60,000-79,999 SparkPoints 67,478

Turtle Steps

Monday, January 28, 2013

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:
emoticon standing up.
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!

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hi Warm, How are you doing? I am just stopping by to say hi and catch up on blogs. Hope all is going well and that you are doing well on the magic number of 4
    1902 days ago
    Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    1903 days ago
    We are true purple sisters, indeed!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    I LOVE "turtle steps". Baby steps have been proven, over and over again, as psychological wins. If turtling is an incremental part of babying, that's fine too because you're MAKING PROGRESS.

    Turtling is part of SMART Goaling;
    - you divide the annual goal into 12 monthly steps with benchmarks;
    - divide the 12 into 4 to get your weekly goals;
    - divide the weekly into daily,
    - and divide the daily into several routines, like FlyLady's Morning, After (after noon or after work or school), and Before Bed routines. Each of the bullet points on each of the routines, or each whole routine when you graduate to that point, could be similar to turtling.

    It's all about mindfulness, i.e. Intentional Living. If sitting down is what it takes to make you more mindful of what you're eating, which also worked for me, then this should work for you (or you'll at least learn alot from the exercise - which will also be progress).

    I use FlyLady's pampering missions, the free ones such as deep breathing, or hand & foot massage with lotion, or lighting a candle, as rewards. I try to do a reward for each Routine I complete. I like the thought of tea, with or without a candle.

    Good habits are formed the SAME WAY bad ones are: by repetition and reward.
    1905 days ago
    love it! may all your writing be purple! :D
    1909 days ago
  • LINDAF49
    Thank you so much for sharing...I could really relate to you loving the color purple but be aware that purple ink tends to "Bleed" over time and the paper of the journal may not be readable after a year or two so might want the purple exterior but blue or black ink emoticon .
    But I did copy this , simplified it and put it into MY journal to think on and maybe to do... I read so many good ideas and only certain ones make the first cut and then only a few of them get put into practice...I like the emphasis on small, doable and real rewards actually given! Please let us know about your purple pen collection. I used PURPLE finger cushions to put on my pens as a reward once...still have them! [The soft things you put on your pen to the arthritis fingers don't hurt so soon when writing much.] emoticon
    1909 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/30/2013 8:48:28 AM
  • KITT52
    you but a lot of thought into this

    I hope it works for you....

    I reward myself with my favorite tea too....it is a two fold reward for me....I love the tea and it make me feel like I have eaten something yummy , thus I eat less calories.....

    have a healthy day
    1909 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    Sounds like you have really thought this out, I hope it goes well for you x
    1909 days ago
    emoticon Here's to purple pens & 4 day wins!

    1909 days ago
    I love hearing about this. The standing-up goal is perfect. Please keep me posted . I have some special spark points to reward you with a lovely SparkGoodie at the end of these four days.
    1910 days ago
    Rewards are SO important. I have the opposite of your problem though--if I want something I generally get it and its hard to make myself wait until I get a goal done or something. I feel like, "It's my money, why wouldn't I get so-and-so if I want it." But I'm really trying not to do that, so I can reward myself.
    1910 days ago
    That seems easy enough. I might just have to give it a try myself.
    1910 days ago
    Great info, thanx for sharing. By the way, CONGRATS on the weight loss.
    1910 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.