Chances are that you have tried to meet goals and fix your life through behavioral change. I will eat less, I will study more, I will work harder, I will not get mad at people and yell. The problem with these resolutions is that everything depends on yourself. These promises you make to yourself don't take into account outside factors like birthday parties, busy days, the powerful pull of Facebook, or WHY you get mad. The sad truth is, you are not self-disciplined enough to tackle all of that stuff on your own all at once. You might be able to make behavioral changes very slowly over time, but NEVER quickly and hardly ever without outside influence.
Enter Structural Change
Instead of depending solely on your own self-discipline, why don't you arrange your surroundings to encourage better behavior? I used to resolve to read more books, but the reality was I only BOUGHT books, and I would never have time to read all of my books at the rate I was buying them. I was setting myself up for failure. I was spending FAR more time on Facebook than I was reading, yet I told myself I "didn't have time" to read. After I got married and quit my job, I didn't feel so free to buy every book I wanted. Facebook paled in comparison to my new exciting life. Consequently, I started actually reading my books instead of just buying more.
Likewise, I can't believe how many people trying to lose weight keep chocolate and marshmallows in their home. Then they try to find the closest parking spot at Walmart, take the elevator instead of the stairs, and choose to watch TV instead of enjoying fresh air on a walk or bike ride. A few simple changes, and this fat guy could be a skinny guy!
If you find yourself getting upset at certain times, could there be a way to prevent it? A few months ago, I realized every Sunday before church I would get ticked off. Why? Because Hubs expected to leave at least 30 minutes beforehand at 9:30 and get there "on time". My expectation was that it takes 15 minutes to get there; we could leave at 9:50 and still get there "on time". Hubs would ask me, "Are you ready to go?" at 9:15, when I did not even have breakfast on the table. Obviously, this was frustrating. But instead of getting mad every Sunday morning, I now plan a short, easy breakfast. I feed my goats while he is sometimes still in bed, and make sure I am ready plentyyy early enough. Instead of relying on my own internal goodness to "not get mad", I just did Sunday mornings a little different* so now there is no reason to get mad.
What goals do you have for this year? Are there any simple structural changes you could make to your lifestyle? Could you make a few tweaks to your grocery list, change up your schedule, add a new habit? Or maybe drop a bad habit? Maybe this year is calling for some structural change- some boundaries, some rules.
Lifestyle design- structural change- is something I think will be discussed a lot on this blog in 2015. I'm currently working on a new tool for myself that will save me time and money, and improve my health...effortlessly. Hopefully I'll be able to share it next month, around the time that everyone's self-discipline fails. :)
*Now clearly I am not perfect and not every Sunday morning is perfect. But if things go wrong, I simply make last-minute structural changes (like a simpler hairstyle or easier breakfast) instead of getting mad.
What structural changes have you made and benefited from?
What changes do you want to make happen this year?