by Tim Tibbitts
“We either live with intention or exist by default.”—Kristin Armstrong
Too often we assume that, in order to make progress on a complicated problem, we have to come up with complicated or elaborate solutions. This form of all-or-nothing thinking can lead to delay, inaction, and defaulting to continuing patterns we don’t like. What if making one small change could make—or could lead to—a bigger change? Worth a try, right?
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say I’m having trouble getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. I’m in the habit of staying downstairs watching TV too late. When I do go up to bed, I’m in the habit of getting caught up scrolling on my phone. And then there’s all that research that shows the blue light keeps our brains amped, which makes sense because I'm often struggling to fall asleep.
A complex challenge built on a pile of habits? Maybe. But is a complex solution required? Maybe not.
Here’s what I tried: I decided to set my alarm for the morning on my phone before heading upstairs, then to leave my phone outside my bedroom door.
It's not foolproof—sometimes the temptation to check sports scores, a news update, or one last email is too great. However, making this one small change, creating one new habit, has helped to bring about a shift in a number of my habits. Most nights, I now leave my phone outside the bedroom door, and I often find myself reading before bed. And I don't think it's a coincidence that most nights, I'm also having an easier time getting to sleep on time.
How about you? What are some patterns you’ve been struggling to manage? It could be getting homework started earlier, managing social media use, making time for self-care, or something else. No matter your struggle, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about one small habit that could help to shift the balance. It can't hurt to give it a try! Decide on and cultivate one small habit and stick with it every day for 28 days, then see what happens. I'd love to hear from you about your results!