The Balance Code

How to Stay Consistent in a World of Instant Gratification with Michal Stawicki

February 28, 2024 Katie Rössler Season 2 Episode 17
The Balance Code
How to Stay Consistent in a World of Instant Gratification with Michal Stawicki
Show Notes Transcript

Do you often feel like you're on a productivity roller coaster, with bursts of focus followed by dips in motivation?

This episode of the Balance Code Podcast tackles the ever-evolving concept of consistency. We'll delve into the challenges of maintaining good habits and uncover the secrets to staying on track.

Joining me today is Michał Stawicki, a Polish author and business coach known as "Mr. Consistency." He's passionate about transforming lives through the power of daily habits, starting with his own.

Prepare to be equipped with valuable strategies for building and maintaining consistent habits, all within this insightful episode.

What we talked about:

  • Michał's journey to discovering the power of consistency and how it transformed his life.
  • The importance of consistency in achieving success, as highlighted in "The Slight Edge" by Jeff Olson.
  • Challenges in staying consistent in today's instant gratification society.
  • The biological basis of habit formation and the advantages it offers to human beings.
  • Simplifying life by focusing on basics such as sleep, nutrition, hydration, and fitness.
  • Overcoming mental barriers and emotional attachments to new habits.
  • Navigating setbacks and disruptions, such as travel or illness, in maintaining consistency.
  • Cultivating a positive mindset and celebrating progress in habit formation.



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[00:00:00] Welcome to the balance code podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day to day life and learn tools for better balance. My name is Katie Rössler. I'm a licensed therapist and hidden grief and burnout specialist. I help ambitious high achievers who are ready to get off the one way train to burnout and learn better tools to embrace life.

Oh, and by the way, I'm an American living in Germany, who's still learning the language. A mom of three and an entrepreneur. Living my balance code is what helps me keep working in incredible ways without burning out. So let's discover our balance code together.

 Welcome back to the podcast today. We're discussing how to stay consistent in our lives. I know a lot of you struggle with consistency and staying focused on one thing at a time. So today I brought in a specialist to talk to us about, you know, being really [00:01:00] productive, being consistent when we fall off the wagon, when we break the habit, how to get back into that state and that flow of consistency.

And his name is Michał Stawicki. He's coming from Poland, which I'm excited as I shared with him before we hit record. My roots are Polish, so I am excited to speak with him and to just hear his expertise in this, to hear his wisdom flow. So, Michał, thank you so much for being here, for speaking today and teaching us.

Can you share with us a little bit about yourself, where you are in Poland, kind of your background and how you work with people? Hi, Katie. First, thank you for having me and, I live near Warsaw, just 40 kilometers away in a small village. I wrote a few books about consistency and Those are books about different shades of how to implement it in different [00:02:00] areas of life.

In 2012, I read the book, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. And by the way, the message of that book is also about consistency. It is, uh, success is a few simple disciplines repeated over time. So for me, that was a big discovery. I thought success is, you know, winning a lottery or maybe a golden medal at Olympics.

so something huge, random, hard to attribute to yourself. So I haven't even tried to succeed. Then after reading that book, I gave myself permission to try. I developed dozens of daily habits and, uh, relatively quickly get some results. So I, uh, stuck with it and the rest is history. Since then I Uh, change my life, transform it completely.

I quit my day job in 2022. I was IT, database administrator. I wrote 19 books, published, self published them and sold over 80, [00:03:00] 000 copies of them. I coach over a hundred people one on one in developing good habits. I'm a certified habit coach on coach. me. which by the way is a great platform for, habit development.

That's one, because this is how it started as a habit tracker. But if you want some accountability, then. I think it's the best out there. Uh, so, and I'll like, I quit my day job in 2022 because in 2017, after publishing books, I started, uh, advertising them on Amazon and then helping other authors. So I have also a Uh, book advertising agency, helping other authors to, to have more books.

and before I quit my day job in PwC in Poland, we have a great, coaching department, uh, in PwC and I got trained them, got my certification and I'm also coaching, so I juggle a lot of, [00:04:00] balls, when it comes to the professional life. but well, this podcast, this interview is like on a sweet spot of my strengths and also my expertise and what I enjoy.

