Chip and Dan Heath have written an excellent book, Switch, on how to make change easy. I found plenty of ways to apply their ideas and strategies to help you make the transition from a life on the treadmill to one with joyful intermissions of Mini-Retreats. The Heath’s borrow Jonathan Haidt’s analogy of three players that are involved in making and preventing change:
1. The Elephant: our emotions
2. The Rider: our intellect
3. The Path: our environment
Ideally, we want to create a situation where the elephant is providing the power to move forward, the rider is steering the course and the path is clear for rider and elephant to move forward. However, for that to happen we need to know what is standing in the way of creating the change we want to accomplish: is it knowledge, motivation or too many obstacles on the path ahead?
Direct the Rider
1.”Script the Critical Moves”: Think of specific situations and turn these into opportunities for Mini-Retreats:
* Red-Light Relaxer: every time you stop at a red traffic light, relax, take a deep breath, role back your shoulders, smile.
* Refresh with Water: every time you take a sip of water, relax and imagine how the water is replenishing your energy.
* Wash Away Your Worries: every time you wash your hands, imagine all your worries washing off and draining down the sink with the water.
2. “Point to the Destination”: Change is easier when you know where you are going and why it is worth it. Here are a few destination points my clients have identified for themselves:
* “I will be a good listener.”
* “I will live up to my creative potential.”
* “I will be an inspiration for my kids.”
* “I will be in control.”
Think about the destination that will inspire you to take Mini-Retreats and write it down.
Motivate the Elephant
3. “Shrink the Change”: Break down the change until it no longer intimidates the Elephant. Lucia Terra, a reader of The Mini-Retreat Solution says: “I had always found I was too busy to take a break because I thought I needed to free one or two hours of my time. That almost never happened. With the “Mini-Retreat Solution” there aren’t any excuses anymore: even if you only have a couple of minutes, you can take any of the ideas presented in the book and take a break at home, at work or even during your commute!”
Shape the Path
4. “Tweak the Environment”: When the situation changes, the behavior changes. Take a good look at your environment, your workplace, your home and your car. Notice the things in your environment that help you relax, appreciate them and keep them. Then take a second to notice the things that make you feel stressed and look at how you can eliminate or tweak those.
Here are a few examples that work well for me:
* I got rid of the alarm sound that announces a new e-mail in my in-box. It helps me focus on my work and I now check e-mail when I choose to.
* I turn my phone ringer on mute every night before I go to bed. I am never disturbed in my sleep and check my messages in the morning when it’s convenient.
5. “Build Habits”: When behavior is habitual, it’s “free” – it doesn’t tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits such as setting action triggers. Here are a few examples:
* A post-it note on your steering wheel that says “relax” or “breathe”
* A reminder in your Outlook calendar
* Associate a specific activity with taking Mini-Retreats (e.g. taking a shower, eating, washing your hands).
6. “Rally the Herd”: Behavior is contagious; help spread it. Take Mini-Retreats together with your partner, family and friends.
When my partner John and I are halted by a red light, usually one of us suggests “time for a Mini-Retreat”. We both laugh, smile at each other and relax.
When you turn chores into Mini-Retreats and relax while doing the dishes or folding the laundry, family members around you will notice your calm energy and it will impact them in a positive way. When you relax while spending time with your kids, they in turn will be more relaxed and less cranky.
Let’s spread the Mini-Retreat way of life!
Julia James, CPCC, PCC, M.Sc. is a multi-lingual certified life coach, award-winning author and International speaker. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance in their lives through individual coaching and workshops. Author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution and the audio CD series, Guided Mini-Retreats for Busy People, she provides tools to manage stress effectively and to relax and re-energize quickly. Julia has been featured on Joy TV, CBC News, as well as in The Globe & Mail, Glow Magazine, BC Business Magazine and The Vancouver Observer. For more information visit: https://www.juliajames.ca