Enhancing Habit Change & Willpower

Rel black suit

Dr. Relly Nadler: Today my co-host Dr. Cathy Greenberg, interviews me as I talk about Habit Change and Willpower.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Relly, who has been my co-host going on nine years now, will present some of the newest research on habit change and using our willpower as many of us are starting the new year with plans of great change and we would love to be able to not only exercise to lose weight, but finish a major project, be a better parent, be a better partner, be a better friend and develop more personal growth goals.

We are really excited today to talk to Relly about our New Year’s resolutions, change and willpower. It’s really sad that in six months 75% of stopped. Today’s show is going to explore how to change habits and be successful with your resolutions.

What is willpower and why it matters for your performance. How does it impact your wisdom, your decision making, your emotional intelligence, your goals and your energy? Relly is going to tell us about the three willpower challenges; why do we struggle so much with our willpower? How do we lose it and what to do when we do? As he likes to say, when you get off track, how do you get back on track. Also some strategies and tools to strengthen your willpower right after today’s show you are going to go out with new willpower and therefore increase your performance, not only this year, but for years to come. So Relly, welcome to the show.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Thanks Cathy. I’m really excited about talking about how to help people with their New Year’s resolutions and around some of the research on habits and willpower.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Well, I’m excited about habit change and willpower because I think that it is something that all of us can do better at and need some direction and some, if you will, structure around. I’m really excited to learn, myself, and pass that along to people around me. Before we do that, I want to make sure that people in our audience know who you are. You are not only my co-host and a dear friend, but you are also a master level certified executive coach, a psychologist, a corporate and leadership team trainer, and of course Dr. Relly Nadler brings his legendary expertise in emotional intelligence to all of his key notes, consulting, coaching, and his development programs which can be customized for your organization.

Dr. Relly Nadler’s top-ranked book, leading with emotional intelligence, provides all of us with 100’s of tools and fantastic strategies to develop star performers across any industry, including your own. You can visit him at www.truenorthleadership.com. You can get lots of free downloads to access your best performance using emotional intelligence including his free iApp, called Leadership Keys. All of us have been using Leadership Keys for some times and he has 100’s of 1,000’s of readers at his blog on Psychology today, Leading with Emotional Intelligence. You can also download a lot of his fantastic material from iTunes. You can join Relly’s free eiCentral membership group and get access to the latest thinking and fantastic topics and research finding from not only Dr. Nadler, but those he works with at eiCentral.

Dr. Relly Nadler: In today’s show we are going to be looking at willpower that falls under self-control, impulse control, depending what you call it. To really make this stick, you really want to have coaching. You can take some of these assessments and you can read the books, and that is all good. You’ll get more, though, productivity and be able to continue that habit change if you are moving on some of this personal growth and leadership development if you have a coach who can hold you accountable and move forward with it.

Dr. Cath Greenberg: I think one of the things that is really going to be helpful today for many of our listeners is connecting the dots on habits and willpower. Let’s start off with who are some of your best influencers in your life? You are a well-known author, you have a lot of great habits, meditation is one of them, you are a parent, you obviously do a lot of training and corporate work. How do you think about those people who have influenced these great habits that you have that have led to your success? And, of course, willpower, how do you get more willpower?

Dr. Relly Nadler: I’ll give you a little bit of background and last week we interviewed Dr. Rudy Tanzi, about his book Super Genes and Super Brains, and it was tied in Cathy, to all of the stuff that we love. It’s really about having behavior change but doing it consistently. So for me, one of the influences was my father who was an avid swimmer and would swim every day. I grew up in New Jersey, and we had a pool outside. Before they had zoning issues, he put a big dome over the pool so that he could swim during the winter. Then there was one of these big heaters that now you see on the sidelines of football fields and stuff. Every morning he would go out there and he would swim. Also, he told me later, because he continued to do it through his life, that it was when he did his best thinking. So from a sense of kind of willpower and habit change, I think that was really important. He was a great influence.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Relly, tell us a little bit about some of the things that you’ve started to develop as habit. I believe meditation is a core part of that practice?

Dr. Relly Nadler: So what has been important for me is this meditation and when you think about habits, and one of the things you said earlier about willpower and there is three components of willpower, then I’ll circle back to meditation. One is, “I will.” So when you think about your New Year’s resolution, what will you do? What won’t you do? And what do you want to do?

