With the new year, our thoughts turn to making changes in our lives. Normally we have big ideas of the changes we want to make, the person we want to become. Unfortunately the goals we set come with aggrandized perceptions of ourselves where we expect the changes to be made overnight. We want to be someone who exercises six days a week, yet we only exercised a few times in the last year, but we hold the expectation that we must meet this goal immediately, right away.
Listen in as I teach about minimum baselines as a more effective way of meeting any goal you want to set for yourself. You've tried setting goals the other way. Maybe this year try something new and much easier to keep - setting a minimum baseline. Small, consistent habits that will lead to big change down the road. To join the free monthly group coaching and support call click here. To schedule your complimentary consult with Karin click here. The Becoming You Again Program for divorced women is coming! If you want to be the first to know when it's available then you need to join the waitlist by clicking here. Make sure to follow and rate the podcast on your favorite podcasting app.
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Full Episode Transcript:
I’m Karin Nelson and you’re listening to Becoming You Again episode number 84.
Welcome to becoming You Again. The podcast to help you with your mental and emotional wellbeing during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the trauma of your divorce by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so your life will be even better than when you were married. I’m your host Karin Nelson.
Hello. My friends. How are you all doing? How was your holiday season? My holidays were amazing. I got to spend some time with my family and my kids and then when my kids were at their dad’s for Christmas I got to have a little down time with my boyfriend and I even gave a little extra attention and love to myself and spent some time with me. I feel very refreshed and loved, and now I’m ready to dive into the new year, as I’m sure so many of you are as well.
The new year is when everyone is talking goals and resolutions and the best way to reach your goal for real this time. Because we all know what it’s like to set a resolution or a goal, right? We have very grand aspirations. We are doing it this year. We are going to lose the extra weight. We are going to be healthier and go to the gym six days a week. We are going to wake up earlier or go to bed earlier. We have big ideas of what we want. Which is totally great. I love it when we can have a vision of a more evolved version of ourselves that we are working toward. The problem though, is we live in a culture where we have been taught to want everything to happen fast, now, immediately. And when that doesn’t happen we get frustrated, bored, or overwhelmed and give up. We make these big resolutions to become something different, but the only way we know to reach it is to hold ourselves to an impossible standard overnight. And that’s just not how most change is made. Like, you set the goal to exercise at the gym six days a week when you haven’t even been exercising at the gym one day a month and yet you are expecting yourself to be a completely different person overnight. Or you tell yourself you’re going to drop 30 pounds by eating healthier so you fill your fridge with vegetables and proteins but you’ve mostly been eating carbs and treats for the last few years, and you expect that you’ll just magically want to eat the other new foods. Again, this isn’t how change works. Not lasting, real change anyway. You can do this overnight stuff for a little while. This is why most gyms stay busy for the first six weeks after the new year. Or why you might lose the initial 5 to 7 pounds in the first few weeks. But then what happens? The white knuckling of change happens. We get tired of trying so hard to be someone we’re not that we stop. We get frustrated that things aren’t happening fast enough that we stop.
So what’s the answer to setting goals and actually achieving them? It’s implementing something called minimum baselines. This is the idea that you set a very small goal that is so easy to do that you’ll for sure do it. Now your brain is going to think that this goal is so small that it isn’t even worth doing but having minimum baselines is where the actual change and growth and habits are formed. And I’ve talked about this before on the podcast but one of our brains main functions is to conserve energy and one way that it does that it to form habits because the more it can do on autopilot the more energy it is conserving. So minimum baselines is a win-win for you and a win-win for your brain and it feeling like it’s doing it’s job of energy efficiency.
Let me give you a few examples of minimum baselines so you know what I’m talking about. If your goal is to workout more and you eventually want to work up to 45 minutes of exercise six days a week, then instead of doing 45 minutes six days a week for three weeks and then giving up because it’s too hard to keep at it for the rest of the year until next year’s resolution time…you set a minimum baseline of 15 minutes of exercise three days a week. Or 5 minutes six days. You decide on something that is so easy that you will for sure do it, and easily create a habit out of it.
Or say you want to eat healthier. You decide on a minimum baseline of eating one fruit and one vegetable twice a week. Or adding a vegetable with dinner four nights. Or whatever sounds doable and easy to you. Remember it’s something that is so easy to keep that your brain is like, this isn’t even worth doing, but you remind your brain, I know but we’re going to do it anyway.
This is the magic of minimum baselines. You become consistent with this baseline, doing it over and over again which then creates a habit. Once that habit is created you can then create a new minimum baseline which incrementally will get you closer and closer to your goal and eventually your minimum baseline is the goal you wanted to achieve in the first place. And the double magic is that often once you get started on your minimum baseline that you’ve set, you might even do a little bit more – but it’s not a problem if you don’t.