Yeah. I literally transform my life thanks to consistency. So I'm like evangelist. Thank goodness for the book you read because it seems like it just. Exploded something within you to be able to keep consistent so that you could accomplish so much. So, yes, the foundations of your, the walk you now walk was from another author.

That's amazing. Talk to me about what you're noticing, and I always go back to this in my questions, but in today's world, with our struggle to be consistent, what's happening? What's blocking us?

it's not much of blocking. I have a quote from James Clear. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. [00:05:00] And we fall to the level of our environment, of our society. And today's society is, instant gratification society. we all want it all and yesterday. and that's the environment we are in.

So we fall to the trap unless we consciously counteract that somehow. So, I wrote The Art of Persistence and about two thirds of the book is just the mental game. How to really consider consistency, important enough. so you can, uh. actually turn on your brain and, and do something about that instead of just going with the flow like everybody else, scrolling through social media because it gives you instant dose of dopamine instead of, you know, doing hard things.

And then in a year or 10, you [00:06:00] will accomplish something worthwhile. and it, it's really like, if you look at today's society. Like, I had this advantage that I, lived, under the communist rule. So I know, like, my old, times were A bit older than, Western Europeans or Americans old times. but still, I would say the, era before the internet and after the internet when actually everything started to be instantly available.

But it didn't change the basics of how we operate. that we need this consistent action to actually achieve something. Yeah. It's hard to do your university degree in, one month, close to impossible. Yeah. And, and there are zillions of other examples where just. reality doesn't conform to, this mentality we have.

It doesn't work that way. [00:07:00] And when I was writing the art of persistence, I, I haven't yet read the book, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, which is like very eye opening. and it, demonstrates that, consistency is actually something at biological level for human beings. so when we repeat something, we create a neural path in our brain.

That's well, like all the mammals I would say, and probably other, more primitive, uh, forms of life. because for example, beers and reptiles also have the same, parts of, Brain, we have to, where we store the habits. so that's one thing. We have those neural paths when we repeat something, but what's unique about human beings is that when you repeat something enough times, A substance called Mielin starts encompasses those, neural paths and then your neural impulses are stronger and [00:08:00] faster.

So you are getting even better and better and faster at whatever you repeat. So consistency is, actually like human unfair advantage, in the world. And we totally, totally undervalue that. It's funny because the way you're describing it, it sounds like a hack, but it's actually just how we're wired to be.

We've just screwed it up by being too complicated on the podcast. I like to describe it as the marathon mindset. Like you need to go into things knowing that this is going to take a length of time, but it's worth it every step of the way. And so you really brought to light again, that You know, scientifically, our brains are wired to have the marathon mindset to consistently work on one thing and really get it to a level than what you've experienced.

Once you consistently do one thing, then you have the space to consistently do another thing, right? It's how [00:09:00] you're able to juggle so much is because of the consistency in how you started. When I think about the fact that we complicate our lives so much, I do think about How the world of social media, um, you know, even personal growth and all of the gurus, sometimes they overcomplicate our lives and focus on this and think about that and do this and you can be at all and, you know, manifest these things for your dreams.

And we feel like we're constantly not enough. So we are consistently doing too much. How can we start to simplify in our lives, our tasks, our systems, improving them so that we can be consistent in the things that matter to us?

 That's a very, complicated or rather the simple question, a very complicated answer because, there are so many liars to human life, so many areas. [00:10:00] And actually what I believe is that we need the holistic approach. It's not just good enough to, be very fit and then very damp or focus on your education, but you neglect your relationships and so on and so on.

So, um.  

I would say one thing that really, because people, I'm also active on Quora and I answered hundreds of over thousands of questions, most in the area of personal development and habits. Uh, so I've been asked that a lot. And people are asking those kind of questions with, of course, instant gratification mindset.

