How to Program your Brain Using Habits, not Goals: Kim Flynn


In this episode of Habits for Humans with Kim Flynn, we discuss why goals don’t matter. Unless you plan on dying in 12 weeks, going on a 12-week diet won’t do you any good. Instead, focus on habits that will last a lifetime.

Welcome to Habits for Humans, the show that explores how to program your brain to maximize your potential. The goal of this podcast is to teach you how to instill systems and habits to live a healthy, sustainable, deeply satisfying way of life.

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Kim Flynn is a best-selling author, podcaster, and serial entrepreneur who has built multiple businesses to 7 and 8 figures. She is the CEO of Card Salad, a health and wellness company that provides organizational products to live a healthy, sustainable, deeply satisfying way of life. Kim is a frequent guest expert in systems and habits on podcasts, television and radio shows.

Do you have expertise and a unique solution to a specific health and wellness problem? If you would like to be a guest on the show, apply here:


Hi, and welcome to habits for humans. The podcast that explores what makes people tick and how to program this brain of ours. And it is programmable. We’re going to explore why we can sometimes, and in some areas of our life achieve extraordinary accomplishments. And at other times we’re addicted to Cheetos and watching real Housewives. If we want to be healthy and happy, what is the secret to programming our brain to maximize our potential? I’m your host, Kim Flint. And today we’re going to discuss and talk about how to program yourself using what I call SNL habits. No, it’s not. Saturday night live. It’s obviously an acronym. And once you learn it, I hope you’ll. You’ll never forget it, but these SNL habits are going to be the secret for you in what it takes to program your brain so that you don’t have to use force. You don’t have to use discipline. You don’t have to will yourself to eat right. Or exercise or take care of your mental wellness or keep your house clean. All of those things in our lives, all those habits that we want to do, we want to program our brains to do that for us so that you reflexively automatically do those things.

Don’t get me started. I’m going to go all into this right now, but I want to also share with you a catastrophic failure that I’ve had in my life. And how I learned from this catastrophic failure how to get back on the horse and do it differently on round two of my life. And actually care about my health and wellness. So we’re going to talk about that as well. We do have a giveaway for our listeners at the end. And so if you like free stuff, stay tuned to the end of this podcast and you can get some free stuff. And first of all, a word from our sponsor habits for humans is brought to you by card salad, a company that I might know a thing or. Or 12 about. It’s a health and wellness company that teaches you how to program your brain. Using systems in habits. Their flagship product is eat well. A meal planning system that trains you in eating habits to last a lifetime. And after going through this program, you will never need to diet again, visit card

Let’s jump into things. Then let’s jump right in. I’m excited to introduce our guest today. And it’s actually me. I am the guest today. So this podcast has all guests. And these first two or three podcasts, it’s just me. Cause I wanted to share with you the foundation of what I believe about habits and what I’ve learned about habits. And when I kind of share that. Excuse me, that kind of the bedrock foundation with you before we get into interviewing all of these guests. So let me introduce myself as if I were a guest, as awkward as that is. Let me just introduce myself with my like standard, typical bio a little bit. Unconventional and maybe a little bit embarrassing, but here we go. Kim Flynn that’s me is a best selling author, podcaster and serial entrepreneur with several seven and eight figure businesses under her belt. Not all of them. I have been successful. However, and I’m sure I’ll get into that. She’s currently the CEO of card salad, a health and wellness company that provides organizational products to live a healthy, sustainable, deeply satisfying way of life. I’ve been, I’ve been featured on. Kim has been featured on national television and radio shows. She’s a recipient of two Stevie awards, a woman entrepreneur of the year and workplace of the year. Her company made the fortune 5,000 list in 2018 in the top 50 list of the fastest growing companies in her home state of Utah in 2019. Kim is an expert in systems and process building and loves to interview. Guests about maximizing human potential on the podcast habits for humans.

