When I made the decision to fast and go raw for a month, I immediately received a mental boost. It was a curious sensation. It felt as if I had already achieved my goal, and somehow I had already received my reward. However, once the fast had begun, and I got through day one and day two, I learned something very important about goal setting and time.
(I suspect that) Most people never factor in time when they make a plan. In my case I experienced the concept of “time” of a 30 day fast in a matter of seconds. Not for one moment did I stop to question how long one day is, when you are not eating, let alone a whole 30 days.
Eating is the one constant in our lives. We may not think about it, when food is abundant around us. If you take away food, as you do when you fast, you quickly realise how big a role food plays in your life. Food comforts you. Food brings you together with family, and with friends. It binds you together, and it sets the scene for nourishing not only body but also mind.
When you strip away that factor, as I did voluntarily, you learn about time. When people around you eat, and you don’t, time pass very slow, especially if you are hungry. By drinking the juice I was able to carry on not taking solid foods, and I was able to keep focused on my goal. The juice nourished my body and my dream of fasting for 30 days.
However, it was TOUGH going, and it was a lot tougher than my mind could have imagined when I was considering doing the fast. I made an important realisation:
When you set a goal for yourself, you get the reward twice. You get the instant reward of imagining the successful completion of your task and achieve your goal. You also get the reward again when you actually achieve the goal, and THAT IS THE DANGER.
Most people are satisfied just to talk about it, and receive the chemical brain boost it gives them imagining the achievement of their goal. For most people they never realise that this is the danger. The mind has cut out all the hard part and jumped straight to the goal line. It has stripped away all the pain, because it is wired to make your life as painless as possible.
Think about it a moment: Have you not made resolutions that you failed to commit to? When you made the resolution, did you not feel a boost? Did it not make you happy to think about stopping smoking or getting up at 5am every morning to go to the gym, but once you started the actual process, the fun quickly disappeared.
I wonder if this is the reason why so many people make promises to themselves, which they never fulfil: because they receive a bodily euphoric high by conceiving the plan/the dream/the goal, but to actually achieve it means you have to live it minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, until it becomes a reality, and once the bodily euphoria wears off, there better be something very compelling to look forward to, to drive you forward in the face of the mundane repetitious run-of-the-mill every day experiences we all go through.
One of the great motivational writers and speakers of the 21st century is Anthony Robbins. He has written bestselling books such as Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within.
I have had the pleasure of attending two of his marathon weekend seminars together with 10,000 other delegates. It is quite an experience to witness so many people being reduced to single-minded power-houses for the briefest of moments.
It is now clear to me that every one of us truly have the seeds of greatness within us, and it is an incredibly intoxicating feeling to be reminded of how great you really have the potential to be. I don’t wish to trivialise Tony Robbins contribution to the self-improvement movement, BUT he is simply tapping into a latent trait we all possess: greatness in our chosen endeavour. He is reminding us of our true potential and he is taking credit for it through the process of association.
I am being unfair to Mr Robbins, because he is doing his best to give us the tools to achieve the greatness. However, I wonder how many of the 10,000 cheering hot-coal walking bombs of inspired energy actually achieved what they decided to over that weekend. I suspect we are talking a fraction of them. I guess that of the 10,000 people in that seminar, only a handful of them did what they planned to do.
Why is that? I go back to my fasting and raw food experience. It was hard work. I had to compromise. I had to dig deep and I had to put up with discomfort, a lot of it, and I had to remind myself constantly that this euphoria I had experienced when I conceived the idea of a 30 day fast, well that was my mind celebrating – appeasing me – giving me a reward and then saying “go back to where you were – we don’t like change, do we – it is hard work to change – it means pain and I don’t like pain“.
And this is where 99.99% fall by the wayside. The sad part is that they don’t really feel they failed either. For them (and I include myself in many of the goals that I set but never achieved) it was enough to set the goal, to imagine the outcome, to receive the chemical boost the body created in response to brain’s imagination, and to enjoy this momentary joy.
The chemical boost of imagining the outcome, to say the outcome out loud is essentially all the motivational speakers are facilitating to create success for themselves. Very few of them actually help people, not for the lack of trying, but because of who we human beings are.
Our energy flow along the path of least resistance, and this path is generally a path which requires only a modicum of effort, just enough to give us the feeling of achievement, but never taken us to the full potential. Again, it is the imagination of the success which gives us the greater thrill than the actual realisation of the success.
I decided to put my body to another test; something I knew would boost my productivity and my energy exponentially. I decided to get up every morning at 04:50am, and immediately go to the gym.
I knew what would happen. My mind would flood my body with “feel good hormones”, and I would feel like a million dollars, just from thinking that ludicrous thought of getting up in the middle of the night to go to the gym. That is the role of my mind: to make me feel good.
I also KNEW that my mind would say NO THANK YOU the very first time I set the alarm clock to 04:50am. And it did. It was so predictable. So when I rolled out of bed for the first time, I gave my thought patterns ZERO attention. I knew it would talk me out of it, if I listened. I was prepared to
combat myself and my mind.
What is the conclusion: be aware that your plans for a better future will create a sensation in your body which in itself can be addicting, and to most people is enough. Be aware that the moment you begin changing yourself, you will meet resistance, and it will be painful. If you know this in advance, you can prepare for it.
I knew day 3 would be painful during my fast, so I prepared for it, and I was ready when it arrived. I knew my mind would say no, when I first woke up at 5am, so I was ready for it. I knew not to read too much into the brain euphoria I received when I made the goal of going to the gym.
And trading? I knew my mind would congratulate me and flood my body with feel-good hormones when I decided to follow my trading plan, and let my winners run and cut my losses short. Of course it would do that.
And I knew it would kick up a sh** storm the first time I wanted to do it in a real trading situation. I was prepared for it.
It seems to me that our mind is not always our friend. It occurs to me that the mind is the coding facility, the place where we install the habitual software, the habits that leads to consistency, which leads to confidence in ourselves, which leads to success, but once it has done the programming, we have to turn it over to the body, and execute. From then onwards, it is now our job to IGNORE our minds and let the body do what we set out to do.
It is a complex balance of body mind dynamics, where we have to almost become an observer of ourselves and our thoughts and action. One moment the mind is your friend, and the next moment it is the enemy, standing in the way of you achieving your goal.
Thank you for reading