Sometimes we have many things on our plate, and it looks like a lot needs attention or should be changed.
Maybe you’d like to get fit, declutter your home, change careers, or something else, and it just feels like a lot. If it feels like too much 99% of the time, it’s super easy to give in to the feeling of overwhelm and pressure.
TO SET GOALS OR NOT TO SET GOALS?
Most of the time, I’d say SET GOALS. But sometimes, if you feel a tremendous amount of resistance, there’s a workaround you can try.
This approach is not about making lofty goals but just picking one little thing you’d like to change, just to make a dent in the pile of things calling for your attention.
Just two years ago, I would not make any more plans because I’d failed to stick to any so many times in the past.
I would procrastinate on all things possible and almost accepted that some people are just like that and there’s no way to change.
Now and again, I would muster the courage to work hard: I’d clean my home top to bottom, exercise every day for 30 minutes, work on my admin stuff for a week straight. I could get things done (usually under the pressure of a deadline), but soon after, I would drift into the abyss of not working at all.
IT STARTED WITH A CLEAN SINK
One of my biggest annoyances was the constant mess at home. I could clean for hours, but after a short time, you couldn’t tell the difference! The problem was, none of my family members would put things away to where they belonged. Many things didn’t belong anywhere – they just lived in their forever temporary, random spots.
And then one day, as I was browsing the internet, I came across a youtube video where one lady was talking about her cleaning struggles and the idea of always having a clean kitchen sink. Just this one thing.
At first, I laughed. I didn’t even know people would make videos about them cleaning their houses! It seemed ridiculous at the time, but somehow a seed was planted in my mind.
Later that day, when I was in front of my kitchen sink, brimming with dirty dishes, I decided to clean it. It took me a while, but I liked the idea. Of course, the sink did not stay clean for long, even if the dishwasher was right next to it, but I digress.
The point is, I stuck to the idea of keeping the sink clean (you can familiarise yourself with this idea from the famous Fly Lady System).
Don’t get me wrong; most of my house was still a mess most of the time. But the clean sink was like the North Star for what it could be one day (aka clean home).
At first, my clean sink would feel odd, as it used to be so messy. But after a while, a dirty sink started to feel odd!
Soon after, I would add other, tiny changes to my routines ( and routines are another vital chapter in my book) to improve things. For example, I would try to empty the dishwasher as soon as it would finish, so I would have it available for new dirty dishes (that would previously end up in the kitchen sink, as the dishwasher was full).
Two years later, and my home may be far from perfect, but it is also cleaner than ever!
SNOWBALLING FROM A CLEAN SINK TO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE – HABITS CLUSTERS
But it didn’t stop there. By conquering something I had always failed at (messy home), I got encouraged to try other things from my mile-long procrastination list.
I started meditating more often, exercise more frequently, and study Spanish. All of these things have been on my list for an embarrassingly long time. I sometimes would feel motivated to do them in the past, but it never lasted very long; I would sometimes force myself to do them because, you know, I HAD to do them, I SHOULD do them. But as I failed to stick to my plans, the only thing left was discouragement and guilt.
So this time, I approached things differently. I didn’t set any precise goals – no milestones and no deadlines. I would pick one small thing, so little it seemed insignificant, and just do my best to stick to it.
That could mean doing five squats, practicing Spanish conjugation for 2 minutes, or write for… 30 seconds.
That approach alone lifted a lot of unnecessary pressure, and therefore, resistance.
All of these actions were easy wins, low hanging fruit. And it somehow snowballed to a lot of positive changes in my life. And it just keeps going!
HOW CAN CHANGE HAPPEN
There are many ways to approach change, as there are many stages of change.
You can start bold, with a clear vision, but you could also start small, without any particular plan, without clearly defined milestones.
It would not be one of your defined goals, but more an intention, an adventure to spark your curiosity, stretch your comfort zone a bit, try a more lighthearted and playful approach.
This approach means the following steps:
- Pick a small action targeting an area where you’d like to see a change.
- Don’t think of conquering the issue, but instead just making a dent.
- Observe your actions.
- Correct your actions if necessary
Think of when & where you’re going to perform your action. Ideally, link it to another activity that you perform daily, so it becomes your trigger.
Once the new habit becomes second nature to you, you can think of adding another small habit.
By collecting those easy wins, you’ll build trust in your ability to do what you wanted to do, also known as improving your self-efficacy.
That is an incredible feeling to have! And because we tend to do what feels good more often, you’ll likely adopt new positive habits soon.
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