You can’t change your life in one area without changing it in others.

Whole industries lie in wait for you; they’re hoping to tell you that you can change your entire life by tweaking one or two things. They’re lying. They’re slapping a new coat of pain on old ideas so they can make lots of money in the process.

Make no mistake, however. This is your life, so you are just as responsible as they are when it comes to buying into marketing hype and false promises.

The Cycle

Every other day I read something like this:

Oh, low carbs really works for me – I just can’t stick to it.”

[INSERT DIET] is great! I’ve done it four times and every time I’ve lost weight!”

If you can’t stick to something, it doesn’t work.

If you have to do a diet four times, it doesn’t work.

You need to be realistic about what it is going to take.

Reality vs. Magic

Imagine a whole continuum of potential solutions. You have “magic” (BS) solution on one side, and realistic solutions on the other.

The magic solution is always framed as easy, instant, foolproof, or some combination of these things.

The realistic solution is boring, unsexy, and it takes time, sustained effort, and it’s not easy because it requires changing ingrained habits. 

Magic Solutions

Real Solutions

Play at being doctor.
Look at actual lifestyle factors and the broader picture.
Look at symptoms
Look at all the underlying causal factors.
Are reactive
Are proactive
Make claims about isolated “treatments” as the one, true solutions.
Prefer a systematic, all-encompassing approach.
Focus on individual, shiny tactics.
Focus on principles.
Focus on “do this, not that”
Focus on the whole person.
Will use lies (and even truths!) to confuse and confound you.
Have no interest in manipulating you.
Are happy to tell you that you’re blameless, just a victim.
Just aren’t interested in blame.
Look at the list above.

Yes, of course the magic solution is always more appealing at first glace. The only problem is that it’s not the realistic one. The real solution takes consistency of application, sustained effort, and it’s not easy to get it right.

The magic solution asks you to swallow a pill so that you can keep everything the same. The real solution is to stop believing everything can stay the same. The entire premise of the magic solution is that you can continue avoiding the real solution just a little longer.

Changing your lifestyle can often meaning changing who you are and who you’ve become. It can at times be intimidating, emotional, and overwhelming to do this. (This is why “real” solutions involve turning to others for help.)

Real change requires a willingness beyond willpower. Real change requires being open to new experiences; it requires an openness to rough patches, to hiccups and trip-ups and more.

Real change requires developing new habits and skills. New thinking habits and new emotional habits on top of the new behavioral habits.

If you want to truly and permanently change your life, you have to be willing to not just make sacrifices; you have to genuinely want to make those changes because you no longer see them as sacrifices.

You start with simple stuff.

Routine wake times, routine sleep times, routine meal times. Unsexy, but realistic. The benefits aren’t noticeable or sexy, but they exist.

Then you build on these. You develop mental and emotional — and yes, even metaphysical — routines as well.

You don’t view routine as a burden or sacrifice, but as a smart proactive step towards your goals.

No, you don’t “need” variation for the sake of variation. You don’t need to make things complicated. You don’t need a solution that’s “more interesting.” You need to stick it out with the simple, sustainable routines I’m talking about right here and right now.

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