Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unless Your Goal Is to Stop Picking Your Nose, Take Baby Steps

I am not a life coach, but I play one on TV.

OK, that was a lie.

I was only on TV one time, and I was making a fool of myself at the time.  No one who saw it would take any advice from me.

Regardless, I do know a thing or two that may be of some help to a few folks out there.

This time of year, lots of people are making lots of resolutions.  I'm not one of them, but I know lots of people are.  I'm not against new year's resolutions, I simply don't feel the need to change something about myself based on the day of the year.  I change things when I see that some things need changing.

To the helpful part...

Of the many people making resolutions, I'm going to say that at least 85% will give it up within a few weeks.  (Yes, Kellie, I completely pulled that statistic out of thin air.) It's not that people's intentions aren't good.  People just don't know how to make resolutions in order to be successful.

Back when I taught 5th grade, the kids would give things up for Lent.  I encouraged them to not just give up things like candy, but to find something that they could do to better themselves.  A majority of kids would always say, "I will stop fighting with my siblings."

I knew for a fact that none of them would actually succeed in these promises, so I came up with some steps to help them figure out things they could actually do.

Step 1:  Make a general statement of what you want to improve.  In the case of my students, an example of the general statement was "stop fighting with my sister".

Step 2:  Name a specific time/problem area to narrow down the general statement.   For the kids that wanted to stop fighting with a sibling, I told them to think about their days.  When did they fight with their siblings the most?  Was it when they were getting ready for school?    In the car?  Downtime after school?

Step 3:  Focus only on that one time/problem area to make a change.  Basically, I was guiding them to make a small step towards their larger, more general goal.  A student could then resolve to stop fighting with his sister when riding in the car.  Totally doable.

Step 4:  Make a plan of what you will do to replace your current behavior.  It's well and good to say, "I won't fight with my sister in the car," but when he is actually in the car, how will the student avoid it?  In order to be successful, he must have a plan on what to do instead.  Let's say the student realized he fought with his sister because he was bored.  He can then come up with something to do to avoid boredom.  He could keep a book or some other solitary activity in the car.  Or he could find something they could both enjoy, like a game of 20 questions.  Having a plan of go-to activities will go a long way to being successful.

Step 5:  Once you have mastered that one small step, make a plan to take another step.  What is another thing you can do to get closer to the general goal you made?

These steps can work with just about any resolution.  Don't resolve to simply eat healthier.  Be specific.    What is a specific problem area?  Fast food at lunch?  Snacking at night?  Not eating breakfast?  Name it and and make a plan for that one, small bit.  What one behavior will you replace in order to get closer to your general goal of healthy eating?

Don't resolve to spend less money.  When do you find yourself spending the most?  Impulse buys at the grocery store?  Online shopping?  Killing time, waiting to pick kids up from school?  Name it and change one thing.  Find something else to replace the unwanted behavior. 

Don't simply say, "I'm going to be better about keeping the house clean/decluttered."  Name one area that you can change/do something about, then make a plan to be successful.

I have used these steps myself several times to make changes in my life.  I'm not going to bore you with the details, but I'll tell you that it worked.

By and large, there is no reason for people to make huge, extreme changes.  It's overwhelming and depressing to do so.  Which means changes won't get made.  Why do that to ourselves? 

Progress is all we need.  Keep the end goal in mind, but take little steps to get there.  Little, doable steps to keep us in a positive state of mind and on the right path.

Unless your resolution is to stop picking your nose.  Do that all in one fell swoop.

Have a lovely day!


  1. Good advice, no matter what day of the year it is.

  2. Do you think my resolution for complete world domination is a bit too broad?

    1. Perhaps start with one country. Perhaps a little European one? Although, if you can take control of Australia, with all of its deadly creatures, you are home free! Good luck!

  3. Fab stuff. I will bear your tips in mind. I like the 'breaking it down' idea...I'd not thought of that.

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  5. For the lack of an edit button, let's try this again:
    Just what I needed to read today. Thank you! "Overwhelming" is my middle name and I'm trying to get it changed.
    And if you have any advice at getting someone else to stop picking his nose, do share. Please.

    Glad to have found your blog through the Considerer. ;)

    1. :)
      I'm glad you found it useful. I hope you find a way to feel less overwhelmed. It is not a fun way to live.
      Sounds like we're in the same boat. I wish I could get a certain person or two to leave their noses alone!

    2. Oh, and I forgot to say thanks for stopping by. The Considerer is one lovely lady, isn't she?


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