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Four Day Wins

August 6, 2009

You want to start running. You want to start cooking meals at home. You want to start living on a budget. You want to start meditating. You want to build your own robotic husband.

Unfortunately, as grand as these plans are in that amazing and imaginative mind of yours, you haven’t taken any action on your dreams. At all. In six years.

I have a suggestion. Try a four day win. (I’m blatantly stealing this concept from Martha Beck, by whom I was taught to be a life coach.)

Here’s the deal: break it down! If your goal is to run a marathon but you’re currently so lazy you drive to the end of your driveway to pick up your mail, you’re not going to attempt to run 26.2 miles next Tuesday. You’re going to break your training into small, manageable goals. Or maybe you’ll try to take on every single thing this very second. That usually quickly spells burn out and failure. Which is why, again, I’m going to suggest trying a four day win.

Recently I noticed I was slacking on my breathing exercises and meditating. Instead of telling myself I needed to get back to it and do it at least twenty minutes per day no matter what, I decided to break it down and design a four day win for it. Actually, I’m totally fibbing to you, I’m so sorry. What really happened is that I kept telling myself, “tomorrow you will sit down at nine am and spend time meditating and relaxing and deep breathing, dammit!!!” Instead of doing it, I would read blogs or watch TV. That is, until I was coached by my good buddy, another Martha Beck Trained Coach, who told me I needed a four day win. Thank goodness for life coaching!

I knew I needed to pick a really small goal that felt easy and attainable. I chose to pick a teeny tiny increment of time to get back into breathing and meditating: two minutes. Don’t scoff! That may seem incredibly small, but I’m only going to do this for four days, then I’ll increase my time.

The thing that makes a four day win really work are the rewards. Each day you get a reward, but only if you complete your task. Pick something small each day, and on the final, fourth day, give yourself something slightly larger.

The prize will vary depending on your budget. You may give yourself a new diamond tennis bracelet each day you achieve your goal for the first three days and get yourself a Thoroughbred racehorse on the fourth day. Me, I’m a little more restrained than that. My reward for the first three days of meditating and breathing for only two minutes a day is that I get to read my favorite blogs. Yes, this is something I do on a daily basis anyways, but by using it as my reward I am very motivated to practice meditating, because I want to read my blogs! On my fourth day I get to buy a trashy gossip mag that I’ll only read in the privacy of my home.

After I complete the first four days, I set a second four day win. This goal will be slightly more intense, like four minutes of meditating and breathing. Again, I get a small reward the first three days and a bigger reward the final day. I keep linking four day wins until I’m meditating the amount of time I want to each day and it becomes a habit, not something I need to reward myself for.

I’m only on my second day of this process, but this morning I did my breathing and meditating first thing in the morning, because I was motivated. And I actually did it for three minutes, because it was so relaxing! I’ve used this method successfully for many things in the past, and I’ll continue to turn to it in the future.

You can use this tool whatever what feels most comfortable for you. If you want to start an exercise plan, start very, very small. Think about how many minutes per day you want to exercise. Then cut it in half. And then again. I’m not kidding. If you tell yourself you want to exercise 40 minutes every day you might do it…a couple times. Even if you tell yourself to exercise 20  minutes a day it can be overwhelming if you’ve been sitting on the couch for so long your cat gets lodged in your butt print. That’s why I suggest cutting it down even more. 10 minutes a day of exercise? You can do that! Take a walk on your lunch break. Do jumping jacks while you watch bad reality TV. And be absolutely sure to reward yourself every.single.day.

Try it! Starting small may seem like a cop out, but believe me, it’s better than the nothing you’re likely to do if you try to bite off too much. And we all really, really want you to invent that robotic husband. Please.

Be Joyful!

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