7 Habits of Highly Effective Paleo People


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You’ve woken up from a sugar coma. You are buried under wrappers, your mind is all blurry. But everything is carrying on around you, same as normal.

Your tongue tastes sweet, feels rough, and your mouth is dry. You lift an arm, then let it drop; you have no energy to move a muscle.

You’re disgusted with yourself. You know your productive day is over. And somehow, you still have to cook the kids some dinner.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Or perhaps you’re cruising, not really stretching yourself. You seek to go outside your comfort zone but just as you go to do so, you hesitate, and pull yourself back in. You’re safe, but sorry at some level, and you know in your heart of hearts that “more” eludes you.

Or you’re arguing and you’re frustrated. Your family aren’t on board and they should be, right? You’re irritated that they can’t see what you’re doing for them, and they’re irritated because they can.

But they don’t want you to.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was, and remains, one of the most successful self-help books of all time. Mostly because the basic principles are rock solid. It has been copied, molded, applied to just about every type of situation there is. And paleo is no different.

Certain habits + paleo = paleo success

I’ve used it as a theme with respect to paleo families, Mark Sisson used the title concept with his 10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter Gatherers in The Primal Connection, and now I’m going to apply it to being successful with paleo. These habits provide structure, organization and a framework within which to approach paleo, something that is necessary if you are to achieve your goals.

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Habit #1: Be proactive with your health

Realize that you, and only you, are responsible for your outcomes. And that your outcomes are the result of the choices you make. Taking responsibility for eating those doughnuts even if they were brought home by someone else is the first step. The next is to start strategizing in order to avoid indulging in the future or even better work to prevent them being brought home in the first place.

Habit #2: Begin with the outcome in mind

Determine what outcome you desire for yourself and work backwards from the outcome to determine the choice you need to make in every situation. As the quote by Heather Morgan M.S., succinctly puts it: “Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” Will your next decision help you towards your goal? If not, are you prepared to accept the consequences?

Habit #3: Prioritize actions based on goals

Order your goals by importance and prioritize, plan and carry out your week’s tasks based on their support of your goals. Routinely assess whether your actions are helping, or hindering, achievement of your goals. Course correct if necessary.

Some goals are more important than others and only you can make those decisions. Some things have to happen – the kids need to get to school, you need to work, you’ll sleep at some point – but the discretionary activities – planning your meals, completing your workouts, getting enough sleep – these are the activities that need prioritizing over other, less important, ones if you are to meet your paleo goals.

Habit #4: Strive for “win-win” situations

Look for solutions that enable all parties to “win,” paleo or not. Find a restaurant that satisfies everyone’s preferences, take a paleo dish to a potluck, or ask that the non-paleo food be put out-of-sight but still available to those who want it.

Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.

Habit #5: Understand others first

Seek to understand another’s point of view before putting yours across. Endeavor to put yourself in their shoes and genuinely listen. In doing so, they are more likely to reciprocate and within the atmosphere of caring that ensues, there is a greater opportunity for creative problem-solving. In counseling training, I was taught to listen for “the message behind the words.” It’s a powerful, and effective, concept. When you hear resistance, ask yourself what is going on for that person – do they feel diminished, frightened, sad, burdened? If so, seek to reassure them, lighten their load, calm their fears.

Habit #6. Work together towards a mutual goal

By combining your efforts with others you get the opportunity to create solutions that are more effective than anything you could have come up with individually. In a caring, supportive relationship, even with different values, such as paleo and non-paleo, you can still build on each others solutions if you keep the lines of communication going. Often the solutions that spring up as a result of two opposing positions are fabulously creative and the process can be relationship enhancing if it is done with mutual respect for each others position and a willingness to be flexible.

Habit #7. Build expertise and go wider

Evaluate, assess, and course-correct as necessary to create a long term lifestyle change. This isn’t a one-time switch. You are likely to need to keep adapting your habits in order to strengthen them over time. You’re also likely to need to keep them fresh to avoid stagnation and a regression to less healthful habits. Understand the pull of inertia and take steps to maintain momentum. Rest as necessary to avoid burnout and injury. Cultivate a pattern of service to your wider tribe to both support the group and strengthen your own skills, position and motivation.

These habits provide a blueprint for life success, not just at work but for any aspect of life or endeavor you pursue. Underpin everything you do with them and enjoy what flows out from them.

What do you think? Are there any other habits that need consideration when you’re building for success? Please tell us in the comments. I really appreciate it when people reply with thoughtful comments. Honestly, it makes my day.

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Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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