Four ways to make a change

Published by Lori Pickert on November 14, 2011 at 04:12 PM

Do you wish your family got outside more? Read more? Spent more time making instead of consuming? Spend less time being inspired and more time doing?

Four ways to make a change:

1. Build it into your routine.

Dedicate some time to it. “Every Saturday morning, we’ll take our breakfast to the park.” “Every morning after breakfast, we’ll draw together for ten minutes.” If you don’t make the effort to build it into your routine and commit some time to it, it probably won’t happen.

2. Set positive goals.

Focus on adding, not subtracting. Negative goals: “We need to watch less TV.” “We have to eat less junk food.” Positive goals: “On Friday nights, we’ll make pizza and play board games.” “I’m going to serve fruit for our afternoon snack at least three times a week.”

Negative goals are hard to measure. Are you watching less TV? Are you eating less junk food? Positive goals are much easier to measure. Yes, we went to the park every week this month. Yes, we ate fruit three times a week for snack.

3. Remind yourself.

Your brain is used to your routine, and it rewards you when you do the same thing at the same time (e.g., drinking a Diet Coke at 3:00 every afternoon, turning on your soap opera after lunch, crashing on the couch after dinner). It takes effort to build a new habit — conventional wisdom says at least 21 days. Make it easier by putting reminders everywhere you look — a bowl of fruit in the middle of the table, a pile of board games and art supplies on the coffee table, a handmade poster or inspiration board where you’ll see it every day.

4. Feed what you want to see more of.

Focus your attention and support on the part of your life that you want more of. Don’t worry about squelching what you don’t like — focus on what you value. If you value your children doing authentic artwork, focus on making them a beautiful, well-stocked studio. If you value reading, make your bookshelves and reading nooks beautiful and beckoning and make time to read together every day. If you value great meals together, make them a priority. Focus on aesthetics (making it beautiful) and routine (making it happen regularly).

The parts of your life that you value most deserve most of your attention and effort. When you direct your focus there, you may find that the things you didn’t like begin to fade into the background. Not only will they wither when they get less from you, but you will simply not see them as much — because you’re putting your focus where it belongs, on the things that matter most.

See also: The resolution series — It’s not all or nothing, Break it down, Take real baby steps, Use the upward spiral, and Quit.

7 comments

Comment by amy on November 14, 2011 at 06:01 PM

Excellent advice! When I realized we weren't making as much use of the art/craft area I'd worked so hard to create, I decided we'd make it a habit, that I'd provide materials and a starting point and we'd go from there. I also decided I'd blog about it, because even if nobody ever read it, I thought it would help me make time if I felt accountable to blogging about it. ;) Whatever works! And it did...and it has been so good for all of us.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 14, 2011 at 06:08 PM

that's great to hear, amy. :^) and thank you!

Comment by Sheila Ryan on November 15, 2011 at 12:24 AM

"Focus on adding, not subtracting." Oh, yes.

Comment by shelli on November 15, 2011 at 02:31 PM

This is a great advice. Recently I have started adding housework into my routine. LOL. (You know it's hard with young kids.) But every Monday is "cleaning day" and if the kids help me clean and LET me clean, they get Monday movie night. It's working well. And while cleaning, I reorganized the bookshelves - put some neglected books at the front and the ones they are bored reading near the back. Sure enough, that afternoon my son found a "new" book, and said, "What's this?" Then he asked me to read it to him.

I'm also starting "together time" in the mornings. Starting off the day with reading, playing, being together. It's a good thing.

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 15, 2011 at 02:46 PM

sheila, it works. :^)

thank you, shelli, and thanks for your story!

Comment by se7en on November 15, 2011 at 09:38 PM

This is such a great post... we have used #1 this year to make lots of positive changes... wanted the kids to do more art... straight after breakfast. I wanted the kids to do more map work and geography fun... scheduled that after art. Wanted all of us to spend more time outdoors... lunch outdoors everyday rain or shine... it really worked well!!! Now we don't even think about it so I guess they are habits... now if I could just train myself to get some sleep and exercise then I will be rocking!!!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 16, 2011 at 12:19 AM

you're on your way! :D

my dog committed me to daily exercise — year-round, no matter what the weather. what a revelation. that daily walk in the morning starts every day off right.

as for sleep .. that's almost my top priority! ;^)

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