We all have those tasks we dread doing. They are hard to start. They are hard to finish. They make us grumpy while we do them. When I am struggling through one of these tasks I take a page straight from the children's character, Mary Poppins. I try to find the spoon full of sugar. I look for something that makes the necessary enjoyable.
As many of us are continuing or even restarting our resolution we have identified the reason we did not make this change before. It is hard. As discussed in Honoring Commitments to Yourself (plenitudeco.com), you are worth the change. You are worth starting over again. This time try finding a way to make the hardest part less painful. Her are some tips to make it more manageable.
1. Beyond the Why
In Resolution - Plan Your Success (plenitudeco.com) we explore the reason you want to make a change. Having a meaningful WHY visible will remind you why this change is important. However, when we struggle or give into temptation, we can feel like we are letting ourselves down. Rather than beat yourself up for what you have not done already try this instead.
When you run into a temptation that wins out over your reason WHY, write it down. You can even write it near your WHY. Now dig deep and think about why that temptation was so powerful. Think about another way you could have gotten through the temptation with a reward on the other side. Write that “sugar” next to the temptation. Here is an example.
Goal and WHY: “I want to lose 25 lbs. because I want to reduce my risk of diabetes and be able to have energy to play with my children.”
Temptation: “I ate a birthday cake and ice cream at a party this weekend.”
The REAL Sugar: “Next time I avoid the cake and ice cream at a party I will reward myself with new earrings. Next time I am tempted I will take the kids for a walk or play a game.”
By being honest about what temptation could interrupt your WHY and building a reward and a plan to tackle that challenge you will increase your chance of success the next time it comes up. Stop looking at these moments as failures and excuses keeping you from real change. Find the spoonful of REAL sugar.
2. Identify What Feeds You
On the road to progress, you may not be looking to overcome a temptation. You may be struggling with mundane of a routine. You may be struggling with what I call the “Can’t Want Tos.” Keep track of these moments. Write down the moments when you know you should be doing something, but you just did not have the fortitude to follow through.
Again, write this near you reason WHY. This is a task you find draining. It is something you may do out of necessity, but it is not something that feeds you. Think about something you would have enjoyed doing instead. That is a task that feeds you. Try to find a way to pair task that drain you with tasks that feed you. It can also help to put a time limit on the draining task. Here is an example.
Goal and WHY: “I want to work out five days a week to build muscle and improve my health.”
Draining Task: “I do not enjoy stretching at the end of my workout.”
Pair with Sugar: “I will start listening to my favorite podcast for the 15 minutes I stretch after a workout.”
When we identify the tasks, we do not enjoy we can find a way to make them more palatable. Set a time limit and add something you enjoy. You may find these are tasks you start to look forward to. Sweeten the deal to keep yourself on track.
3. Plan Your Day with Sugar
Just as we all have tasks that are draining to us, there are also tasks we enjoy doing. These are the things we do that we get excited for and amp us up – your “sugar.” As you move through your day start to identify those tasks for yourself. Make a note of tasks you avoid and tasks you jump right into.
When you look at your morning To-Do List and your schedule for the day note the tasks you are looking forward to and the tasks you dread. This can be something as simple as a smiley face or frowny face on each. You can also use color coding to identify them. Then, break up your day by setting a specific amount of time for the draining tasks that deplete you. Mix in the tasks that energizes and feed you. Here is an example.
5:00 Wake up ☹ (Listen to favorite Album)
5:30 Cardio 😊
6:00 Strength Training 😊
6:30 Stretching ☹ (Listen to favorite Podcast)
7:00 Shower and Get Dressed 😊
8:00 Emails ☹ (Continue favorite Podcast)
9:00 Journal/Reflection 😊
9:30 Review Daily Reports 😊
Planning your day with sugar and adding what feeds you, it is easy to build a day-to-day schedule that helps you go beyond the why. Making those plans to avoid temptations or destructive behavior will compound your ability to drive the change you want to see in yourself. Using this method, you may find you have more energy and focus throughout the day.