Author Topic: How do you make positive changes?  (Read 7538 times)

nolajo

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How do you make positive changes?
« on: April 20, 2012, 05:02:04 PM »
So far on the path of Mustachianism, I've been cutting things out of my life, and it's worked pretty well. I don't particularly miss cable and most casual shopping has fallen by the way side. The thing is, it's now time to make some positive changes (both in the sense of good for me and in the sense that they require action rather than inaction) and I'm getting kind of tripped up. Particularly, I'm doing some self-study of a foreign language and trying to cook more regularly - both activities that will improve my life but require probably 30 minutes a day of doing to be effective. Carving that time out is proving to be somewhat problematic and my enthusiasm wanes pretty quickly. I do anticipate that at a certain point I'll be good enough at these things that it doesn't seem so onerous, but getting there seems to be a trick.

Is there a way that you handle this? The chain method? Some other good way to go about it? It may vary a lot from person to person, but I'm looking for breadth of ideas to try and this must be somewhat common as people try to better themselves.

sol

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2012, 05:16:58 PM »
I have this great secret method you should try.

In my sexist and somewhat archaic way, I call it "manning up".

Fetlock

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2012, 08:40:47 PM »
I suspect the real problem isn't time at all. The real problem is that it's not actually fun or important. It is, in fact, boring and unimportant, isn't it?

You don't want to do it. You don't have to do it. So, uh... why are you doing it, again?

I know things aren't really that simple, but please consider that you may be more infatuated with the idea of the activity than the reality of actually doing it.

smedleyb

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2012, 08:43:52 PM »
Are you learning German?  Because it's impossible to speak German and cook good food at the same time. 

No, but seriously, learning a language from the comforts of your living room is tedious, and cooking can seem like work -- especially the clean up.  You might need to channel the desire to do something positive in another direction, like intense workouts, or charity work.  Keep looking.  I'm sure it's out there. 

If that doesn't work, then yes, definitely "man up."

« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 09:31:36 PM by smedleyb »

arebelspy

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2012, 08:44:03 PM »
I have this great secret method you should try.

In my sexist and somewhat archaic way, I call it "manning up".

In a similar vein, though I don't use the phrase myself, I always laugh a little and enjoy when people say you should "nut up".

I don't think that quite applies to what he was asking though.

The chain method (Seinfeld productivity secret) really does work.  Have you tried it?

Also one thing that's effective for a lot of people is changing their habit/routine to make it more automatic.   There are other threads on the forums about setting new habits/routines that you could check out.

There was also a good Lifehacker post semi-related to this yesterday:
http://lifehacker.com/5903077/change-a-habit-in-three-steps-with-this-flowchart
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Fetlock

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2012, 09:19:47 PM »
The chain method (Seinfeld productivity secret) really does work.  Have you tried it?

I have used the chain method to good effect. In fact, I am using it right now. I do recommend it, BUT...

I think it's fair to warn that it's an integrity-based method. In other words, you are putting more at risk than the imaginary concept of the chain. There is something very real and very important at risk: your personal integrity. The chain is not just a chain; it is a line in the sand; it is a glass wall. There's nothing keeping you from crossing that faint line but yourself. If you do cross it, the glass wall shatters, and you can't put it back together again -- it stops having any power to stop you. The chain, that wall, is your very integrity. Every time you cross the line, and inherently reward yourself in doing so (or you wouldn't have been tempted to cross it in the first place), it becomes easier and easier to cross the next time. That's human nature.

In other words, the danger is that it stops working after breaking it. It's not a matter of merely building another chain. (Though, curiously, building chains for other things can still work.)

That's why I think it's important that there's a built-in leniency in the system. Missing one day is undesirable, but not the end of the world. Life happens. You aren't risking your integrity on one day. But missing one day means you go into emergency mode. Stay up all night if you have to, but get it done. Then you're safe. (Chaining works better for doing something than avoiding doing something.)

Anyway, I recommend choosing something relatively EASY if you use the chain system, because I guarantee you, some days EASY will seem HARD, and HARD will seem IMPOSSIBLE.

arebelspy

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012, 09:32:01 PM »
I think a lot of that was correct in theory, but I disagree with this:

Quote
It's not a matter of merely building another chain.

I think it's absolutely possible to have a 30 day chain, break it, and start again.

Often that's part of the challenge, trying to beat your old record.

But yes, you do have to have integrity to admit it was broken, and courage to start again.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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Eristheunorganized

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2012, 09:56:10 PM »
I found cooking was easier when I belonged to a CSA. I had food delivered to me every week. If I didn't cook it, it went bad and I wasted money. No way. So I cooked a full meal almost every night. It helped that I wasn't single and had someone who helped and encouraged me to cook more.

I dunno, I'm not great at forcing myself to do difficult things. It helps if I can stay excited about the possibilities. For cooking: get cookbooks with great pictures. Occasionally watch a fun food network show. For language: Maybe watch books or movies in that language. Look at arty picture books of places that speak the language. Start saving to go there. Etc.

Fetlock

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2012, 10:46:06 PM »
Often that's part of the challenge, trying to beat your old record.

I'll have to try thinking of it that way. I think it probably depends a lot on how you think of it.

