Breakthroughs don’t change your life. Microhabits do. – Briana West @ForbesWomen.
When it comes to coaching techniques and establishing approaches to both short and long-term goal setting, I always set the bar at a very realistic level for clients. Do I expect perfection? Never. Will we encounter hills and valleys? 100%. Is the client going to go through disappointments, failures, and setbacks? Without a doubt. But here’s the thing. If we analyze each of these at face value, we see negative and discouraging elements. But, when we take a deeper look and breakdown each of these to their root, we can see that they are actually teaching important lessons to the client. How experiences are perceived and what can be learned from them are two very influential and powerful tools we have access to.
Change begins the moment you start shifting your mindset from the bigger picture and begin focusing on the smaller details. We can not only positively reshape the way we think about our individual journeys toward reaching a goal and open up our eyes to seeing more silver linings. When things seem so far away, it can become very easy to think we are incapable of getting there. Filling our minds with negative ideas and thoughts that bring us down and create a lot of self-doubts. We owe it to ourselves to always beleive in what we are capable of achieving.
So how do we get there? What is the secret to expanding our minds while eliminating negative, self-limiting thoughts?
When your plate feels full (no nutrition coach pun intended) and life gets overwhelming, taking on something new can easily push you overboard mentally-emotionally-and physically. Anything that mimics change might scare you a bit more than usual, and if it scares you, you may feel more anxiety than normal about things you usually would feel excited about or in control over. I’ve been there, in fact, I’m there every day. I’m not good with change, whether it’s good or bad, I struggle with coping and adjusting. It’s always been challenging to comfort and settle myself. It takes me some extra time, and you know what? That’s ok.
Microhabits have been a great tool and resource for me to implement into my life. They help me to maintain more calm, more control, and more balance. These little empowering changes to my usual day-to-day routine have given me the opportunity to work on areas of my life that better align with my goals. What’s better? I’ve been able to identify and remove things that no longer serve a purpose in helping me get there.
It isn’t about WHAT you do.
It’s about HOW you approach it.
CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN: A SIMPLE THOUGHT THEORY
“Go big or go home”, “The bigger the better; in everything”, “Dream big” — reverse that thinking. It’s a little backward from what we have always been taught, but how can you climb a mountain if you’ve never climbed one before? What would you do to prepare? How will you get to the top? What happens if you don’t get to the top on your first try? There are so many things to take into account that we often skip over the small but important milestones. And what about that overwhelming sense of how will I ever do this, how will I get there? Break it down. I’m talking down to the tiniest starting points you can imagine. These are microhabits.
- Instead of going straight to climbing lessons, maybe you begin with a book to learn the basics so you can apply them to what you will learn
- Seek out an experienced climbing mentor to connect with
- Take one-on-one or group climbing lessons
- Plan small but incrementally challenging climbs to better prepare yourself
- Set a realistic timeframe, be limitless in your endeavors to successfully climb that big mountain in the longterm!
START OFF BY MAKING YOUR BED
One of the most moving videos I have ever watched is US Navy Admiral William McRaven’s 2014 University of Texas at Austin Commencement Address. In it, he shares his experiences as a Navy Seal and discusses different life lessons that he has carried forward from his training and time served. I am going to link this video below and encourage you to watch it all the way through, but if there is a particular section that most applies to the power of microhabits it can be found beginning at 4:45 when he shares the importance of starting the day off by making your bed.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed, will have turned into many tasks completed.
Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
SLOW DOWN & MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS
Initially, it may seem insignificant and a little useless, but microhabits take time and consistency. Just because they are smaller, doesn’t mean they will happen quicker. You have to be patient and slow down, practice your microhabits every single day. Instead of rushing and setting time specific expectations like “I’m going to give this a week”, maybe you give it 2 weeks and then you reassess your progress to determine what the next step should be or if you need to continue working on it.
Include a way to measure your progress. One of the most valuable tools you can have is a visual journey of where you began to your present. The day to day changes transition into week to week changes and those transition into month to month changes. Small details that create bigger results. One of my favorite supporting examples of this concept happens with body composition changes. Here is an example of a 150lb nutrition client working toward weight loss (A-H represent weeks):
A: -1.5 lbs lost
B: +0.4 lbs gained
C: -0.5 lbs lost
D: +0.1 lbs gained
E: -1.3 lbs lost
F: +0.5 lbs gained
G: -0.8 lbs lost
H: -1.2 lbs lost
What stands out to you the most? The weeks where weight was down or the weeks where weight was up? Did you give thought into the small amounts of weight loss occurring in expectation of there being more? These are the small details, and here is what we may fail to see outside of these week to week changes. Despite the fluctuations in weekly loss or gain, this client actually averaged -0.5 lbs weight loss every week over 8 weeks’ time. Small to big wins!
If you find yourself struggling to align your actions with your goals, it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve what you have set out to do. DON’T QUIT. Instead, reevaluate your approach with microhabits and KEEP GOING, YOU GOT THIS.