So that’s my traditional bio. Let me tell you really about me. I am like crazy. I don’t know what happened to my me or my brain, but I love organization and systems. My brain just thinks in those terms. And so my, my real bio is sure. Built a bunch of companies. I love business. It’s come kind of naturally to me. And I’ve always been like, go, go, go drive, drive drive. And my largest company was named Eve simplified. We had to close our doors in 2020. It was an event based company. And we were running, I don’t know, three events a week, every single week. We had three locations across the country. We had event centers. In Houston and Phoenix and salt lake city, and all revenue came to a screeching halt. And when you have a $10 million company with no revenue for five months, things tend to not go well. And so we had to close our doors and I talk about it as if it’s like, oh yeah, we have to close our doors. No. It was like devastating. The hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life, it was grief. It was six weeks. I couldn’t get off the couch. Like when we close our doors, it was such a big deal. It felt like a death.

I have experienced deaths before and this felt akin to a death. Like it was a blow. Right. And in those six weeks when I was just sitting on the couch, so depressed and first of all I’m usually not a depressed person anxiety and I really good friends. Depression and I brand new acquaintances. So I met depression. And we made good friends in 2020. Didn’t necessarily like her, but we, we made, made friendships with each other and this is what it was like. So I’m going to sound like the world’s snotty as person and in just a second. I was sitting there on the couch. We couldn’t afford the nanny. Couldn’t afford the housekeeper anymore. Like, right. Like our, my financial life was destroyed in a, in a day. And I started looking around my house, depressed on the couch. We didn’t cook. I’ve got four kids. My dear husband, like we were used to. Having a certain lifestyle, having people take care of our lives for us. Right. And I realized how disconnected I was from my kids, from my husband, from my body, from my food, from my environment. I literally had not done dishes and I’m not exaggerating in about five years. I had not done dishes in five years. And you think, oh, wouldn’t that be ideal? No, it’s not ideal. You’re so disconnected from your life. Right? And so I was sitting on the couch in my depressed funk after like the catastrophic fail of my life. And looking around my house and realized, oh my goodness, I don’t cook. I’ve never cooked in my life. Like, how do I even. Take care of myself. How do I cook? And then I was like, oh, the house is an absolute mess. We need some kind of a system in place here.

And what’s the ultimate irony is my previous company was a business systems training company. Our company taught business owners how to develop systems and operations to run their company. And so I took those same business systems that we used to train business owners and applied them to our household. And so I started to cook and I was like, okay. First of all, I hate cooking. I don’t know how to cook. I don’t know what to cook. How do I even create a system? So what I did is I ended up building an acrylic board with cards and I actually have it for you right here to show you. So this is our what’s called our eat well system has turned into a business, but this is what I created. So here are the recipe cards and you put them on your refrigerator on this meal planning board, and then you have like shopping lists done for you. And then you have all. All these habits of how to instill these habits into your life, everything on a system. So there’s two pieces that you need. You need a system. And then you need habits to support the system and you’d really do have to have both of those. So the system is how do I do it?

And the habit is the programming to do it. And again, you need both of them. If someone gives you like a workout system and says, here’s the system, now go do it. There’s a very small chance of you actually doing it longterm because a habit hasn’t been built around it. Right. And the same thing with habits. Without systems, if you’re like, okay. I have a habit. Of, of eating, right. But there’s no system behind it. Eating right. Might look pretty loosey goosey if that makes sense. So a system and a habit are kind of the two ingredients that you need. And so I looked around my house and I was like, oh man, I need to create a system for myself. And then I need to slowly insert habits to support the system. And we’ll talk about that in just a little bit. So I created. The eat well system, which I didn’t have a name for it, then I was like, this is our menu board kiddos. You know, and then I had a house cleaning system. We still use my beta version of our house cleaning system. I’ll I’ll bring it down. Downstairs and show you guys one of these days, and it’s just a bunch of cards. Everything is tactile with with this new system, right.

And so I created this product and rolled it out into my life. And I realized, oh my goodness, Eureka, there is nothing like this on the marketplace. Oh, my goodness. What if this is my next business? And so card salad was born. And so I have read every book on the topic of habits and I’ve also trained in systems for the past 20 years in my career. I love habits and systems. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it like, that’s what lights me up. I know it’s strange. So. I want to get into what I call SNL habits. And I want to train you. And what it takes from trying to instill a habit that doesn’t stick. And what it takes to instill a habit that does stick and it has to do with the SNL habits. So here is here’s the little acronym here. The three golden rules of habits there S it must go slow and everything in our culture and everything in my brain says, no, we can’t go slow, slow. Isn’t effective, slow. Isn’t efficient. Like if you can go slow, you might as well go fast. Right? And.

