When you think about how most people try and approach a goal, more often than not one of three things will happen. They’ll either go at it full throttle, they’ll procrastinate and get stuck – or they’ll start by going at it full throttle and then get stuck!
Some people are definitely better suited to the ‘go big or go home’ approach which habits guru and author of Better Than Before, Gretchen Ruben would describe as a ‘blast start’.
However, for many of the women I’ve worked with they’ll try this blast start approach and then find that they ping back to the way things were before, sometimes in an even worse way.
The temptation of a blast start and the full throttle approach is that it’s immediately motivating and you can often see results or progress quite quickly. However, for more than a lucky few self sabotage can creep in, you’ll face resistance and then a feeling of failure.
In the past I would have definitely considered myself a fan of the blast start and in most cases I could just make a decision to do something and then being able to do it. But as I’ve grown older I face a lot more resistance to this kind of approach, and as I looked back over last year and review my goals I can really see the areas I have and haven’t made progress.
Of course it’s no secret that small sustainable changes are a good way to go when approaching goals whether linked to your wellbeing or not – but why is that approach so hard too? For me, and what I’ve seen in the women I work with, the reason why slow and steady doesn’t work is because we don’t even attempt that approach believing that those tiny actions couldn’t possibly lead to the results or the end goal we’re after.
The blast start offers motivation and a bit of all or nothing which can be very tempting and feels ‘easier’ even when in the long term it actually isn’t.
So how can we use all of this and actually start making positive changes in our lives?
I’m embracing something which I’ve heard Mel Robbins call ‘micro actions’ – essentially that slow and steady approach, however I’m adding a few wholehearted tricks to it that will hopefully make it stick more for me and you!
Remember this might stop you self sabotaging
First things first, we might all need a reminder why micro actions are so powerful and the biggest reason for me is that when you use micro actions you’re so much less likely to trigger self sabotage. When I teach what self sabotage is in my Mindset Makeover Course I talk about how self sabotage is often triggered by big bold actions because those set off your brain’s self protection mechanisms, often in ways that aren’t logical. For example, if you decide to start a 5 work out a week plan, but your brain sees exercise as something that has caused you embarrassment and shame in the past, that could lead to actions that would be deemed as self sabotaging. But start with maybe just one workout, or even one walk a week, and you sneak under the radar of your brain. I know that probably sounds a bit crazy but honestly this works!
The results with a blast start are an illusion
You need to remind yourself that although the blast start might get you results initially, it’s not going to in the long term. It’s an illusion a lot of us are sold, and to make micro actions work we have to remind ourselves that for us, that go big or go home approach doesn’t work.
Positive aspects journal
I would also pair this up with my positive aspects journal so that you’re consciously placing some emphasis on those micro actions and reminding yourself of their impact. The shifts and changes you see with micro actions might be smaller than with a blast start, but acknowledging them gives you added motivation to continue with them.
Accountability and support are always helpful, think about where can you find that? It maybe from friends and family or from a Facebook Group like mine! (sign up for The Library below and you’ll get an invite!)
Mantras and affirmations
You could even add in some mantras or affirmations – something like ‘every small step I take is getting me closer to my goal’ – or something less cheesy than this!
What might a micro action look like?
- One workout a week
- One meditation session a week
- One yoga class a month
- Saving £10 a month
- Eating a vegetable based meal once a week
- Going for one 10 minute jog a week
- One phone call or email a week towards a career goal
The idea is that these micro actions shouldn’t be scary. Once you’ve calibrated yourself to your micro action, i.e. it’s become ingrained and very easy, then it might be time to add another micro action or to increase it.
I’d also say that it’s worth not trying to overload yourself with too many actions or else you just end up doing all the things and negating the effect. I’d choose 1-3 micro actions in different life areas to get started, for example one movement action, one money action and one food action.
One of my goals for this year is to get fitter and although I do have a gym habit it’s not consistent. One of my micro goals is to go to the gym once a week. I know that’s totally doable, and by saying my aim is once a week rather than 3 times a week it means that I’ll feel a sense of achievement after going once, and even more if I go twice or three times. If I set my action as 3 times a week and only managed once though I’d probably feel like a failure and then go into f**k it mode!
I hope this post has given you some things to think about when it comes to your own goals and intentions!
What are your thoughts on micro actions? Will you be joining me in trying out micro actions?
I really like this approach as you are making small but achievable steps instead of worrying about huge things which are unobtainable and then you get put off easily. I am going to try to save a bit more money- and I think I like the idea of small things, so when I resist buying something (eg something small like a chai latte when I’m out) then I need to transfer that money into savings right away- those small bits should add up.