Hello friends! This is the last post of what has turned into a 3 part series regarding resolutions that stick.
For those of you stopping by for the first time I will give a quick recap.
- In the first part here, I covered creating a life review-inventory, where you write about the people, activities and things that feed you and take from you in 3 basic areas.
- The second part here has 3 steps within it. The first is to write letters to what I called the “glaring takers”. Those people, activities and things that are so draining to you that they stir you up emotionally just looking at them in the inventory. This is an important clearing process before the fun, second part of setting intentions of what kind of people, activities and things you want to replace those takers with. The last step is about making resolutions to feed yourself regularly in mind, body and heart. This is what would ultimately lead you to wise, well thought out and executed ideas to make those intentions a reality.
Resolutions To Change Your Outside Circumstances
Before I go on to the the main topic of this post I need to share a little more on the importance of creating resolutions on self care. For some the natural next step might be to ruthlessly make resolutions on kicking out the takers and making your new intentions a reality, that is just not what has worked for me.
For one as I said before, we all have patterns of self sabotage without us knowing it. When I focus on changing, say a relationship, if I haven’t cleared the pattern in me that brought that relationship into my life, experience has taught me that I’ll create another with similar patterns. It was a real bummer when I realized I had spent the first half of my year following through on a resolution to replace a taker relationship with a feeder only to find out it was another taker.
No Magic Pill to Reset Patterns
Writing letters to those takers is a clearing exercise that helps us process undigested old stuff around those takers but in no way guarantees to magically lift a pattern from it’s roots. Let’s be real, our inner garbage has layers to it.
Life Is Not Always Clear Cut
How do you replace an exhausting boss, neighbor or family member? Life is complex and sometimes it’s not necessarily about replacing, but to change your approach. As a result of changing our mind, a few small subtleties in the way we respond to that person could transform that taker into a feeder.
Example of Tweaking Your Approach
Playing pretend cars with my son was absolutely draining to me. It so fed him though, to the extent that he was a much happier, cooperative and well adjusted child when I gave him that. The answer for me was not to replace it (lord knows I tried, no other activity gave him that much fulfillment like this type of play) but to tweak my self care around it. I made myself my favorite tea to sip while doing it, I set a timer to mark a definitive beginning and end to it, played music I love in the background and topped it off with a 15 minute nap to recover from it afterwards. This changed my approach to it and made this taking activity into one that feeds me as well as my son.
Only your inner knowing knows what’s the best route. Tapping into it is the best investment in time and energy you could make.
The Best Investment
My trust has been strengthened over the years in the power of disciplined self care through my own experience. Resolutions that build the discipline of doing what needs to get done to get quiet and access that small and wise voice are the best resolutions in my book. The way to access that is different for everyone and it may take some tinkering but is well worth the effort.
I gave ideas in the last post of what kinds of activities help with this.
Your Environment Shapes You If You’re Not Shaping It
The final make or break piece to making resolutions that stick is your environment. Setting up your environment to support your efforts of self care is of utmost importance. Behavioral scientists get paid millions to gather research on how best retailers can set up their stores, brochures and website environments to get you to buy. There is a science behind designing environments and you can use it to your benefit. This science even has a name, choice architecture.
I was first introduced to this term by one of my all time favorite bloggers on habit transformation James Clear in this article. He explains beautifully the power of environment to influence us with research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Using The Science to Nudge My Son’s Behavior
Maria Montessori figured out the power of environmental setup in the early 1900’s and made it a foundational principle in her child development philosophy. The concept that children’s brains develop differently when they grow up having choices of activities physically laid out for them, intrigued me as a pregnant mother.
Shelves Instead of Bins
For example toys tossed in a big storage bin and having to dig for them will make it less likely that a child will use those toys compared to having them laid out on a shelf. The ease of quickly being able to choose at a glance with the latter setup, sets up the child for making choices on exploring those activities/ objects more likely. The effectiveness in this approach was proven to me through experience with my own son.
Effect In Different Environments
As a toddler my son would spend up to an hour exploring the shelves in his carefully designed room, set up by yours truly. This was in contrast to when at his grandparents house he’d be off looking for kitchen cabinets to explore within seconds of seeing his storage bin of toys that abuelita had so lovingly filled up for him.
Digital Detox Nudging
To discourage my son from his electronic game use I made the bottom shelves of our dining room bookcase the new home for his writing station complete with a basket of crayons, a stack of white and colored construction paper, individual cups of markers, scissors, erasers, stickers, glue, scotch tape and colored pencils. This coupled with 2 other shelves that individually housed his Lego and building blocks bins.
Preferred Choices =Easy Access, Deterred Choices = Difficult Access
I also placed his iPad in a drawer in our office room. This making it more difficult to get to. Laying out the preferred options in an easily accessible way and the the other option out of sight made this subtle nudge a success. In time when he would come home, he forgot about the iPad option and instead opted for playing with whatever was in his shelves. Out of sight out of mind as they say.
Intentional Layout Examples
So if it’s your resolution to be outside more then what if you had an easily accessible and beautiful umbrella, rain jacket and boots near your entrance to invite you to take a walk outside even if it rained? You can setup your environment so that it invitingly nudges you to make the preferred choice.
The preferred choice of eating healthier is not just about not having the cookie jar out, but about making sure the kitchen table fruit bowl is always stocked.
Having your exercise clothes laid out the night before will likely get you to make that choice when you first wake up compared to having to to look around for it.
These are just a few examples. What will you change in your environment to nudge you in the right direction?
For your viewing pleasure here is a great video I found in LinkedIn that explains more on the power of nudging our environments to influence us.
If you found this post helpful remember to like, comment or share. As always thanks for stopping by!
P.s. My apologies for the early morning (3am) delivery of this post on Friday instead of Thursday. Still trying to get a handle on juggling the holiday activities 🙂