And I know it sounds, it’s so counterintuitive, but our brains are hardwired to build habits slowly. So the first one is slow. We’ll go into that. In a more in depth in just a minute. The second one is the end for SNL. And that is, it can have no force, no force, no force, no discipline, no willpower. None of that. Like all I have to do, like if it has that energy, no, it will not pass the SNL test. It has to have, first of all, slow and no force required. No force. If you are a high achiever, a type, a personality. Go get them tiger kind of person. This is going to fly in the face of everything you think you know about why you were successful. You’re going to think. Oh no. Like the reason I’m successful is I have this incredible willpower. I forced myself to do things and that is sustainable for a small amount of time. It is not sustainable over the course of your lifetime. You’re a human being. And that is simply not sustainable. And if you had told me that. In 2019. Or even early 20, 20 before COVID fully hit in March in my area. I would have said we can just keep pushing. We can keep pushing. We can keep growing everything in my career was push, push, grow, grow force force, discipline, discipline, and Not exaggerating my business partner. Has PTSD from the, from the pace that I was trying to push the team to move on. If you haven’t hit the wall, maybe you have a few more years ahead of you, but you will hit the wall if force discipline. And just like gut wrenching willpower is what you’re using to be successful, whether it’s to run your household, whether it’s to run your career, whether it’s to run your how you treat your body. If you’re using that force discipline. Must move at an excruciating pace. It is not sustainable for life.

And so that is number three in the SNL. The L is, it must be sustainable for a lifetime. So again, from the top SNL habits must. Be built slowly. There’s no The slow cut is the shortcut. You really want to move slowly. And we’ll talk more about that. The second one again is no force. No force, no discipline, no willpower needed. And the third one is it must be sustainable for a lifetime. There’s your L for your lifetime. So, let me give you some examples of this. Probably about maybe 15 years ago. I decided I wanted to get into really good shape. So I’m 45 now. So I was probably 30. I was, it was probably less than that. It’s probably in my early thirties, I decided I was going to get in really, really good shape. And so there was a program back in the day, and this is going to date me as well. It’s called body for life. It’s, there’s still the book still available. And it’s essentially a weight training program with a high intensity interval training program with a meal, a meal planning program. And essentially this is what it was. It was. Every day for six days, you’ll work out. You’ll rotate between weights and running. When you run, it’ll only be for 20 minutes, but you will run your guts out. You will try to reach a level 10 in like how far you can go every single time you run. And you’ll hit that level 10 through high intensity interval training. Four times. So you are like running your guts out. The same thing. When you lift weights, you are lifting to your maximum every single time you lift weights. And then the food, the meal planning prep, or the program was you eat a carbon of protein every four hours. No sauces, no, like. Good stuff.

It was, I remember what I used to eat. I would eat a piece of piece of wheat bread, which I hated wheat bread at the time, a piece of wheat bread. And then I, this is so embarrassing to admit I would go to the freezer and I would get like lean ground beef. I would microwave it because that’s delicious, right. Microwave, a hamburger Patty. And put it on the wheat bread and that was my like go-to meal. And think about this, is that sustainable for a lifetime? This was six days out of the seven. And I remember thinking, oh, good. I get to eat real food one day per week. One day per week, the rest of the time, it was like chalky powdery protein shakes. And aforementioned delicious microwaved, lean beef with nothing in it. No salt. And every once in a while you guys, I cheated. I cheated and put some ketchup on it. I know I’m such a bad, bad human being right. And, and this is what I did. And of course, it’s, it’s called body for life. No, no. It’s body for 12 weeks. That is the, that’s the most amount of time you can sustain that amount of human torture. So what happens when we just force ourself to change the body for life? Is. Not slow. You immediately jumped into six days a week. Boom. You’re gonna exercise every single day and you’re gonna eat this crazy intense meal plan right from the get go. So it’s not, it’s not slow. The next thing is no force. Come on. Running your guts out to a level 10. That is the definition of force. That is the definition of needing discipline and willpower. Right?

