Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Commit to One - How to Succeed on the Macro with one thing more and one thing less on the Micro

So in yesterday's post, we looked at the idea that a successful Macro Change like dropping a dress size or getting a complete bodyweight pull up is based on putting together a bunch of far less visible, repeated micro habit changes. I suggested that we may gain better success if we pay attention to all those micro steps and begin to bank them deliberately.

banksy street sign
This wee post is to propose one way to begin to bank the micro habit changes: commit to one.  That is, consciously commit to doing one COMPLETELY DOABLE thing LESS and one COMPLETELY DOABLE thing more.

One thing more and one thing less can be completely doable and still meaningful.

if it feels to big or too effortful to do the one thing you're thinking about, dial it back: what WOULD be doable? go with that. it's ok. it's the going that really counts - builds reps - changes the brain. Really.

With that one thing set: then do the SAME commitment for four days running, which behaviour change expert Martha Beck suggests is what we need to help dial in a totally doable micro change.

Then we reflect: how did we do? how did that feel to do the one thing more; the one thing less? We can build on that.

For me this program for this working week (so i'm thinking five days) might be turning on my email just one less time today; looking into my partner's eyes and really listening one time more today.  Doing either of these things i'd have to say (sadly perhaps) would be a challenge. Work is you know *so important* - but i would also feel better for doing them. The minutes i get back from these simple acts contribute to quality of life.

So that's it: find something in our lives at which we could be better, healthier; find one thing more and one thing less to do, and do it.

The important thing is: we can see the success immediately. Was i about to check my email, and deliberately did not do that. Was i about to check my email and instead engaged with my partner, another human being, who is more important than, oh, just about anything, including the computer?

I don't think it matters what the practice is, so long as we practice  it with deliberate conscious intent. That in itself builds our capacity to do what we want to ask ourselves to do. And if we do have a specific Macro Goal like dropping X pounds of fat, one thing more or less that supports that, repeated for a week - that will help get us there.

 What do you think?

Reminder: If what you're thinking of doing feels too challenging - like you won't or can't do it for whatever reason, consider some change even smaller. What CAN you do more for yourself, less for yourself. What is possible, right now, in this moment? That's a fabulous positive act: to pick something that actually CAN be done, and to do that actual thing. If it were easy we'd all have done it by now. So credit where it's due: find the one thing that will work for you.

If you feel so inclined please share a few of your Commit to One practices for the week.

Next time, an example around one thing less via exploring a little hunger.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One thing more *and* less: path from micro habit to macro success

Let's consider change.

Change of some kind is what it seems most of us are trying to accomplish most of the time: some kind of change -  to weigh less; to lift more; to work less and play more (or vice versa, though i hope not).

For some of us, our desire to change is intermittent or can seem like failure before we even start - i'll quit smoking later, rather than now; i'd like to lose weight but it never works for long; i try to workout but i can't stick with a program. Or i want to lose weight but i hate diets (with ya there); i want to spend more time with my family/partner, but i have so much work to do - or i'm too dam tired when i get home and i have to work after all. I want to eat healthier but i have no time to do that kind of shopping/cooking/preparing.

Conscious Goodness
I've been wondering if the reason  we fail in our goal to achieve noticeable change is that we rarely systemically give ourselves credit for the successes we do have: we don't build up an awareness bank of the positive as part of the necessary contributions that are essential for what we'd call Success.

Burning a pound of fat has to start with that one calorie that takes us below maintenance and into deficit. That 300lb deadlift has to start with picking something up that we can pick up. And then doing it again.

Macro Success is pretty much just accumulation of  micro habit success.
There's the macro level - the big(ger) picture; then there's the micro level - the near in detail that feeds the big picture.

I think most of us - understandably - focus on the macro picture rather than the grind of the micro.

So over the next few posts i'd like to talk about some strategies around practicing and focusing on micro habit successes. Why? to bring a little more celebration to our lives. If we can plan to do one thing more and one thing less each day - just one - and keep doing that - we can ONLY succeed. It's inevitable. Such one thing more and one thing less every day means bringing our attention to our success in the now, rather than our macro goal Somewhere Out There.

That focus on success in the now is HARD work in and of itself. If i want a breadstick right now, why shouldn't i have it? How will that really kill my goal to lose x pounds? Maybe it won't -even though starchy carbs outside a workout are my nadar. But if i promised to do one breadstick less, and it's now bedtime, here's my opportunity to keep a personal commitment - feel good about that at the end of the day - and to practice restraint. Such restraint not only allows me to practice and explore what self-discipline is like, but it also helps rewire my hedonic cravings so that progressively, the breadstick craving gets quieter.  I am banking up a bunch of successes. They are small; they are repeatable. They deliver success.

Let us consider change via one thing more and one thing less every day - that's my focus for the next few posts. 

Inspiration for Micro Habit Success Banking
I am inspired in this path by two authors in particular: Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (here's a book link for UK || US) talking about being able to make a promise to oneself and keeping it - and how powerful that can be for building up this kind of micro habit practice. 

I am also inspired by Martha Beck's the Four Day Win - the Way to Thinner Peace (a US link || a UK link) . Effectively she looks too at strategies to create sure fire, no fail, consistently practicable promises to oneself to deliver on change.

I strongly recommend both books

one thing less: going (a little) hungry; one thing more working out (a little) harder
What i'd like to explore in these next few posts is how one thing, more and less can let us not only achieve our macro goals by drawing attention to micro successes, but how we can learn a bit more about parts of ourselves that we might not otherwise have considered would work for us; how our resilience can be fulfilling.

This focus is a little different than Covey's and Beck's. There's is focused on the psychological struggle for being better people in particular arenas: Covey, it's better success mainly at work; Beck is about weight loss (i love the "way to thinner peace" subtitle of the four day win).

What i'd like to explore is how we are *physically* resilient, and plastic, and how by nudging this plasticity we can do great things - more than we thought possible while at the same time rebuilding ourselves, fundamentally, into the brains-with-bodies; bodies-with-brains we want to be as resilient wonderful successful frickin joyful people. Bank on it.

Here's a quick "how to" Commit To One thing more; one thing less

so next time an example of one thing less and resilience; then one thing more.


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