Ep #84: Minimum Baselines To Reach Your Goal | Becoming You Again Podcast
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?