John Assaraf is a true master at training the mind. He’s not a medical doctor. He’s not a research scientist. He’s a man who has learned from his own experiences (and much study and work) how to maximize the full potential of the brain.
He’s written New York Times best-selling books, been featured in blockbusters like The Secret and runs several million-dollar companies. When I had the chance to interview him on my podcast, I was hanging on every word as he explained how our brains work when it comes to peak performance and overcoming limiting beliefs.
Before he went deep into the neuroscience of what makes us do what we do, I asked him the question I think we all wonder: “How can I get myself to change my habits?”
Our minds are built to run on automatic. Habits free up brain space so we can focus on complex issues or make important decisions. That also means habits are tough to break because the brain is designed to stick to them.
Assaraf’s answer was so simple that I wondered if he wasn’t done answering. Start small, he said. Start with one command and one follow through. In other words, “Reduce it to the ridiculous.”
What he meant was that if I want to change a habit, I have to break down that habit into such a simple action that I know I can do that action easily and immediately.
For example, if I want to develop the habit of doing upper body workouts consistently each week, I need to start with doing two pushups a day.
Here’s how this works.
First, ask yourself these questions about the action you’ve selected to take:
As long as it’s an action that you can answer Yes, right now to, it’s an action that will work for this habit-changing method. In the pushup example, I can always answer Yes, right now to doing two pushups, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
As soon as I prove to myself that I am capable of doing something new, creating a new result, I create new neural patterns. That exact neural pattern, reinforced repeatedly, is what creates a new habit.
As Assaraf points out, “Everything you do or don’t do leaves an imprint on your self-esteem.” Every time I do two pushups, I am reinforcing that I can do what I say I will do. That is the basis of self-esteem.
As the process continues, Assaraf adds, you start to become aware of whether you are qualifying yourself or disqualifying yourself from moving forward. Every time you take your ridiculously simple action, you are qualifying yourself for moving toward a new habit.
Since everything we do starts with our thoughts, this is incredibly important. Whatever we think about ourselves ends up being the reality of how we show up. Thought patterns become emotional patterns, which become behavioral patterns. Our brain goes on automatic with these patterns quickly—66 days, Assaraf says.
Assaraf’s habit-building process is to spend 100 days focused on just one new thing. After following the simple process of taking that one action over and over, he has wired his brain to automatically continue it, as well as build belief in himself and his capability to create new results.
This formula doesn’t fail. It applies to any situation, circumstance or person. It’s as simple as choosing a ridiculously easy action to take right now.
To watch my full interview with John Assaraf (one of my most popular episodes to date), go here.