I started this new diet plan where I can’t eat carbs after 7pm which is pretty much hell because I’m Persian and we love rice.
Every time I take a bite of my mom’s cooking, I’m teleported back to my childhood days. Full house on Friday nights. Stone-cold pepsi in one hand and a greasy Nintendo 64 controller in the other.
In case you’ve never seen Persian rice, feast your eyeballs on this masterpiece:
Sticking with this new iguana-diet plan has been tough, but what makes me do it are the little improvements I see. Specifically, the signals that tell me that I’m getting closer to my fitness goal.
When I say signals, what I’m referring to are the little things that tell us we are getting better at whatever it is we are trying to do.
The correlation between these signals and how we feel is monumental. It’s what leads us to keep going or give up. To reach our goals or quit. I truly believe that the more of these signals we see the better our lives become.
If you worked out and never saw results, would you keep working out? Or if you changed your diet and didn’t lose weight, would you stick with it?
Sometimes I walk down 23rd street in New York City to the nearby gym and think, “Is this even all worth it? The dietary restrictions. The new lifestyle.”
Then when I see results (signals) after working out, it gives me the momentum to keep going. To push a little harder. To stick with my goals.
The importance of these signals cannot be overstated and today I’m going to show you how you can hack them.
“But I can just never think of anything to say, Payam.”
I get it, but that’s in the past now and frankly I don’t give a shit about your past or what happened.
There’s only one thing guaranteed in life. That is this moment. This second. The now.
Take this moment to let go your past and start fresh.
Hack your improvement process
The secret is that you have to start very small, by getting out of your comfort zone slightly, but not to the point where you may give up. This is key. The best way to explain this is with an example.
Here’s a computer programmer. His name is Nathan.
Nathan’s fear: he struggles with talking to new people
Nathan’s typical day: get up, go to work, sit at the computer, go home, watch tv. Repeat.
Well, if Nathan sucks balls at talking to people, it stands a reason he won’t wake up tomorrow and magically be better. That’s now how it works. This is what leads people to getting frustrated and giving up on themselves because they go for it all with sheer willpower and force. Then it backfires. Now they are back to square one except this time they are completely dejected.
That’s like me having never played golf and trying to go play at the PGA Tour. You’re going to be like, “Payam. You serious? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Back to Nathan. How does he know he’s getting better? He has his own Nathan-signals.
- People hang around him more often
- The conversation flows more smoothly
- It all just comes effortlessly
How Nathan can hack his signals:
Like I said, most people face their fears by going all or nothing in improving them, when really they need to take two steps back to guarantee their results.
They have a weakness they want to improve on, but jump from A to Z without ever taking the smaller steps in between. This leads to anger. Which leads to hopelessness. Which leads to reddit.
It’s only logical that if they aim for a bigger goal, the probability of them hitting that goal is lower. Which means if we do the opposite, we are likelier to succeed even if it takes longer.
In Nathan’s case, he should start smaller to guarantee improvement by not talking to people, but by taking two steps back and working on eye contact.
Here’s a practical example:
Let’s say you just got home after a long day working in front of the computer. If you walk with your head down and never make eye contact with anyone, then try to make eye contact just once with someone this week. Feel the discomfort.
Start micro and slowly build. Everytime you hit a micro goal (eye contact with a stranger) you are adding another signal, which leads to the feeling of improvement. Once you get comfortable with eye contact, then you take one step forward.
Pretty soon that discomfort will become boring. Then you will find it will become easy. You can use this strategy in any area that you find makes you uncomfortable.
Formula to find your micro signals
Micro signals: new goal (talking to new people) – two steps backwards
Micro signals = eye contact
Continuously aim for your micro goals until you are comfortable. Once you are, then move to the next step which for you may be saying hello to a co-worker. Do that until you are comfortable, then start talking to new people.
By the time you actually attempt to face your fear and aim for your real goal, you would have gained many improvement signals in the process. Which leads to a higher self belief and confidence.
More confidence = better chance of improving
See why this works?
Defeat social fear by reframing
Look, you will have some moments when things don’t turn out as planned.
But what you do in these moments can make or break you. Use the art of reframing every negative occurrence into a positive one. The choice to view things negatively or positively is completely up to you.
Real life examples:
Negative occurrence: I waved hi to someone and they didn’t wave back. I suck.
Reframe: Maybe they didn’t see me or they were in a deep thought
Negative occurrence: I was in a group conversation, but felt awkward and didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation.
Reframe: The more I do this, the more I will get better. This is my opportunity to improve. I should seek these out.
Negative occurrence: I said hello to the girl and asked her out, but she rejected me. I’m ugly and not good with women.
Reframe: Not everyone will find me attractive and I’m ok with that. What matters is what I think of myself, not what she does.
You will experience mixed feelings, but you have to remember that as long as you feel there is improvement a setback here and there is OK.
It’s always easier to stay in our comfort zone. It’s easier than trying something new where the future is unpredictable. You want to watch out for falling back into your same old routine.
Keep up with reframing and put a positive spin on everything. EVERYTHING. Basketball legend Michael Jordan puts a positive spin on failure by saying, “On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.
For me, this has helped me completely change my perspective about taking risks. I just don’t care about a lot of trivial things because I realize that one day I won’t be here anymore so why not take a chance on something I believe? It could be a new job, traveling, personal development, etc.
Today is the youngest you will be for the rest of your life, so make sure you try what you have been scared to try TODAY.
If you haven’t yet, check out the the free guide below to get more comfortable with 3 SUPER simple hacks. It’s awesome and it’s not like all the regular bs stuff you read on the internet.
Otherwise please let me know what your biggest takeaway was from this post?