When my youngest was learning to walk, he would take two small wobbly steps, fall, cry... and start over again. He picked himself up, concentrated, took eight more steps, and then fall on his butt. It was quite adorable, but I can only imagine how frustrating and challenging it must have been for him.
I have been trying out his "baby steps" technique to change some of my personal habits. The things I've been trying to change include:
- Waking up at 5:10 am 3 days a week in order to have time to myself -- whether that time is attending a Pilates class (that is so hard I want to cry), writing some blog ideas, or trying a 5 minute meditation moment in the basement.
- Only watching one TV show or movie each week.
- Using a new work and personal planner that focuses on weekly, monthly, and annual goals... therefore forcing me to plan my week in advance.
I'm only 3 weeks into these attempted changes, and I've learned a few things. If you are interested in making any sort of changes to your life or your routines, I think this technique can be both challenging and rewarding all in one. I've learned:
It's going to HURT: Do you think I was excited to hear my alarm at 5:10am after staying up until 11pm the night before? HELL NO. It was terrible, and the first few days involved me barely doing much other than stretching on the floor or making coffee... because the thought of getting up to jog or work-out sounded like a death sentence.
Set yourself up for success: I'm glad I allowed myself to take it slow. So many times I hear of someone making these HUGE changes immediately, without easing into it. I don't know about you, but the thought of running a marathon without first learning to jog 5 miles would be impossible. For me, starting small has granted myself a "high five" for even getting out of bed. I need some positive encouragement to keep up the momentum.
You'll have to pick yourself up from falling, again and again: Last week, I didn't follow my new planner technique, and was much less productive and effective than I had been. I was defeated and frustrated, and was tempted to abandon my new planner with a "well, it's just not working for me" excuse. Instead, I will admit failure and stand up to try again.
You will fall back into old habits: Hubby was out of town one night, and I had the house to myself. Instead of going to bed early with grand plans, I ignored my planner, drank wine, and binged on episodes of "Mad Men" until nearly midnight. Let's just say that the next day's 5 am alarm was ignored and my work was not epic. That's ok. I clearly needed a night to ignore my goals. I did, however, choose to make different choices the following night.
Remind yourself WHY: I have had to do this more than anything else. I keep telling myself things like, "You want to accomplish great things at work and at home, so planning things with goals in mind will help you do that." or "Making time in the morning will set a better tone and energy for the day," or "I know you want to watch Saturday Night Live re-runs right now and laugh until your side hurts, but sleep will make you a better person in the morning."
You have to start somewhere, just like those cute little babies stumbling around everywhere. Fall down every once in a while, let out a ridiculous whiny scream, and then get back up and try again. It can't hurt to try. Taking those little baby steps might help us achieve bigger things.