What’s Bubbling In Your Change Lab?
Baby Reid’s New Year Resolutions were:
1. To stop watching Lorries on Daddy’s phone.
2. To give up Jaffa cakes.
He’s doing quite exceptionally at both.
He’s barely batted an eyelid at either life-loss, which rubs salt in the wound of us perpetual new year resolution makers-and-breakers.
It also highlights the chasm between adults wanting to change their habits and 2.10 month year olds.
Last summer, my friend Clare and I spent a whole season studying how to change habits.
We created a portable Change Lab and experimented on ourselves. These experiments started small; giving up coffee, letting go of sugar for a set number of days and walking regularly etc. You can read about some of them here.
We explored what motivates/inspires us to do the things we know will be good for us.
We worked out how to “ninja” self-parent ourselves when our inner-kids had tantrums and just wanted to go on sugar binges and watch Netflix.
We experimented on holding ourselves accountable to another; worked out how our primitive cave-woman DNA was impacting our actions; gathered information from people who were already DOING the things we wanted to bring in and experimented with dive-bombing change as well as meticulously preparing before starting the shift.
What we discovered was that there is a whole Periodic Table of elements around changing habit patterns.
And that certain foundation actions made changing habits a bazillion (v. scientific number) times more possible.
These base elements were different for everyone.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A BASE ELEMENT?
So, it turns out that the actual beginning of anything starts well before what appears to be the beginning. If you imagine a bulb underground, the whole process of growth has begun way before any shoots breaks the surface of the soil.
It’s the same with any form of change in our lives or the planet.
It begins deep.
It begins way before it is witnessed.
For example, I wanted to start eating healthily.
(This isn’t as straight forward as it sounds when you live with a chef).
I knew that logically I could go to the fridge and prepare healthy food, but this was only one slither of the picture.
The step that came before was to make sure that there was healthy stuff IN the fridge, meaning that once a week I needed to be organised enough to sit down and order the food thaw I wanted.
(This is a major one for me. If I don’t choose a specific day to do my online shopping, then I will end up cooking anything or grabbing junk from the shop for ease.)
And yet, when I looked more closely, I realised that there were more steps that proceeded this.
The step that proceeded the shopping was mind-set – to be in a space of health and treating you body with kindness and respect.
In order to create this mind set and sense of well being, I had to start the day THE RIGHT WAY.
My morning routine is paramount to how I execute other actions through the day.
If I start off groggy, irritable and then go and reach for a coffee first thing … I’m done for. However, if I begin the day consciously by walking or journaling and having a lemon water to flush my system, I’ve affirmed my mind set of health and set up the day for more health.
So, was an early morning routine the base element of healthy eating?
No. There was still something else that sat before. This was going to bed early the night before.
If I don’t sleep, I feel tired and I can’t get up. I’m grumpy. I drink coffee. Then I think f**k it and drink more coffee and eat crumpets.
So, really, my base element of eating healthily is to get an early night.
Who would have thought?!
1. Think about something that you want to change in your life. This could be around relationships, your health, fitness, well being, work or a creative project that you want to complete.
2. On a piece of paper, write down the obvious steps that you will need to take (ie. what resources, materials, networks etc you will require).
3. List all of the qualities of character you’ll need to achieve the thing ie. commitment, inner strength, responsibility.
4. Now write a list of numbers, starting from 20 and working your way back to 1. Beside number 20 write a statement declaring that whatever you are focusing on is complete, finished, whole and successful. Below, next to 19, write what will naturally proceed that final destination.
5. Continue to work your way back until you get to 1. If you run out of ideas you need to dig deeper. Really drill down and think about whether you’ve really come to your base element and the true beginning.
6. Once you have your 20 steps, take action on the first one and see how much more successful your habit changing experiences are now.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR WHAT’S BUBBLING IN YOUR CHANGE LAB!
What are you niggled by in your life? What are you committed to changing so that life takes on a more gorgeous hue? What is the very root of the change you want to make? Try working your change back to the very base element in the exercise above. I’d love to hear what you discover in the comments!