On an almost daily basis I imagine what my life would be like if I were “That Person.”
The one who maintains all of the good habits, keeps the house organized, goes to the gym every day, goes to bed at a reasonable hour and takes vitamins and supplements on schedule.
I compare myself to That Person and say to myself, “If only I were as organized I would be happy.” At that point I take a deep breath and remind myself that although I may not be a paragon of perfection, I am smart, resourceful and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.
Following this conversation with myself for the nth time, I committed to working with respected coach Dr. Sydney Metrick, who specializes in personal organization. My hope was that I could learn some strategies for maintaining all of the healthy lifestyle habits that I value so much.
The holy grail of habits, as far as I am concerned, is exercise. I am utterly aware of the happiness and health that exercise brings to my life and yet I struggle to maintain this ritual. Finding the time and energy, a suitable activity or place, and then finally following through when the time comes are just a few of the challenges that I face. There is actually quite a bit of coordinating that has to take place for me to get some exercise.
Together, the doctor and I used a powerful series of questions that helped me identify what exactly I need to do. Here is what that dialogue was like:
“What do you want?”
Well…exercise. More specifically I want to go swimming at least 3 times a week.
“What things need to happen in order for that to take place?”
Hmm, quite a few things actually. If I want to go to the morning masters swimming workout I need to coordinate with my husband to find out his availability in the morning to take care of the kids, I need to pack my bag the night before and get to bed at a reasonable hour.
“What can you do to make these things easier to accomplish?”
I take some time to brainstorm some ideas: I could set a reminder in my phone to go to bed or get my bag ready, I could sit down with my husband and schedule a week at a time.
“When you are maintaining this habit, what is contributing to your success?”
This stumps me for a minute. Then I realize that the nighttime routine of checking in with my husband, packing my bag and going to bed is really the most important part of the puzzle. If I do those things the likelihood of me getting out the door at 5:30am to go swimming increases dramatically.
“When you are NOT maintaining this habit, what are the obstacles that are coming up?”
Well, that’s easy. My kids get sick, I get sick, my husband has to work early, I have too much work to do and don’t get to bed early enough, etc., etc. But most often it is simply that I don’t bother to check in with my husband about his availability or pack my bag the night before, or I don’t commit to getting to bed by 10:00.
During my time working with Sydney we analyzed many of my desired habits in a similar way. In going through this process I learned to identify the action steps necessary to support a habit, creatively brainstorm systems to incorporate these action steps into my life, and watch out for the obstacles that inevitably pop up.
Most importantly, I learned that I function much better when I cut myself some slack and actually PLAN for the obstacles. If I accept that obstacles will take me off track and I have a plan for how to get back on track when they do, drama goes away.
Life is not black and white. I am not someone who exercises everyday or someone who doesn’t. I am smart, resourceful, have a passion for a healthy lifestyle and am willing to do some planning to get my butt to the pool.
We are here to help you.
Contact Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group for support with staying on-goal.