Think about that one person in your life who seems to be able to maintain non-wavering resistance against your own bad habits. The two of you go out for dinner and you look to order a dessert – they can say NO with an air of indifference and confidence. They can have a 6am gym session scheduled in and they are there every time EARLY. They embark on a daily meditation practice that is adhered to WITHOUT FAIL. How do they do it?
Well I think this rule may have cracked their code. How often do you commit to something, but a week later you’re letting a few of the ‘banned behaviours’ back in, justifying that “just a little bit won’t hurt”. Well that’s where we may be wrong. When we don’t wholeheartedly commit to a behaviour and we allow some indiscretions it opens the door for the bad behaviour to creep back in. We don’t just fall off the proverbial bandwagon, we drift. Next thing we know, we’re four donuts deep when we gave up carbs a month ago.
So what is the 100% rule then and how can it help you in your endeavours to crowd out bad behaviours? The underlying principle is that 99% is hard and 100% is easy. 100% is easier because it allows no exceptions. Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, summed it up best “99% is a b!tch. 100% is a breeze.”
When you allow a few bad behaviours here and there, its hard to measure and track the level of escalation and its often not until you’re back at the original behaviour (or worse!) that you realise what has happened. Willpower is NOT a muscle. It is a tank with a very real bottom. Ever wonder why Monday morning your willpower seems like its at an all-time high, and by Friday afternoon when you look to use it (after using it all week) it’s no where to be found? As you use willpower it depletes, and there is a very real limit as to how much we each get given. Employing the 100% rule prevents you from needing to dip into the pool of willpower, as there is no question, no exceptions, and no way that you will indulge in that behaviour.
Below are the top 5 steps for adopting this mentality and applying it to removing any bad habit or introducing a good behaviour with ease:
#1 Decide what you want in the 100% box: Placing something in this category is not something to be taken lightly. You can’t just take all your bad habits, throw them in this box and think the rest will be a “breeze”. It takes consideration and the initial commitment to a certain behavioural change before you start applying the 100% rule. If you’re not willing to give up chocolate, then don’t put it in the box.
#2 Make it really specific: “I want to be healthy.” That’s not something that is easy to commit to, as the definition of ‘healthy’ varies wildly between even married couples! Be definitive about the goal you are setting, and break it down into small bite size pieces that are easy to swallow. For example, you may set yourself the challenge to quit all processed sugar. Then when presented the option for a sugary processed treat, you know your immediate answer without having to dip into that store of willpower.
#3 Start Small: There are few people who would decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro without a few practice climbs on smaller mountains and physical training. The same goes with any behavioural change. If you’re wanting to improve your health, don’t commit to eating kale everyday, buying only organic, removing all junk food, quitting alcohol and eating Paleo all at once. Start with one small change that can have a big impact on your health. An example of this is hydration. Upping your water intake (see my other blog on this) to 2L a day is a simple (yet somewhat challenging) and achievable task with considerable consequences on your other behaviours.
#4 Make yourself accountable: While having a professional health coach is a great way to remain accountable, you can turn anyone in your life into your make-shift health coach for this exercise. Tell them your goal, report feedback as you go along, and utilise them as support for any moments of weakness. Setting challenges with a partner or a group can always make the transition easier and more fun, so band together to start integrating healthy habits into your daily routine.
#5 Rinse and Repeat: As you start to get more confident in applying this rule to smaller areas of your life you will be able to integrate it into bigger aspects. When you’ve figured out how to apply the 100% rule in your own unique way, own that process and spread it like wildfire throughout your life!
This method can be applied to any behaviour you’re trying to change. Trying to give up chocolate, quit smoking, start exercising, whatever you think and know you need to be healthier. It’s all or nothing.