Prompt: You need to make a major change in your life. Do you make it all at once, cold turkey style, or incrementally?
Oh, the changes I need to make in my life. That list is horribly long. And when I try to make changes, I am confident the reason I fail is because I try to do it all at once. But I’m getting better about making incremental changes. A couple of examples:
- Using the ATracker Pro app has helped with incremental changes. I don’t always use it, but when I feel myself start to head down the couch potato-internet-TV wormhole, I look at my list of tasks and figure out what could I do with my time that is actually productive? Rather than declare I will only have x amount of screen time (And invariably fail), ATracker helps me make incremental changes with how I spend my time at home.
- Keeping work time sacred has been incremental–and productive. I used to have a really hard time getting things like lesson planning and grading done at school. I’m still not as effective as I’d like to be, but when I find myself drifting into social time at school, I look at my to-do list and think, “What one thing do I not want to do at home?” And I do that one thing. What typically happens is that one thing turns into two or three, I pick up momentum, and my home time becomes much more valuable to me.
- Decreasing gluten is another incremental change that hasn’t been nearly as awful as I thought it would be. After a particularly awful IBS attack, I started doing more research about what I needed to change in my diet, and started learning about FODMAPs. As I’ve slowly decreased (but not eliminated) gluten and other troublesome foods from my diet, I’ve felt better. Small changes are making it much more tolerable than if I issued myself an edict to never eat brownies again.
So, incremental changes are working much better for me than making sweeping cold turkey changes. Now if I could just make the same thing happen with exercise…and diet Coke…and reading…and…and…and…