As I write this post I am starting my second “2-week experiment” with the practice of exercising every week day at 7:00 am – for 20 minutes, plus a bit of stretching at the end.
This is a tremendous miracle on so many levels.
Really. I can still hardly believe it’s happening.
And yet, like most miracles, it didn’t just happen TO me. It took some participation on my part.
I have never been one to exercise regularly – and it IS only my third week of this, so the jury is still out on whether the habit will stick, but this current victory in the realm of exercise compels me to share with you three “miracle-working” tips that you might want to try for some area of your life where you long for change.
If you’re great at exercising, stay with me. Because these tips can help you to move in the direction of ANYTHING you want to do.
Maybe for you it’s mediation.
Maybe you want to regularly floss your teeth.
Maybe you want to read more books.
Maybe you want to start volunteering regularly at the boys and girls club down the street.
Maybe you want to step up your wardrobe.
But no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to manage the change you hope for.
As one of my favorite coaches, Tara Mohr suggests, in order to work that miracle in your life I’m pretty sure that you’re going to need to MAKE IT EASY.
So I suggest that you stop beating yourself up for not being
or smart enough
or creative enough
or spiritual enough,
Instead, be as kind to yourself as you would be to the most adorable little toddler whose trying to learn how to walk and keeps falling down. Make it easy for yourself to get to a win. For that little toddler we pad corners and hold hands and provide supports. Then we cheer for one tiny step as if the whole world had changed, right? Because some part of us knows that the whole world actually HAS changed with that one step! It’s a miracle!
I’m not sure exactly what will work for you – as always you should take what’s useful to you and leave the rest— but here are a few miracle-working strategies that have been helpful to me.
1) The 2-week experiment. I picked this one up on a now-defunct podcast called “The Uncluttered Life” and it is brilliant. Whatever new commitment you want to make, commit to it for just 2 weeks. Not a month. Not a year. Just 2 weeks. Decide today what you are going to try and don’t re-evaluate the decision for 2 weeks. Just follow the plan. In my case, my “real” goal is to keep this every morning exercise thing going for 3 months before I make any big changes, but I’m heading towards that intention in 2-week chunks. I did 2 weeks. Now I’ve started another 2 weeks. At the end of this 2 weeks I have full permission to change the plan or scrap the plan.
But not tomorrow. Because it hasn’t been 2 weeks yet.
This strategy has a couple benefits built right in. First, it’s a chance for a small win pretty quick. If 2 weeks is too long, make it smaller! One day. Four days. The key is to choose a short time period, stop analyzing and start doing – which leads me to the next idea.
2) Make the change TINY. The part of you that gets really hyped and manic with “I’m going to change my life” energy probably wants a much bigger, sexier, more exciting commitment.
But that part probably also doesn’t like to show up when it gets boring.
Or when you didn’t sleep well.
When I say tiny, I do mean tiny! My longest stint of consistent exercise in my life prior to this time consisted of 3 repetitions of half of a sun salutation (i.e. about 3 minutes of yoga) that I did every day. That was it. I did that consistently for over 6 months, with almost no exceptions – until I replaced that practice with Pilates and now my 20 min treadmill/elliptical practice. It wasn’t much, but since it was so small my ability to tell myself that I didn’t have time to do it was greatly diminished.
Less resistance. More success.
And I’m pretty sure those months helped build a foundation for my new slightly bigger commitment of 20 minutes. It wasn’t just the tininess of this plan that made it work, though. There was another ingredient in the formula…
3) Tie the new thing to an old thing. The other key factor in my initial sun salutation success was that I connected the new habit I wanted to build to a habit already had. My husband brings me coffee every morning (I know, pretty luxurious) and there is a very small temperature window within which I like to drink it. So every morning there would be a point at which I would go warm up my mug of half-finished coffee. I made it a requirement that I had to do my 3 half sun salutations before I could warm the coffee. This made the new habit hard to forget AND provided an immediate reward.
Tara Mohr has other ideas – like gathering some cheerleaders around you, finding accountability partners, tapping in to a goal that feels like it’s a gift to yourself instead of just a “should.”
And pretty much every coachy, self-help person out there (myself included) will tell you to CELEBRATE the tiny miracles you create, your tiny new successes. I’ve found all of these ideas helpful at various points and teach them to clients regularly, but the three I just shared are so simple and so powerful – they should get you going.
Hit reply and tell me what you’re trying out and I’ll be your first cheerleader!
Here’s to thriving!