When I think about meditation for me, early on, right out of college, what I ended up getting trained in was transcendental meditation. I remember when I first tried it out; you basically do 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon. When I first tried it out, it just seemed to work. I felt refreshed, I felt reenergized, I just felt I was at the top of my game. So it started off as “I will” do this, but it quickly went to I want to do that. So for me, I probably have missed less than 10 days since 1974. When I added up the hours, it’s about 10 days a year that I’m in either an alpha state or a zeta state; I usually do about 40 minutes split between two or three short intervals during the day.

It really has become as a positive habit and I want to do it. I feel my brain is getting a little mushy, then I end up doing it. Whether it’s 10 minutes, 15 minutes in the morning, maybe 10 minutes at lunch, another 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the day.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: When you say you meditate, can you explain what that experience is and what you do?

Dr. Relly Nadler: So when I initially learned transcendental meditation, it’s such a simple technique, and you can learn all the stuff without even going to a program. You close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and then there they gave you a word that had a resonate quality. But you can say a word like “om.” In the Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, who published this a long time ago, you just say the word “one” has a vibration. So you repeat the word but early on when I started doing this, I heard a lecture from Krishnamurti. Someone asked him well what happens when you lose the mantra? He said something that stuck with me. He said, “you know, it just opens the door.” So to me, it’s not a big part of my meditation, I quickly say this word, but you could say the word “one,” one with yourself, one with your higher being, whatever that means to you. Then you go from alpha waves, if you go a little deeper, to beta waves, and that is where I may lose some of my awareness of what going on around me.

I don’t know if 5 minutes went by or 15 minutes, but it’s a deeper place. Alpha waves, typically if I’m aware, I’ll hear conversations and hear what is going on, it just removed. Beta is a little deeper. The Delta is when you are asleep. A lot of people try it out and they think, oh it didn’t work, they thought they went to sleep but they were probably in those two brain waves, Alpha and Beta.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Now, when we talk about changing habits and willpower, and you think about meditation as a habit, how does that meditation as a habit increase or influence your willpower?

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well, here is what I would encourage people to do. First we talked with Dr. Rudy Tanzi and he talked about one of the health style habits is certainly meditation. It’s so easy to do and I love what he said, Cathy, was now the scientific evidence is you have got the carrot and the stick. The scientific evidence is the stick. I talked to an executive today who wanted peak performance, and saying if you are not doing this, you are really kind of missing out on a tool.

So you get in the relaxed state, almost like athletes would do. The last two or three minutes, once my brain is relaxed, that’s when I’ll start thinking about some of the goals; how do I want to be as a parent? How do I want to be as a husband? What is the project that I’m working on that I have to do? It allows me from a kind of sense of visualization, but kind of a goal setting, to really say how do I want to be? What will I do, going back to the “will” and the “won’t” and the “want.” What will I do and how will I be in that setting.

It’s almost like a preview of that.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Well, as we talk about a preview, many of us have new resolutions which is our preview, if you will, to the new year that we would like to have. What are some of your New Year’s resolutions and how can we start to change our habits to help us with these resolutions?

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well, I think I have my work goals down, but for my end they are more around the balancing. I have a couple of projects; one is brewing beer with my son, he’s 22 and of legal age, and its kind of a fun thing. He brought it up so I want to make sure I do that.

Another one is time with my wife. Then we have some trips planned. Then on a daily basis, it’s exercise and tracking your goals. So, one of the things that we talked about as far as the New Year’s resolution; at the end of this week—we are in the second week of January—people who had New Year’s resolutions on 75% of them are keeping them and it’s just one week later. At two weeks it’s only 71%. At the end of six months, 46% of people are keeping the resolutions. It means more than one out of two are no longer doing it. One of the reasons people fail is unrealistic expectations and too many of them. Remember, Cathy, what Dr. Tanzi said about expectations, and expectations lead to stress. So I have this expectation that I am going to exercise five days a week, what if a person exercises only 3 days a week. That expectation gap causes stress. So really, being realistic first of what you can do. Start off small, maybe have a couple of goals.

When we think about some of the key things that people have as resolutions, some of the top ones are self-improvement, weight related resolutions, money related resolutions, relationship resolutions. So you may want to only have one or two to start off with. Otherwise you are going to get overwhelm and then you are going to get upset because your expectations haven’t been met and then you are going to have stress.

One of the key things is, research shows, that you can write down on a piece of paper your journal what you want to do, they call this the proactive attitude, that you are 10 times more likely to complete that. So don’t just talk about whatever these goals are, again minimize them, but write it down so that you can see it. You are going to be 10 times more successful.

For more about this interview, you can listen to the complete recording above.



Leave a Reply