And then the third one is, is that sustainable for a lifetime? Do I really want to be eating a piece of dry wheat bread? With a microwaved piece of lean ground beef on it. Does that sound like that is what we are meant to do as humans. Like, does that sound enjoyable and sustainable and like treating yourself like you are a wonderful human being? No, that sounds like torture. It, it fails all three of the tests. It is not slow. It’s not sustainable for a lifetime and it requires force and discipline. So of course what happens, what happened when I went on that diet is you guys. I looked incredible. Oh my goodness. I looked so good. I looked good, but I felt like shit. Can I say that? I did not feel like I was taking good care of my body. I felt like I was forcing and disciplining. And nothing changed internally for me, the reason we go on these drastic diets and these drastic regimens is because we’re trying to heal something right here. Right? I was trying to heal this and I was trying to force and discipline myself into healing this, and I remember feeling so let down. After I finished this 12 week program, I think I lost like 20 pounds and I actually had muscles in my body, which I’d never had before. And I was like, wow, I look good. And I don’t feel good. I don’t feel good at all.

And I was so disappointed because I thought, oh, I’m still just me. I still have all my self doubt and all my insecurity and all of my. I don’t know. I was, I was thinking that this would magically change me. I was thinking that feeling good or looking in the mirror and seeing that I looked good would change how I felt about me and my life. And it was such a let down that, that didn’t do anything that I still had the same. Feelings of, you know, negative and self doubt and like, oh that I had before. And so I ended that diet program as most diet programs and with saying, yeah, I can’t do this for the rest of my life. And nor do I want to do this for the rest of my life. And then I bounced between all these different diets and all these different, and if you’re a woman or a man in the U S and you aren’t naturally a size zero, which some people are and bless you if you are, but if you’re not a natural size zero, like I was not, and have never been, I went on a series of diet after diet, after diet, after diet. And finally found intuitive eating the book, intuitive, eating. And did that for awhile, fell off that horse went on 17 other diets, and then finally just realized enough is enough. Like the diets themselves are failing me. And let’s talk about diets for just a second. The reason diets fail you is because when you apply anti SNL habits into your life, so things that are fast that say change immediately that say you have to use force and discipline. And that, and that are not sustainable for, for a lifetime.

Whether you, whether it’s a diet, you’re trying to apply an exercise program. I’m going to keep my house clean. I’m going to do all my homework. I’m going to get through school. I’m gonna apply myself in my business, whatever habits we’re trying to instill when we don’t follow the SNL principles, what happens is our body and our brain actually rebel against us. It’s kind of like a really mean parent saying. You can’t go out past, you know, 6:00 PM on a school night and you can only watch TV once a once a week for an hour. And it’s just so regimented that you will rebel against that parent. There’s no way around it. You’re there break your spirit or you rebel because that is not what we’re programmed as humans to be or do. And so when we do that to ourselves, when we are that very mean drill Sergeant strict parent, No sugar, no carbs, no fat exercise every day. Run your guts out. When we are that drill Sergeant to ourselves, we will also rebel against ourselves. And so rebellion was part of the game, unless you move slowly. With no force. And, and do things that are sustainable for a lifetime.

