Four Days - it's the magic number to change your life. There is curious power in the number 4. Four days of doing something breaks through the feeling of being a novice to make you think of the activity as something I do. As you begin creating four day wins, you can begin linking them together. This allows you to handle a large undertaking. This is the premise of the book "The Four Day Win" by Martha Beck, PhD.
The first exercise outlined in this book is to create a 4-day win:
Step 1: Pick a goal - mine is to cut out mindless eating and junk food after dinner.
Good goal, right? Well, I thought so, but I was informed that this goal isn't useful. Really? No, because I'm not doing it yet! I've been trying to do it for some time and if it worked, it would already be a habit.
Next step: Lower your sights to "turtle steps." A turtle step is defined as "a single trowelful of earth, an action that takes me toward my goal but is so easy that I know for sure I can do it."
Step 2: Play halvsies until your goal is ridiculously easy to attain.
This made me think. How do I half a goal that can't really be measured? I contemplated where, how and why most of this mindless eating happens. Most of it happens:
So, in order to half my goal and make it ridiculously easy, I have not told myself I cannot eat junk food in the evening, or eat extra calories above my calorie limit.
I have determined that I can eat whatever I want, but I must SIT DOWN to eat it. This is my turtle step.
Step 3: Identify a reward
Rewards are not my forte! Far from it! I promise myself rewards, then don't carry through. Or I tell myself that reaching my goal and seeing results is reward enough - you know, the reward in a job well done idea.
I pondered myself into a reward of a hot cup of tea in the evening before bed. I enjoy this in the winter. If I manage to sit down for everything I eat after dinner, I can have a cup of tea before going to bed. If I eat standing up, no hot tea that night.
Step 4: Identify a 4-day reward
Slightly larger - be generous. Hmm - this is tough - a generous reward that does not take a great deal of money and does not involve food. I love purple. I love purple pens. I've been craving a purple pen for my journal. When I achieve this goal four days in a row, a purple pen will be my reward.
Step 5: Make sure the action and the reward are linked.
"If you meet your ridiculously easy daily goals, you absolutely must give yourself the reward. Same with your 4-day goal. You must also resist the temptation to give yourself the reward if you don't meet your goal. If you do all this and you still don't take any action, reduce the task, increase the reward, or do both, until you start moving."
Finally: write it down, post it in three places and check each day off as you achieve your goal.
I'm off for a 4-day win by turtle steps!