Okay, where, where is this quick hack so I can be consistent at this or the other? But what I notice, we neglect basics. We neglect basics like sleep, hydration, nutrition. Fitness. This is like the basics of the basics, and if you screw that, well, what's good of [00:11:00] having this great, uh, up, uh, productivity up on your phone.

If you are sleep deprived or if you are obese and then it's, it's hard to even, go upstairs. So I would say that's the biggest discovery for me from answering those hundreds of questions at basics, basic basics. Like cover those fears, then there is the another layer of relationships are very important and how you Uh, interact with others and how they feed you and your self worth, that's very important.

So, um, I'm following a millionaire, Brian Buffini, and he has six kids and he raised them to say, thank you, uh, please. And so on. and he says that a lot of time people who serve them at restaurants were just commenting. Your kids are so nice, so great, just because they had those basics and we neglect them.

so that's another layer in [00:12:00] each area of life. But the good thing about this complication is. like Chimoran said, success is a few simple disciplines. So in each area of life, you just need a few, uh, disciplines, to excel. And going to my point, we are good at it. You start repeating something, it becomes your, your habit, and then it's your second nature.

Like those kids of Brian, they do not have to think, what do I say when someone serves me? No, it's, it's automatic. So, I would say. The good news here is that, habits like they are even more biological than, consistency. Because as I said, we, we share the same part of brains with very primitive forms of life, reptiles, beards.

they have the same systems and it's contrary to, to, common thinking. It's easy to develop habits. [00:13:00] It's natural. Like, it's easy to breathe or walk like we are wired for that. Yeah. So developing habits is not really, it's not really hard. It's easy, but like Henry Ford said, whether you think you can or you cannot, you're right.

So if we are thinking, Oh, it's hard. Well, then it's hard, but it's not. Yes. I was just thinking that, you know, when we talk about habit forming and then staying consistent with those habits, when we quote fall off the wagon, it's like what we like to say, right? Like, Oh, I'm stopped doing the habit. I fell off the wagon.

Okay, you, you, hopefully you're brushing your teeth, right, every day. And the one day you forget to brush your teeth, you don't go like, that's it, never brush my teeth again, I've screwed up that habit, start from day one. No, you just the next day brush your teeth. Why do we get in this mentality when it comes to newer habits that we want to be [00:14:00] consistent in?

We're like, Oh, I couldn't do it. And then we just stop. Versus like the scenario of saying please or thank you. That one time you forgot to say please doesn't mean you don't then do it the next time. It's just sometimes our brains have a blip. Oh, I forgot to brush my teeth today. I was busy. I was thinking of something else.

I'll do it again tomorrow. Everything's okay. How do we get that mentality around some of the other habits and especially, maybe it's like wanting to write a book or, you know, better health habits or things go like, Oh, it's okay. Tomorrow's a new day to start over.

 A lot of it is what you described is just mental struggle. And we are not good at mental struggles. We are, Very emotional, much more emotional than we heard to admit. Then another piece of news, uh, you can get better on managing your emotions and emotional intelligence can be, increased over your Uh, lifespan.

so it's not like intelligence that [00:15:00] it's pretty fixed. It's hard to, you know, become a genius. it's normal for a human being to become more competent in recognizing their own emotions, managing them, interacting with others. but level one is recognizing your emotions and managing them. You can get good at it.

It's, it's again, natural. Well, it's. How we human beings operate. So, that's one thing. The other thing, what I heard in you, telling story is a lot of resistance. So if you approach developing your habit with internal resistance, you are not exactly doing it right. Of course, it doesn't have to be.

Um, super happy, easy Pollyanna thing and so on, because I have my new habit, but also approaching it with, with the minds, Oh, it's so, Oh, I don't like, Oh, I have to know that's, that's really not helping you a lot. [00:16:00] or rather it's, stopping you a lot. I read that in some of. The easiest hack to lose your right is to replace one word, at least that works in English, instead of I have to, it's I want to.