For example, if you’ve set a minimum baseline of working out for 15 minutes three days a week, and you get on the treadmill to do a 15 minute jog, after the 15 minutes you might be like this is invigorating. I feel great. I think I’ll go for another 15 minutes. So you do. Amazing. That’s a fun little moment to celebrate the additional movement for your body. But if you get done with the 15 minutes and you’re like, whoa. I am done. That’s definitely enough for me today. And you go take a shower and get changed. That’s also a moment for you to celebrate because you still kept your minimum baseline goal of 15 minutes! You did it. There’s no reason to beat yourself up for not doing more, because you already did the baseline.
Ok so before I teach you how to choose your minimum baseline, I want to make sure you understand one thing. When I say that this should be easy to do, this doesn’t mean that your brain isn’t going to tell you not to do this when you first are starting out. Anything that is easy to do is also easy not to do. And as with any kind of change, even a small tiny change, it’s totally normal for your brain to object and try to tell you the reasons why you shouldn’t be doing this. One of the main arguments it will make is that these little amounts won’t make any difference, right? I’ve already mentioned this. But we know that’s actually not true and that small consistent habits are what adds up to big results. So just be aware as you begin to implement your new minimum baseline, your brain will not be on board at first. That’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong. You just have to be willing to be the manager of your brain and remind it that because this is so easy to do we’re definitely doing it. Your minimum baseline should be something that you are willing to do forever. Because think about it, if you were to exercise 15 minutes three days a week for the rest of your life, you would overall have more stamina, have a healthier heart and cardiovascular system, your muscles will be stronger than if you exercised 45 minutes for six days a week every January and then not at all for the next 11 months for the rest of your life. Do you see how the consistency of keeping the minimum baseline will create a better overall result for you, than trying to shoot for the big change all at once and then giving up a few weeks in?
And there’s the added benefit of creating confidence in yourself. You are doing what you said you would do. You believe that you’re capable of creating new habits. You keep your word to yourself which feels really good. You see yourself as successful and capable of creating even the smallest of change.
Whereas the opposite happens when you set giant goals that are so far out of reach, after the willpower goes away and you stop doing what you said you were going to, you feel like a failure and you begin to believe or add onto the belief that you can’t change. You aren’t capable and you continue to beat yourself up.
So there are so many areas where you can create a minimum baseline. Let me give you some more examples. So I’ve talked about the two more obvious choices, exercise and health. A few more examples of those might be, I’m going to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. That could be your minimum baseline for health and eating. You’re still going to eat all the things you’ve been eating, but you’re going to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
Or maybe you eat dessert every night after dinner and you want to stop doing that. A minimum baseline could be, I’m going to eat dessert four nights a week and the other three I don’t eat dessert.
Some ideas for minimum baselines for being active might be, I’m going to do yoga for 20 minutes three days a week. Or I’m going to do some breathing exercises and focus on my breath work for 10 minutes five days a week. What is it that will be easy for you to do on a consistent basis?
Maybe you want to have some money in savings. You can start with a minimum baseline. I’m going to save $25 from every paycheck in my savings account or in my glass jar on the counter or whatever. Again, you might be thinking, that’s not going to make a difference – but it does. Remember, little changes consistently over time adds up.
Another idea is feeling more confident. I had a women in my facebook group the other day say that when she dresses up in clothes that fit right and feel good on her body that she feels more confident. This is because she’s thinking thoughts like, Damn I look good. She’s thinking thoughts about herself that create a feeling of confidence. So a minimum baseline for confidence could be, I’m going to take a shower and get dressed in clothes that fit and that I like four days a week. Or one that really works for me that I know you’ve heard me say before is I tell myself five things I love, like or appreciate about myself every day. Maybe your minimum baseline would be every night before bed I tell myself one thing I like, love or appreciate about me.
The beauty of the minimum baseline is you get to choose what it is. You get to decide the ease. You get to make this as personal to you as you would like. So think about an area of your life that you would like to make some kind of change in and write that down. Then brainstorm anywhere between five and 25 ideas for minimum baselines that you could possibly do and then pick one and commit to doing it.
Ok so to recap, pick an area where you want to make some kind of change. Brainstorm some ideas for minimum baselines – keep it easy. What will be so easy that it almost seems not worth it, but it is worth it over time, but you’ll do it consistently? Then commit to doing just your minimum baseline and watch yourself transform over this next year. You will be amazed by the results you can create in your life by just sticking with your minimum baselines.
Alright my friends. I love you. You’ve got this. Have a great week. I’ll talk to you soon.
If you like what you’re learning on the podcast and you’re ready to create lasting change and results in your life then you need to be working 1:1 with Karin as your divorce coach. This is where we take everything you’re learning in the podcast and 10x it with implementation and weekly coaching where you start to see change in yourself and your life immediately. To find out more about how work exclusively with Karin go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com . That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.
Thanks for listening. If this podcast episode agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give it a rating wherever you listen to podcasts. And for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married, make sure to check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.