Small Move, Big Change
Small Move, Big Change
Caroline L. Arnold
All of us have found ourselves, at one point or another, resolved to make changes in our lifestyles for a better life. Whether it be losing weight or never drinking again, it has always been hard following through with these resolutions.
Why does this happen?
- Your resolutions are perhaps too ambitious and never stream-lined. You are tempted to make a sweeping statement of ‘getting fit’ but don’t outline exactly how you will go about achieving this feat or for how long. Therefore, resolutions fail because you don’t have a solid idea of what you mean to achieve in the first place! These are wannabe resolutions and result in no actual change as there is no place of beginning that you provide yourself.
- Most of our lives are spent on ‘autopilot’. Many of our habits are involuntary and are executed without much thought. Just like how normal things like stopping at a red light is done unconsciously, bad habits also creep into our autopilot. Eating a big breakfast after a workout can become a habit and is detrimental to the change we hope to attain.
- The opposite of autopilot is mindfulness that is the state of being aware of your actions. It requires a large amount of willpower and mental energy. The former is exceedingly hard to exercise and reverting to old habits is easier. Incredibly rare instances similar to serious changes like receiving bad news about a disease or a chaotic breakup can jolt you into making major changes.
Proclaim war on your autopilot to make it possible. Micro-resolutions are the solution!
- These take your wide-ranging and expansive resolutions and hacks them into smaller more feasible and specific plans. Instead of undertaking larger problems, micro-resolutions target one or two smaller problems and bring in minor habit changes.
- They are always obvious and precise. They must focus on a particular change in behavior and not something that can be accomplished in several different ways. For example, to lose weight the following is what we usually resolve to do:
A micro-resolution would look something like this:
Being specific prevents the discovery of loopholes and excuses and it also provides instant gratification.
You might hit some resistance in the early stages of making these changes as it takes time for your brain to adapt to new alterations. But once you get the ball rolling, the changes will be easier to adjust to. But this ease should not be taken for granted and overestimated. Don’t overload yourself with micro-resolutions because of small victories. Do the necessary steps in slight increments and slip it into your life smoothly. Concentrate on one or two micro-resolutions at a time to streamline your focus. Once you’ve incorporated these new habits into your autopilot, you can start to construct onto them other micro-resolutions.
Micro-resolutions are also as unique as you. Don’t deceive yourself by thinking that there is a set of universal habits that might work for you. They need to be tailored to an individual’s needs, desires, and capabilities. But there are some basic parameters one needs to follow while crafting a micro-resolution:
- Use positive framing. Don’t make it purely as a command, as motivation to follow it will only decrease. Say things like ‘I will savor my food’ instead of ‘I will eat slowly.’
- On the other hand, zero-tolerance framing is also applicable. This is best for battling traps that lead to bad habits. Firmly, put your foot down on things that can be avoided.
Much like Pavlov’s dogs that are conditioned to expect food every time a bell rings, we are also accustomed to reacting in a specific way when we smell or hear certain things. This can result in unhealthy habits. But this effect can be manipulated to aid you in completing your micro-resolution. To accomplish this, certain cues can be used to create an anchor for your micro-resolution.
- One convenient cue is that of time. For instance, if you want to walk to work, anchor it to a specific day like say ‘Every Friday morning, I will walk to work.’
- You can piggyback or attach one micro-resolution to the other like flossing along with brushing your teeth every day.
Sleep is the most important process your body goes through but we don’t sleep as much as we ought to. Examine your nightly routine and identify the activities that mess with your sleep cycle. Your new micro-resolution can be eliminating all the factors that don’t let you sleep at an appropriate time. Repeating this cycle will help you add a better sleeping habit to your autopilot.
We could all do with a lot more exercise and increased activity levels but our busy lifestyles may not permit it. Small changes rather than all-or-nothing sweeping promises work better.
In conclusion, small changes in the form of micro-resolutions work better in the long-run towards effecting change.
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