4: To Make Big Progress, Take Smaller Steps

Behavior change is hard. While I hope you are doing well on your personal goals, here are a few things to consider if are not making the progress you were hoping for.  If you are making progress, keep it up and ask yourself these questions. You may discover what you’re doing right!

Projects are not tasks.

6 questions to ask yourself when an item on your to do list has been there for too long:

  1. Do I really know what the very first step is?
  2. Do I have everything I need to begin? Materials? Information?
  3. Do I know exactly what “done” looks like?
  4. Do I know why this is important?
  5. Have I scheduled time to work on this?
  6. Do I need to ask for help?

Small steps will add up to big progress.  Where are you right now with your goal?

6 questions to ask yourself to help you gain clarity:

  1. Are you working on habit formation?  (If yes, here is a simple app that I use called ‘Good Habit Maker.’  It pushes one message to you at variable time intervals to keep the thought about the change you are trying to make in the front of your mind.)
  2. Are you are working on or thinking about the change you want to make?
  3. What would improvement look like on paper? (5 minutes is an increase from zero minutes. Once is 100% more than zero.)
  4. What has NOT worked for me in the past?
  5. Am I repeating an old way of doing something? (The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.)
  6. Am I pacing myself? (Often we begin new goals with great enthusiasm, but we burn ourselves out by not pacing ourselves.)

The most important part of behavioral change: Create a plan on paper (or somewhere out of your head). Intentionally make it look too easy!

Here is an example in my own life of big goals done slowly.

I am about 1 pound away from achieving my weight loss goal. My goal was to loose 2-3 pounds. Easy, right? Let’s look at how I broke it down. The goal I am describing is this month’s goal. My goal for this week is 0-1 pound. I can give a range that includes 0 because I am on target for the month. My actual goal was to lose 20 pounds. This was back in May. Here is what I did… In May 2013, I weighed xxx. I wanted to be xxx minus 20 by December 15th for my sister-in-law’s wedding. I did the math, and it came out to just under 3 pounds per month or 1 pound per week for 3 out of 4 (or 3 out of 5) weeks per month. Part of my behavior included weighing myself daily and recording my weight in an app called ‘Track and Share.’ I started an exercise regimen of 15 minutes on my exercise bike at low resistance and slowly worked my way up to 45 minutes at higher intensity. I reduced the size of my morning protein shake by about 30%. (I made large shakes to begin with, so I didn’t feel hungrier or food deprived.)

Recommended Apps

Track and Share

I have been using this app on my iPad for a few years now.  I have used it to track various aspects of my own life from sleep and exercise, to productivity and weight.  I did find that there was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but if you have a little patience, the rewards can pay off.  It is very customizable and can give you a nice graphical perspective of how you are doing.

Sleep Cycle alarm clock – Northcube AB

There are many great features to this app, but here I will point out two.

1. The Intelligent Alarm.  This app uses the motion sensor to know what phase of sleep you are in.  You give it a range (30 minutes is recommended), and then it will wake you within a 30 minute window during your lightest phase of sleep.  Say goodbye to waking up groggy.

2. Notes: You customize the note fields, and then it prompts you to choose what you have indicated, such as “ate a big meal” or “drank alcohol.”  You have to choose these as you’re setting the alarm.  Then it gives you all kinds of great data!!!  Learn what has an impact on your sleep.

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