 And that, that makes a lot of this, um,  Internal attitude, the quality in this attitude that will then translate into and you are also right that falling off the wagon and going back to the habit, that's the default option. That's how it should be. Uh, nothing really happened the same like we, there are some research done on it.

If you develop a habit and you don't do it once or even twice, it's not a big deal. You can go back to it and keep going. but if you make a big deal out of it, then it's a big deal. Then it's a [00:17:00] enormous deal because if you are, developing a new habit of exercising and you've, you've done it for 30 days and then life happened.

And you didn't, and you make a lot of fuss about it, and it's then that's the end of your habit, then it's a big deal. You haven't developed a great habit, which, by the way, is a keystone habit that it leads to developing even more good habits, practically effortlessly, just because you, you made a big deal out of that.

It's not, it's, it's just one single failure. It's not really a failure. It's a feedback. Yeah. Life happens. So how can I prevent, I know from my own experience that traveling is a moment when a lot of habits disappear because you don't have your everyday triggers for, for your habits. So you need to be really focused on, what you want to do and accomplish and [00:18:00] be mindful Not on the autopilot, because otherwise you just don't have the triggers, so you won't do your, routines.

Yes. So two big things that you just spoke to that I want to draw attention to is, one, we have to remove the emotional attachment. To new habits, because the emotions is what makes it almost feel like, like another task on our to do list. Oh, like you said, I have to. And the emotions that we put into it show that we've attached our identity to it as well, right?

Like, Oh man, I, I. A third day in a row and I'm still eating sugar. And I said, no more sugar. A third day in a row. I said, I would read a chapter a day and I'm not doing it. So that just shows I'm a failure. What you've wrapped so much emotions in it, so much of your identity. So what you really said about, you gotta, it's a habit.

It's just a habit, it's just the thing you want to start doing. That's it. [00:19:00] Don't, don't make it so heavy. I mean, I think that piece is really, really important for us to chew on and think about how often we're putting emotions at the forefront of new goals we have. new things we want to accomplish or do.

Well, it's, it's not a bad thing to attach your emotions or identity. It's a bad thing to do it negatively. So you are developing, an exercise habit. Let's stay with that example. It's a great thing to do. Like, why should you even approach it with, any kind of negativity? And then you, you, didn't do it one.

So, okay. Yeah, that's, it's good to have some negative connotation. Well, that's not great. but we are overboard with, with that, like, and which, which is a point of, BJ Fogg, who wrote tiny habits. we are not the same in the other direction. So you've exercised today. Hello. And [00:20:00] then you should like, Clap and be happy and jump because out of joy.

Yeah, you did your habit. So it's the same level of Emotional charge. So either you can be more stoic like I'm pretty stoic and Attitude altitude of emotions is slower in my case, but if you are that person always Oh, if it's the end of the world, then if you do your habit, it's the beginning of the world.

It's the best thing that ever happened. That should be your balance. Celebrate it. Celebrate that progress. And when you don't progress, that doesn't have to be the big negative emotion. Move back to the celebration of the positive. Yes. The second thing you pointed out that I really want to draw attention to is Things like traveling, being sick, they will throw off your consistency.

Expect it. Don't, don't go into it. Like, again, you know, there's the negative emotion versus like. [00:21:00] Yeah, this is normal. Statistically, it's normal that I'm going to break my habit during this time when I'm back home and I see my triggers and I know my things, I'll get back into it. So, it's almost like having belief in yourself, isn't it?

Belief in yourself and your ability to get back into consistency when you're in your normal habitat, since we're talking about animals and, you know, like, just in your normal habitat. You can do it. You mentioned those, like, keystone habits that then help other habits build upon. That takes belief in yourself that you can have those habits, that you can do that thing and be consistent.