So let’s talk about. What this would look like if we didn’t do body for life or what’s the latest craze, the hard one 50 or the hard 75 or whatever it is, there’s always different versions of these coming out. And they’re always like, run your guts out and you can like magically transform your life in six weeks and guess what you actually can, but it’s not sustainable. And you’ll feel even worse about yourself after you fall off the horse. So instead of that plan, What if we applied the SNL habits instead. So the first SNL habit is slow. What if you wanted to start a workout regimen and you said, okay, I am going to get on the treadmill every day. And I’m going to walk for 30 seconds. Only 30 seconds. How’s that first low, if that’s too much, what if we said on Mondays, I am going to walk on the treadmill for 30 seconds. I’m telling you guys, it sounds ludicrous. It sounds like. Yeah, but you’ll never, you know, you’ll never get to your goals, right? This actually is like the secret to getting to your goals. So it’s the secret to getting to your goals, because then I want you to understand this really clearly. It isn’t about the goals. Repeat that 20 times to yourself. It isn’t about the goals. It is the habits. It’s the habits. It’s about the habits. So you don’t ask yourself. How much do I want to weigh? That’s a goal or what size shoe do I shoot? Do I want to wear it? That was, if you can change that. What size, what size pants do I want to wear? Or how much do I want to be able to lift or how clean do I want in the house? Those are all goals. Those are all end destinations, unless you’re planning on dying at the end of those six weeks or the end of that 12 week period, and actually will say, okay, I’m going to get to that goal. And then I will die. Then you have my permission to set goals, but we, we do not do, that’s not how we live our lives. We live our lives, just repetition and pattern.

And we have, you know, 30 40, 50, 60, 80, more years on this planet. There’s no goals. So as quickly as possible, I want you to get rid of. Body goals. House goals I don’t know any kind of goals. Just goals in general. And we’ll talk about business as we go on to even in business. It’s very helpful to get rid of goals and focus on habits. So what would habits. Look like, so there’s a story that I can’t remember them. I should’ve looked up the guy’s name before I said this, but there’s a story of a Olympic coach and he was a biathlon coach. And so baffle line is where they ski down the mountain and then they stop and they get their guns from their back and then they shoot a target and then they ski, I don’t know why this is still a sport in. You know, in this day and age, but it’s still as an Olympic sport. It’s the biathlon. And the U S coach a couple of years ago was noticing that his athletes could not keep up. And what’s interesting is frequently in US-based programs. We tend to focus on goals, get the basket, get the home, run, get the goal. And he realized, oh, Different cultures and different countries are able to do better than we are able to do because they don’t focus on goals. They focus on the process. Another word for process is habits. They focus on the habits. And so instead of like, okay, hit the target, hit the target, hit the target and go fast. Those are all goals, right? He was like, okay, athletes, ignore hitting the target. Ignore going fast.

This is what you’re going to do. I want you to focus on just planting your feet. As soon as you come to a stop, I want you to plant. Plant your feet, and we’re going to practice planting your feet, planting your feet, planting your feet. We’re gonna practice a habit. We’re not going to focus on shooting and hitting the target. We’re just going to focus on planting your feet. Once you’ve mastered that, then we’re going to move on to holding the barrel of the gun against your shoulder. And I don’t know anything about shooting clearly, if this is my like, version of shooting, but hold it against your shoulder and lock it in. Like that’s the next habit. And we’re going to focus and drill on that habit. And so he slowly had his athletes build these habit. Habits. And when the habits are there, the goal comes naturally. The goal comes natural. You’re able to hit the target. If you have health and wellness habits in your life, you will naturally be the perfect body size for you. Maybe that’s a size zero. Maybe that’s a size six. Maybe that’s a size 10, but you will be your perfect body size for you. It’s not about adjusting the goal. It’s not about, I want to lose 10 pounds. It’s about what lifestyle do I want to live? And if you want to live a lifestyle, That gets you to certain goals. We just rewind and say, what would that lifestyle look like? What would those habits look like? And it all starts from there.

So let go of goals, focus on habits. So let me do just a quick review of what this would look like. If you wanted to say, I am going to clean out my closet and I’m going to always have a very clean closet and I will always put my clothes away every single time. That’s that’s a goal, right. And it’s too aggressive. Is it slow? No. Is it sustainable for a lifetime? Not in the beginning, maybe later. And does it require force or discipline? Yeah, it fails that one as well. So instead you had set the habit of every time I walk into my closet, I will put three things away. That’s actually what I, what habit I have instilled in my closet. And so every time I walk in, I put three items of clothing away, or I put three shoes away. And my closet is never a hundred percent clean, but it’s always about 90% clean. It looks great. And I don’t have to think about it. I never have to clean my closet. I have one of those open closets. It’s just a giant, you know, shelves everywhere from floor to ceiling. And all my clothes are like stacked or whatever. And there’s tons of shoes there as well. And whenever I have a friend that comes in my closet without fail, they will say, oh my goodness, how do you keep this so neat and clean? And it’s just because of that habit. It’s three things.

