How to Get What You Want, Really. Hack Your Habits

Written by on May 17, 2019 in Inspirational with 0 Comments

By: Celina Pizarro


Have you ever made a decision to have a leaner body, put on some muscle and hit the gym morning? There is a positive change that you want to make but end up hitting snooze rather than waking up and going on a run. Maybe you’ve even started an exercise program just to abandon it a week later?

Making a decision is like you riding a massive elephant. You have the Elephant and the Rider, who is in control?  This analogy comes from a psychologist by the name of Jonathan Haidt; he talks about the frustrating paradox when we decide that we want to achieve something but fall back into our easier and usually lazier habits. In this scenario, our regrettable action of abandoning our gym workout prevents us from achieving our goals. This is why it is interesting and helpful to understand how the mind and body function so we can make the elephant move.

The brain is separated into a couple of regions, we have the rational thought center and the emotional side. So how do we really get what we want? Based on Haidt’s analogy regarding The Elephant and the Rider is an easy way to understand how the rational side of the brain and the emotional side of brain work. So as a rider on a massive elephant, you might want to try to lead the elephant or if he wasn’t moving you might want to drag the elephant. But when push comes to shove, that elephant will always win. We have to understand that the elephant represents our emotional states. A balance of power is required to avoid difficulty in getting a new behavior to stick and make a habit habitual. For the average person to make a change to their routine and make it habitual, it takes 66 days to process it. Our rational brain gets overpowered by the emotional brain when we think about making shifts to our routines and doesn’t want to move or shift-that big elephant.

We should think about the rider as our vision and long term plans. We must be willing for our long term plans to have short term sacrifices, goals, and a clear path for this to make sense to the elephant. The path that the elephant is going to take and the context of which the rider operates needs to be quite simple and clear. The elephant is compassionate, sympathetic, and loyal, he is the one who gets this done. The rider, on the other hand, is rational and the analytical one and when they disagree or gets into juxtaposed with the elephant about which direction to take. This is where we lose focus and get caught in focusing on problems instead of solutions. We need to take control and take the actions necessary to get what we really want whenever this kind of paradox happens.

There are a couple of things that we can do in this situation, but it really comes down to the path with least resistance. If the elephant is just simply moving forward one step at a time, then it is going to be an easy journey. However, if there’s a lot of twists and turns along the way, and obstacles to overcome then it’s going to be a very difficult journey. In our journey the simplest way to get to our goals is to get there is to remove the obstacles and make the distance shorter from one success to the next. Celebrate these small successes and rewards, and milestones, that give yourself a pat in the back for can make a great difference and lead to long term change.

Having direction and knowledge from a coach or proven path of how to get from where you are to where you want to be is number 1. Number 2 is to motivate the elephant – the reward an emotional success. And 3, clearing the path to make it easier to move along.

We have outlined the ways to make an effective change in your routine and your habits so that you can reach your goals. So, if you are planning to get in shape, live a healthy life, change small parts of your routine so that you could maintain what you’ve already established a healthy lifestyle without slip up, if you have a goal you’ve been wanting to achieve, then get a well-informed rider, a motivated elephant and get a real clear path to your goal.

  • It is necessary for the Rider to know the direction and must be equipped with knowledge of the path. The rider can be represented by a professional individual or a coach that can give you a plan with attainable success milestones.  A proven method from a reliable source; an easy plan to get from here to there.
  • As a rational Rider, we might know where we want to go, but we need to motivate the Elephant by tapping into his emotion is crucial to actually getting there. This could represented in a reward-driven motivation for every task that is achieved. An example is having a little reward for reaching a milestone such as going to the salon or beach. Small rewards along the way help shape the path to make it easy to make that progress–easy to go from point A to point B.
  • Make your goals clear and those milestones very specific so they are very easy to notice and achieve along the path.

Follow the above steps to hack your habits and make change happens over the long term.  This is how to sustain a healthy lifestyle or the physique you want or whatever your goal is.  When you have these pieces in place so that the rider becomes the director of the elephant and its a very happy journey along the path for both of them.  If you struggling to maintain a healthy weight; if you feel like you do not have the time, motivation or energy to start living the healthy lifestyle you know you should–I have good news for you. Dr. Celina Pizarro, The Healthy Habits Dr is offering complimentary Healthy Habits Checkups this week for readers of this publication only.  During this 30 min session she will be prescribing the hack for effortless healthy and happy habits for life.

Go here to see if you qualify:

Celina Pizarro is a former Competitive BodyBuilder and Behavioral Health Hospital Director turned Transformation Coach and Motivational Mindset Mentor, Doctorate Honorarium, Author and Speaker. She is on a mission to help women create healthy and happy habits for life. She believes all women can ‘Live Well’ free of Rx. medications. Signup at to receive her newsletter full of health, wellness and fitness tips. Contact her at



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