Resolution 4 - Use the upward spiral

Published by Lori Pickert on January 7, 2011 at 02:51 PM

Many people are familiar with the downward spiral — make one bad decision or acquire one bad habit, and suddenly you find yourself on a negative slide.

Bad choices tend to exert influence on other choices until you’re in a downward spiral, with things going wrong everywhere.

People are less familiar with its positive twin, the upward spiral.

After you’ve unpacked your big resolution and broken it down into its component parts, after you’ve chosen one thing to concentrate on, you may find that success with just that one part starts slanting things in your favor with the other parts ... You may find yourself in an upward spiral.

Our example resolution: Lose 20 pounds.


— exercise more

— eat more healthy food

— eat less junk food

— drink more water


How the upward spiral works:

You start walking every day after lunch.

When you get back from your walk, you find that you want a glass of water. It’s easy to drink water, because your body is demanding it and it actually sounds good to you. You are drinking more water.

Because you have a glass of water, you don’t have a can of Diet Coke. You are consuming fewer junk calories.

Because you exercised — and you also drank one fewer can of soda, so had less caffeine — you sleep better that night.

Because you get more sleep, you feel great the next day. You have more energy than usual, and you find it easier to go on that walk.

And so on.

The upward spiral isn’t the domino effect — it doesn’t just knock over all your other goals for you. However, it does exert pressure on them, so you don’t have to do all the work.

One success makes your other tasks easier.

Not only does one success suddenly slant everything in your favor, but experiencing some success makes you feel more successful, makes you feel more confident about having future success. Your attitude changes. You realize things are more achievable than you thought, and you can create change in your life.

How this might help your goal to have your children do more self-directed learning:

You start using your project journal everyday. You observe your children at play and at conversation during meals, and you write it down. Your children ask what you're up to, and you explain you're interested in what they're doing. Because you're paying attention, they give their play/work more attention. They spend three days building a block bridge that they might have abandoned after one play session if you weren't so interested. They're working more deeply. They ask for their own journals. You photograph their bridge and ask them about it, writing more in your journal. You're on your way.

Note: There is no one magical thing that you must do first, no key first step. *Any* positive change is going to improve the outlook for your other goals. Just getting started is the key.

You can use the upward spiral to help yourself make headway on your own goals, but you can also use it to help your children meet their own goals. When their plans become overwhelmingly complex, help them break it down and choose one thing to concentrate on. Help them experience one small success and see how much it changes their outlook.


Resolution 1 — It’s not all or nothing.

Resolution 2 — Break it down.

Resolution 3 — Take real baby steps.

Resolution 4 — Use the upward spiral.

Resolution 5 — Quit.


Comment by Dawn Suzette on January 8, 2011 at 12:07 AM

Oh, I do love this positive twin.
I found this to be true just last week. I was cleaning out... lots of cleaning out. Throwing away, giving away, organizing... ALL over the house. My thinking? I want to be more organized. I want to make the house easier to clean... a more peacful space for all of us. I want to be a good example for the kids. How can I ask them to keep their room picked up if I have all this stuff packed into corners, etc... The next thing I knew Fionna was cleaning out here part of their room. Throwing away, giving away, organizing. All of her own accord. Wow! Loved that!
Funny how both negative AND positive things rub off on the kids!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 8, 2011 at 04:05 PM

that is awesome how your momentum pulled her in!

it *is* funny how both pos & neg rub off .. we just need to capitalize more on the positive! ;)

Comment by Mags on January 9, 2011 at 04:28 AM

This is a great post. I especially like the part around using the observation journal, the process, very helpful. And as always you are positive and encouraging. Thanks!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 10, 2011 at 02:56 PM

thank YOU, mags. :)

Comment by estea on January 17, 2011 at 06:51 PM

really needed this. upward spiral: love it!

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