I'm all about making things as easy as possible, but our brains like to do just the opposite.
You may be thinking about changing a non-productive behavior when your brain chimes in "Again? Remember last time?"
Maybe we push through that nagging voice, start changing a behavior, only to then hear:
Good start, I guess. But I doubt you keep it going. And if you're not perfect, well, you may as well give up.
Woah, why are we so hard on ourselves? In aiming for positive behavior change, we're going to work against ourselves, and that's helpful to know. We'll shame ourselves for prior "failures," we'll blame ourselves for not getting it right this time, and we'll feel anxious that we may never get it "right."
But it doesn't have to be like this. It's not that serious. Instead of feeling blame, shame, and anxiety, we can instead get curious and run an experiment.
Run an experiment?
Yeah, run an experiment.
My science-minded, beautiful, and brilliant girlfriend Andie pointed out to me at this point while editing my article (did I just break the fourth wall?!) that it’s worth mentioning that a paramount aspect of a successful experiment is to only manipulate one variable at a time. This is something I often struggle with, so maybe that’s why I hadn’t mentioned it here. As exciting as it can be to change everything at once, we won’t be able to find clarity in the data of our experiments to know what is working, and what isn’t if we change everything all at once. So start small, and start with one variable (change).
Now back into it...
What mindset do you bring when you're doing something new?
I wonder what would happen if...
Let's try this and see how it goes...
Maybe doing this, this, and this would work well. Let's see...
Experiments are open, creative, and finite.
The finite part is really important here. We don't have to attach ourselves to a certain outcome or commit to doing something forever, we're just testing it out to see what works and what doesn't. When we bring the experimenter's mindset to our own behavior change, we eliminate shame and instead introduce curiosity, creativity, and joy.
Thinking about doing keto? Try it for a weekend, or maybe for a week. Don't commit to doing something you don't know will work for you forever.
Thinking you want to read more? Try reading more for the next few days. After a few days, step back and evaluate the experiment. What went well? What didn't go so well? If you were to tweak the experiment and do it again, what would you change?
Wanting to exercise more? Try exercising five more minutes than you're used to for five days. Try different types of movements. At the end of five days, check in. What movements went well? How was your energy affected or not? Did you feel good after exercise? If you were to run a second experiment, how might it differ?
Without setting an end date, we set ourselves up for a day in which we feel we've given up. Instead of it feeling like the experiment didn't work, we instead feel that we quit on ourselves. If we just whimsically decide to be keto and then decide weeks later that it isn't working, it feels less like an experiment and more like we just can't stick to what we set our minds to.
Set our minds to...remember when I shared that our brain (or our mind) is working against us...so of course rigidly "setting our minds" to something isn't going to work.
Experiment first. See what works well and what doesn't. Adjust variables as need be. Then, once you've had fun experimenting and know what works well for you, commit.
Committing before we know what works well for us doesn't work.
Introduce wonder, curiosity, and creativity. Run experiments.