So, I know you've worked with people who come with, or come to you and consistently go back to the negative. Instead of looking at the progress and progress is this spiral, right? We always are going to go a little bit backwards before we go forward because that's the integration phase. What encouragement do you give them to help them [00:22:00] keep moving forward in their consistency and in their habits?

And again, it's it's more of a mental game than anything else because actually you need to yeah, it needs to be important for you for this habit to Develop. It's I said, it's easy, but it's also hard. Yeah. So, um, especially with those bigger habits, which whenever we exercise some conscious attention to do anything, it's an effort.

Yeah. So, in order to, do the effort, you need to have some why behind it, your motivation and this is where it should start. That's one thing. Okay. Let's always. Go back to, to my vision. Why do I want to exercise? What's so important about it? Then maybe it, may be your identity, attachment as well. We, we've all heard the stories of Grand Pass, who [00:23:00] stop smoking be because they wanted to be there for the in grandkid.

Mm-Hmm. . Uh, because it didn't happen over, several months. It, it just happened. Why? Because, because they really had attached the identity to that thing. Okay. I'm a grandpa, so I won't be smoking. So I will be here with them. so mental game again. Why is that important? and, celebration is important.

We are very bad at it. Most of us, at least, and then when I help someone to, develop a habit, I Also serve as this, uh, cheerleading squad and remind them and point out whenever they are sleeping into the old mindset and also reminding them facts. That's natural. That's normal. The eyes, the story and the emotional charge in your head that makes it, Bigger than it is.

And also [00:24:00] just something that went through my mind, I would like to, to talk about this, that when you finally develop a habit, it's hardcoded in your brain. Yes. You, you may like put it in the freezer, but it's there. And, like ideal example is my pushups habit. I was 15 when I started doing it for the first time, just one series of pushups to, to failure.

And then it, for like a dozen years, it was on and off and on and off, but I had this habit. So the last time I restarted it, it was 2006. I stepped on a scale and decided, well, I need to do something. Let's go back to that habit. So then I could just lie down and do 40 pushups like that. And that was because I had a habit.

Because if you think of the general population, how many people can do that? Like that. Exactly. [00:25:00] Yeah. So, when you develop a habit and then it's disrupted because you change your environment, you don't have triggers, you travel at for a month. It's pretty, pretty easy to go back to your old habit. Yes, I agree with that in my own life.

Thank goodness for that, right? It's muscle memory, basically. It's just go and do the thing again. Thank you so, so much for your insights today. I love the quotes that you brought in from different, uh, thought leaders. Throughout history to help us really reflect on, okay, what are some things that we need to remove from our habit formation?

How can we start to be more consistent in our lives and reflect on maybe some of the ways that we're blocking ourselves just with the mindset or. not knowing or why not being clear about that or not involving celebration and every little micro step of the way. I really, really appreciate this interview today.

[00:26:00] If somebody wants to connect with you, where can they find you? My blog is expandbeyondyourself. com. but it's pretty easy to find me, Polish guy in English speaking space, so Google me and I'm on the first page. Literally search Polish guy in English speaking space and you're going to find him. Now, I'll make sure all of your links to social media and obviously your book as well, or many books, so making sure that they can get a hold of your books in the show notes below.

Thank you again, Michał, for this. This is amazing information and great support. And I know for you it's like this is common day stuff I talk about all the time. But when we're able to really share our giftings and our, our focus areas with people, it helps them really open up areas of their mind to realize some of the habit formations they can start to do and how they can be more consistent in their life.

So I appreciate this so much. Thank you Katie for having me. That's a privilege. Thanks.

Thank you again for [00:27:00] listening to today's episode. As one of my listeners, I have a special gift for you. Do you ever feel like you're simultaneously doing way too much while also not feeling like you're doing enough? I have a workbook that's going to help you solve that problem and get to the root of what actually needs to be done and what matters to you most based on your values.

Check out my juggling all the things workbook below in the show notes so that you can use this special gift. To simplify your life. We all need that. And if you're interested in working with me, check in the show notes below on information on how to do so. Here's to finding our balance code.