"[It] is about making resolutions that succeed EVERY time. By rethinking willpower, and refocusing your resolutions, you can master the art of instant and sustainable self-improvement."
What a wonderful coincidence that I decide to read Small Move, Big Change in December, the month traditionally set aside for, among other things, reflection and planning and often making resolutions that fail within the first 15 days of January! This year I am prepared to not be a part of the “88%” collective fail rate.
Arnold goes through all the things each of us does that contributes to the self-sabotage which almost always guarantees failure of the change we are trying to implement. We make wishes not resolutions: “I will be fit, I will be organized, I will be assertive.” We rely solely on willpower; we are too impatient; we underestimate the resistance to change; and, quite honestly, we really expect to fail – why else would we take out only a one/three/six month gym membership instead of a lifetime one? Come on, we know what will happen, it has happened before, right?
Arnold shows us right at the beginning of the book why our ‘old tried and true’ methods for making any kind of change, personal or professional, is destined for failure. Once we are willing to let go of these ideas that are hard wired into our brain as the ‘only way’ to improve, she guides us down her path of rules and examples of microresolutions.
The Big Idea
Make a resolution you can keep – REALLY keep!
"Put aside the familiar temptation to try and fix everything all at once by tomorrow and focus instead on making a resolution that is so reasonable you are sure you can make it stick... target a limited behavioural change... don’t over reach."
Instead of the standard New Year’s Day resolution of changing ten things in your life, Arnold gets us to be real – real simple! Focus on no more than two or three things; make it small; build on that success and then and only then, move on. Nothing vague either: not get organized, get fit, stop being late. Her rules equate into distinct and defined actions that build into behavioural changes that become habit and led us in the direction of our choice towards long lasting self-improvement.
It is imperative that your microresolution be easy to keep, so easy in fact that we shouldn’t have to make any decisions around keeping it. Making decisions, any decision, leads to weaker resolve and therefore, a more likely environment of failure. Unrealistic resolutions cause us to make frequent and numerous decisions regarding their implementation: call them deferrals or tradeoffs of the original change. Unfortunately for us, this means we are less likely to have the necessary energy to implement the change. The goal here is for auto pilot – no decision making necessary.
Clear–crystal clear–and measurable!
"A microresolution is an action; not something you commit to be but something you commit to do ... not a wish, a philosophy, or a result; its straightforward purpose is to build, change or eliminate a specific behaviour or attitude."
So Arnold leads us into Rule #2 – all microresolutions are explicit and measurable actions. There is to be no guessing around your microresolution and the ironic part is that the clearer you are, the easier it is to measure your success and reach your goal. There is no place here for being flexible or fuzz – that just creates room for failure not to mention stress and anxiety!
It is very important to learn to set realistic goals. This is almost the backbone of Arnold’s method. You must be able to keep them, preferably daily – being that they are so small you are doing the task each and every day. By having a specific task or action to perform, your success is easily measured and once this action becomes an established behaviour requiring little thought or effort, you have reached auto pilot! Eventually the microresolution becomes a habit, something you no longer need to think about doing, you just do it.
No need to wait!
"A microresolution’s time frame is today, not someday... payoff is immediate, obvious, and sustainable forever. Unlike wannabe resolutions, where rewards are promised sometime in the future, each microresolution carries its own payload – what you pledge to do is what you get, as long as you follow through."
This aspect of Arnold’s rules is so incredible powerful! Instead of waiting weeks or months to see the results of a behavioural change, her way allows for a daily boast of ‘I did it! I can keep doing it!’ The benefits of keeping your daily microresolutions are immediate and concrete! The successful progress one makes, through a series of steps, to benefit a personal or professional change, is easy to track and be successful. Self improvement becomes a series of stepping stones or microresolutions and today’s success builds towards tomorrow’s goals.
Small Move, Big Change is an easy, fast read, full of straightforward and uncomplicated to follow ‘rules’ towards self improvement success, each backed up with scientific studies and/or personal anecdotes . The first half of the book provides the whys and hows for both past failures and future successes, while the second half of the book is full of case studies of success with many different microresolutions.
There is no limit to what self improvement area you could tackle with Arnold’s seven rules. I have easily applied her methodology towards my own changes and am wowed by the results! So easy; so simple, and so very successful! Where do you want to start?