Friday, April 10, 2015

Small trends in the right or wrong direction

It is always surprising to me that little things can move so much. Often we think to accomplish anything we need to make a 100% commitment and do 100% the right thing all the time. Make this 120% or 150% commitment, when we failed before. “I will pull this off!” Well, the end of this story is only that we will fail again, and our self confidence and self worth are shot.

So, for a while now, I am a supporter of ‘small commitments’. Small commitment are like getting or asking for a sample of this new makeup you are interested in at Sephora. You can try it out, your curiosity is fulfilled, and you will know more if you really want it. Then, you can commit to make spend the money, and not regret. Small commitments
  • to learning new things in school/work, or
  • more fitness in my day,
  • new friends/dates, or
  • ‘getting into my skinny jeans’.
We can all start with a ‘test balloon’ to see if something works (for us) or if we even like it. It might have worked for someone else, but who says it actually works for us? We can all try something out for 1-2 weeks, 1-2 dates, 1-2 gym visits, walk on the treadmill only when we are thinking about starting the Couch-2-5K program, and then we know more. Know more if it worked, if we liked it, if we ‘feel it’, and we can throw a little more commitment towards it.

Those 100% commitment won’t get you anywhere. Not in the long run. It just seems to be a measure of how desperately we want it, but not a guarantee for success.

less_commitment_is_more

“Small habit changes” is what popsugar calls it, and it is true. Small changes can accomplish a lot. I am a big support of small changes. Too often have I seen people throw themselves 100% at something (“I go to the gym every day for 1.5h, because I really want to get fit by summer’') (“I will commit myself 100% to learning this.”) only for life to happen and them running out of steam, and feeling like a failure.

Now, they feel they have to make up for that failure and be 150% on target.  Give more than they are. Another way to damper on that motivation, starting out already feeling flawed, until that precious motivation peeters out altogether and stuck in the back of one’s mind as “I cannot do this. This is too hard.”

I could see from the beginning that this would be the natural way of things unfolding, and the problem was not the ‘not being able to keep it up’ but to set such a lofty goal to begin with.

skinny_jeans_diet

Little changes. Little trends. Walk more, drive your car less. Park the car farther from your work and walk a little bit more. Walk, don’t take the bus. Make it a habit. Cut down to 1 glass of wine a night, or a half. Drink only cappucino at Starbucks, but omit the sugary syrups. Just like the end of a week, when I think “where has my money gone? I did not buy anything!” the little things add up. And the little things won’t change that much of how we do things already.

The walking on the TM can lead to starting with the first week of the C25K, and adding a minute of running here and there. The 1 glass of wine a night can lead to no wine at all, or only on special occasions or in a restaurant. The cappucinos can lead to simply drinking coffee like in the good old days (also, a third of the price).

belfast_maine_spring_2015_chasesdaily_2

However, it can also go in the other direction. We finally fit into the skinniest jeans we have, we dropped those 5-10 vanity pounds, and we even kept it up for a while. We are really happy, clothes look good, fashion is fun, picking out the clothes in the morning is fabulous, and then we think, “oh, I am safe. I know I should not have that roll at the business lunch, but one time won’t hurt.” And it won’t. The next day we go to a new store and the crusty, fresh baked bread looks so good that we take one home, or we are hungry and there are only pastries, not salad, and we say, ah, one time won’t hurt. Or we are out too late in the evening, and ravenous, and pick up a sandwich at panera bread instead of cooking at home. Or there is a birthday party or a trip or a vacation, and everyone makes exceptions at parties, right? At one point, there is an exception every day, a small exception, and still it feels like an avalanche after a while, because the weight goes up again, slowly but surely.

So, keep little trends in mind.

They actually make a big difference. One way, or the other.

Every decision has a consequence. Everything decision counts.

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