failures in life.

So are you ready to work on your habits? Do you want to get the positive results from a strong, good habit? Of course you do! Everybody does!

Yet this critical ingredient -- the power of a good habit -- can be tremendously difficult to achieve. We need a tool, a personal achievement app, that will help us create good habits, and break bad ones. We need a specific, precise tool that will work virtually every time. Not a hammer when we want to tighten a bolt, or a wood saw when we really need a metal saw. We need the right tool for the job.

And that tool is.... an app!

The app can be as simple as Benjamin Franklin's character checklist, which he used centuries ago to help him develop positive virtues. Or, the app can be a simple download that you install on your smart phone. I've written checklists for habit development, but have found that smart phone apps work much better, by leaps and bounds. Habit app technology is truly a breakthrough in health and medicine.

Do you want to live longer? Then develop the habit of walking. There's no guarantees, but walking regularly will greatly increase your chances of a long, healthy life.

Want to keep your mind strong well into your 70's, 80's, 90's and beyond? Again, our DNA plays a major role in this, as does random chance, but if we develop the dual habits of physical exercise and mental exercise then we are much more likely to achieve this goal.

The habit app I've been using lately is Strides. There's a free version available that works great for me, and accomplishes everything I need from the technology. It reminds me of what I need to do, and shows a nice, soothing green image when I do the activity I'm working on turning into a habit. If I don't do that activity, then it shows me an unpleasant red image.

How simple is that? Green for good -- keep going! -- and red to tell us to stop.

Habits are the critical ingredient, so why not give it a try? Get an app for your smart phone. There are plenty of good ones out there, however, you can't go wrong by starting with the Strides app. Get started with a simple, but powerful activity that you'd like to turn into a habit. Perhaps you want to drink more water every day, or go jogging regularly a few times a week. Maybe you want to smile more and think more positively. Making simple actions habitual can revolutionize your life.

Make creating new habits your new habit. It works!