I had a great chat with a client this week who was struggling to stick to her behaviour change goals that we had set. We had already identified that she was using snacking as a “pick me up” in order to elevate her low mood, and we had set some conservative steps in order to create an environment for change.
Despite this, she was struggling to make these changes stick.
When this happens it is never to be seen as a failure.
Peeling the onion further actually leads us to the real underlying patterns and it is this information that actually holds the key to long term change.
For this client, it was Overwhelm.
Between kids, job, pets, household responsibilities and more; she was completely Overwhelmed and leaning heavily on her coping strategies to get by.
When we are in this state of Overwhelm it is hard to stay in the Present moment. Our mind constantly flits to the Future - thinking about the next task, the consequences of not getting ‘x’ done and more.
But it is hard to get anything done if you are outside of the Present. By focusing on the Present, you can zero in on the task at hand and get that done. But how do you stay there if you keep feeling that by doing ‘x’ you are neglecting ‘y’?
Step 1 is acknowledging this and identifying that this issue is present.
Step 2 is building a realistic solution.
For this client we sought to build a “to do list” including work, personal time, responsibilities and then used an Eisenhower Matrix to place items in order of Priority (sweep right to see an example Matrix).
The Eisenhower Matrix uses 4 boxes:
- Urgent & Important
- Important & Not Urgent
- Urgent & Not Important
- Not Urgent & Not Important
By using this system, we can establish the most important tasks and then bring our focus to one task. By doing this we can temporarily release ourselves from the remaining items on the list. Easing that feeling of Overwhelm.
We are not ignoring everything else. We are simply accepting that at any one moment in time we can do one thing if we are going to going to do it well.
By focusing on this one task we can actually do a much better job of it and complete it to a level that we are happy with. This allows us to tick it off the list and move on to the next task.
If you struggle with building habits or making positive changes stick, ask yourself what is the underlying cause of the problem.