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Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Year of Better Decisions

Happy New Year 2016
This year I didn't make the typical New Year's Resolution. No S.M.A.R.T. goals. No deadlines. No stretch goals to challenge myself. None of the conventional goal setting practices. None of the typical goal setting techniques have ever worked very well for me. Instead I came up with a unique approach. Well, but maybe just in synthesis, but not quite unique in concept. I actually borrowed from two books; Taming Your Outer Child by Susan Anderson, and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and John David Mann.
The first book hypothesizes that there are three parts to your psyche: the rational adult, an inner child that just wants happiness, and an outer child that acts out behaviors to get happiness, but is confused by what is and is not appropriate. The trick is to get the rational adult to recognize when the outer child is acting up ("I want that cupcake!") and train the outer child to deal with the world in manner more appropriate to the goals of the inner child.
The second book claims that our everyday small actions and habits have a compounding effect over time. Bad small habits (like cupcakes) compound into big problems (like body fat.) Good small habits (like maybe fruit instead of cupcakes) compound into great results (like less fat.)
Tying these two concepts together, I came up with "The Year of Better Decisions", a process I synthesized for myself. The adult part of my psyche will make the effort to recognize the bad habits of the outer child and instead direct activity toward a better alternative. No long term willpower is needed, because 1) it's about rational decisions, and 2) it only happens in the moment, not in the future. So far it seems to be working (but it's only been 2 weeks). For example, sitting here at my desk, I have I a can of seltzer water I'm drinking. When I'm done I could just leave it here to accumulate as I often do, or I could take with me when I'm done to put it in the recycling. Which is the adult, rational decision? The decisions are often just that easy, and the benefits do tend to accumulate, even over two weeks. I haven't made a commitment to always taking my cans to the recycling bin forever, just for the moment.
A resolution to exercise every day for the year can be daunting. A rational decision to choose exercise over watching TV tonight is a different matter. A resolution to get up every day on time is difficult. A decision to get out of bed today instead of hitting snooze is just a single decision in the moment. The trick is to keep making that decision every time it comes up. It's a completely different viewpoint from the typical resolution, and much more manageable.
Maybe this idea will help you, and maybe it's just me. Happy New Year!
Image 2016 courtesy of krishna arts and FreeDigitalPhotos.com

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