I tend to be overly strict with my expectations for myself. I'm not a robot, though, so it gets me in a lot of trouble.

tjt

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2012, 10:52:22 PM »
One thing I've recently "relearned" is how important community is.  Fitness is always something I've enjoyed but lately I have been slacking and feeling a little lost. 

I found a great community of friendly people that like to work out together outside.  It's free, and it's really fun.  The enthusiasm and joy from my weekly meeting with these people carries me through the rest of the week - I get my regular workouts done, because I'm looking forward to being better next week.  Plus if I do slack off, I've always got my baseline group workout to look forward to and remind me of how much fun it is.

I never liked running.  A few bouts of shin splints from starting too quickly put the fear in me.  These last weeks I've been doing a couch to 5k program to get ready for the 101st annual bay to breakers in SF!  Again, motivated by the goal of actually running the race with two of my best friends.

My point may be obvious.  If you have an activity that you like but you don't keep at it to the level you think you should - try adding a community aspect to it.  Maybe a volunteer conversational German session, or a cooking class.  Or just having your friends over for dinner and cooking enough to feed yourself on left overs too.  Or even better - have a friend over and cook together! It's less overwhelming and with more team work.  You could both pre-cook for the whole week!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 10:58:35 PM by tjt »

nolajo

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2012, 09:49:49 AM »
I'd had some issues with the chain method, but I don't think I'd made the connection to integrity. That's an aspect of it that I didn't really account for and so yeah, when the break down happened, it happened hard. The leniency might be part of how to make it work for me.

Basically, these two examples are positive changes I'm trying to make right now that will have some benefits. The language is to strengthen my grad school application (it's directly related to what I want to study, so at least some ability to read and write it is going to be a big perk) and well, cooking is kind of necessary if you don't want to break the bank by eating. Both of these are things I enjoy well enough sometimes, it's that consistency of doing it that's the trick. Thanks for the suggested tweaks to my previous method!

AJ

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2012, 12:06:49 PM »
In my sexist and somewhat archaic way, I call it "manning up".

In an equally sexist way, I call it "putting on my big girl panties."

velocistar237

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2012, 01:21:02 PM »
In an equally sexist way, I call it "putting on my big girl panties."

I'm definitely using this.

chschen

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2012, 12:54:09 PM »
I totally second the comment about how important community is. I used to love eating out, and I've never been that fond of cooking. But now it's something my boyfriend and I do together, and it no longer feels like a chore. Once you get the hang of cooking, and it becomes easier, it can even feel a little relaxing--especially if you have good music playing in the background.

As for learning a language--again, I find that having a partner to do this with will make it more fun. Then you guys can practice on each other and laugh at your silly mistakes, or even compete with each other to learn more vocab.

Guitarist

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 11:25:58 AM »
Are you learning German?  Because it's impossible to speak German and cook good food at the same time. 


How
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You

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2012, 11:37:11 AM »
Are you learning German?  Because it's impossible to speak German and cook good food at the same time. 


How
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Bier macht nicht wurst besser schmeckt. :p

Guitarist

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2012, 11:53:33 AM »
Es tut mir leid.
Bier bildet alles besser. Aber, Wurst ist gerade die Spitze des Eis Berg. Deutsche Kuche wird unterschatzt.

Daley

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2012, 12:01:44 PM »
Aber Hitler aß deutsches essen! Was von Hitler!

</godwin>

I'm just teasing, man. My grandparents were German, I dug everything but the sauerkraut.

Guitarist

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2012, 12:10:23 PM »
I know you're messing with me, it's all good.
I am half German, and I used to not be able to stand sauerkraut, but it's growing on me.

And for the record, Hitler was a vegetarian. German cuisine and vegetarianism are mutually exclusive. ;-)

nolajo

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2012, 04:39:12 PM »
Haha, nope, not learning German - Russian as a matter of fact. And I'll have you know that the last time I was cooking regularly was when I was dating a German guy; he was great to have in the kitchen. I'd never appreciated before how much having things evenly chopped can smooth out the process.

Now, however, being single, cooking just seems like a pain. Plenty of days I'm not all that hungry at dinner, so I'll just snack on a few veggies or cheese and crackers, but I still don't manage to do much in terms of cooking those days when I do want to eat. I'm trying to combat that issue of keeping something up. I'm great at putting on my big-girl panties (love that! Haven't heard it since I was a kid, but it's going back into my lexicon) for one-off changes or short bursts, but I historically have trouble getting over the hump between when the luster wears off and when you get good enough for something to be fun. Even knowing it will (probably) happen, it's a bit of a challenge. I imagine I can't be the only person who's found this to be the case, hence putting it to the hive to see what we could come up with.

Guitarist

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2012, 09:48:58 PM »
Reading one of Anthony Bourdain's latest and he wants some basic culinary techniques taught in high school. I kind of agree with him.

Correct chopping is one of those skills.

nolajo

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Re: How do you make positive changes?
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2012, 10:05:30 PM »
No kidding. Having someone who was somewhat anal about that really showed me how much easier it made everything else. Beforehand, I'd always thought it was well, anal. But that goes onto the long list of life skills I wish were taught in high school.