Four ways you can organise change. Week one: In time blocks
Hopefully you're following this blog on a weekly basis to better understand how to make meaningful and long term change in your health and life.
Over the next four weeks we're going to describe 4 different ways you can break your goals down to make them more achievable. By now you should have a clear visualisation, your perfect day and your affirmations for your goal. You should have reflected on what part of the cycle of change you may have reached, played around with the brightness and sharpness of your goal’s image, considered all the ways it might change you and charged up your brain’s RAS to flood itself with help and advice. Now we can break it down and today we'll look at how using manageable blocks of time can lead to greater success.
Try to think of your goal in mini cycles, each lasting 3-7 weeks. In an 84 day study at University College, London in 2009, 96 participants were instructed to commence a habit they had struggled with and keep going until it was felt to be automatic. While simple tasks such as drinking an extra glass of water every day were reported as requiring only around 21 days, the majority of tasks seemed to take 66 days before they no longer required forethought. Not all the participants achieved their desired habit change during the study and once the data had been collated, it was theorised that some of the habits could have taken up to 9 months to become second nature. Using this study as a base, why not plan one achievable aspect of your One Big Change and keep going with it. In the words of Aristotle, “Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
To break your goal into time blocks, choose one change that you can achieve every day for example going for a 10 minute walk, eating salad or soup at lunch or cutting out your evening gin and tonic. Decide how long is a manageable time to maintain this for and begin. If it goes wrong or you forget or give in, don’t worry. Just try again the next day and keep going until you get to the end of the specified time. Once you have completed the time, re-measure your change, congratulate yourself on any improvements and decide whether you’re ready for the next change to begin. It’s very important at this stage not to completely relapse, rather consider what would constitute a good quality permanent change from this point. Perhaps salads on 4 days of the week or gin only on weekends.
It's not necessary to incorporate each change fully into your life. By considering the sacrifices you have made against the benefits received over the controlled time block you can make an informed choice about whether this change will bring you closer to your One Big Change.