Every time I walk into that closet, now, if that’s too hard, if that’s not slow enough, or if it requires force and discipline, you would go slower. You would say, okay, one item. I’m just going to go into the closet and do one item. Let’s do another example. I’m going to cook every single night. And that’s how actually the eat well program came to be. I realized I couldn’t just set up a system. I couldn’t just have this beautiful board and the, and the, and the cards and say, okay, I’m going to Mount this on my, on my refrigerator. And then every single day, you know, if it says Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m going to cook this, this recipe, that’s a system, but there’s no habits built around it. So I actually built a series of cards that walk you through habits. So the habit cards are like they, they have some trading on, if you can see that, but nothing is off limits and then it has you do some like questions for yourself and then you mark up. Yes, I did that. Yes, I did that. Yes, I did that. And so you build habits slowly, slowly, slowly. And so it’s the equivalent of I’m doing okay today. I’m just going to put away one thing. Every time I walk into the closet, one of the first habits that we started with eat well, or in my own family, trying to get ourselves to cook. If you go from, you know, freezer, pizzas and fast food, all the way to. My family cooks every single night, real healthy foods. My teenagers all know how to cook. Crazy right. If you knew I family, you would know how crazy that is. So we went from freezer pizzas to every single night. We cook a healthy meal with a dinner and aside, and we do desserts once a week. Crazy. Huh?

But the secret was the first habit we had to do is we had to put our food on the counter, like our meal ingredients. So we put the paprika out and the onions and the salt, and we put it in a pretty basket. And so that way, when I come home from work, all the food, is there ready and waiting for me, like one step is already done. Hope that makes sense to you. So that’s the first critical ingredient in setting up habits is it must be slow. And then the second of course is it does not. Require force. If it’s too hard to require yourself to put all the dinner ingredients out on the counter, if it’s too much of a pain to like hunt down all those ingredients, what you do even smaller than that is, you’d say I’m going to put down one ingredient. I’m going to, I’m going to get one ingredient out for dinner, and I’m going to set that out. Before I leave for work. And so that’s just an idea of what you can do to start instilling these habits. Anyway, I could go on forever. We have two more trainings. So we talked to today about habits a lot. We didn’t talk about what to do when habits fail. Because all of us have had the experience of trying to instill a new habit. It doesn’t stick. How do we then do it without forcing ourselves? I want to cover that on our next podcast. Coming up here in just a little bit. So the, as, as a wrap up on today’s podcast, remember the SNL principle, slow, no force or discipline, and it must be sustainable for a lifetime. So L is the lifetime. You will naturally move further and faster.

If you start more slowly. So if I start with you know, just putting out my ingredients for dinner, pretty soon, your body and brain just kind of take over and you start wanting to do more. And it’s so beautiful when you can move into this space of letting your life pull you. And letting your habits program themselves and pull you. Instead of like, I must, I must force discipline willpower. The slow cut is the shortcut. You will become trust the process. So as we wrap things up reminder that the goal of this podcast is to program your brain, to start instilling systems and habits into your daily life. It’s not about what you know, it’s about what you do. Starting one very small step at a time. I want to give you a giveaway from our sponsor that I obviously know very much about. So we want to give you an eat well starter kit system. So to win this uh, You’re going to leave a review or comment on whatever platform you found us. So you can find us on all the major podcasting platforms or on social media platform, wherever you found us, leave a comment or a review and tell us your favorite quote or idea from today’s podcast. I will personally pick a favorite every single week. And I will send you a code for a free eat well starter kit. It’s $150 value. On our next episode, we’re going to continue to explore strategies on how to program the brain specifically what happens when you’ve tried to set a habit and it didn’t didn’t take there’s some really. Easy things that you can do to get those habits to take. So thank you so much for joining us. This is habits for humans and thank you in advance for giving us a positive review. Thanks everyone..

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