The magic of micro-actions

The magic of micro-actions

Instead of trying to run marathons and meditating for long hours, indulge in tiny lifestyle routines that will benefit you more, says Jonathan Wells.


At one month in, I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we’ve stuck to our New Year’s resolutions. And if we’re sliding this early on, what hope do we have for the next 47 weeks? Is the gym already looking like an increasingly unattractive place? Are the cigarettes beckoning from inside their unopened packets? Are you gagging to pop down to the pub for a swift pint (even though you’ve only just had breakfast)? Then maybe ‘micro-actions’ can be your saviour.

‘Micro-actions’ are the brainchild of health and wellness expert Aleksi Hoffman, whose new self-help bible The Book of You uses these step-at-a-time techniques to coach individuals to a better and more fulfilling life. “A micro-action is small, actionable and easy to do,” explains Aleksi. “Completing a micro-action doesn’t usually take more than a few minutes and therefore may seem insignificant at first. But the power of accumulating small good actions over time is remarkable!”

“ ‘Do 10 squats when idle’ is a micro-action,” Aleksi continues, “‘Do a Smolov-squat routine’ is not. ‘Sit quietly for two minutes’ is a micro-action. ‘Meditate for 30 minutes’ is not. ‘Take the stairs’ is a micro-action. ‘Run a marathon’ is not. You get the picture.”
“Three very common pitfalls people make at New Year are trying to achieve too much at once, not making their resolutions concrete and relying too much on willpower. Using the micro-action mindset, we can tackle these obstacles by decomposing the big resolution or goal to easy bite-sized and concrete actions that we can fit into our days,” he says.

Here are some very easy-to-follow suggestions:

Be less stressed
Try using the two minute rule if you’re feeling stressed — it’s a small step that will save you fretting in the long run. Quite simply, if something takes two minutes or less to complete, do it right away. Don’t write it down, don’t add it to your to-do list, just do it. It’s surprising how many simple things we put off when we could get them done really quickly.


Drink less
If you try to drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol, you won’t feel the need to keep guzzling alcoholic drinks all night.

Learn something new
An easy resolution to stick to, many people just need a small push. If you commute using public transport, try using this time to read about something new rather than flicking through social media or games on your smartphone, laptop or tablet.

Quit smoking
Quitting smoking is a big lifestyle change — but that doesn’t mean that small actions can’t help you accomplish it. When you feel the urge to smoke, why not drink a large glass of water first, and then see if you still want the smoke. Additionally, your smoking break may have become a key part of your day in terms of socialising, so don’t stop going on your smoking break straight away — but perhaps just engage a colleague or friend in discussion rather than having a cigarette.

Eat more healthily
Many people don’t eat healthily because they don’t have a constant reminder that they should be doing so. Place a fruit bowl in a prime spot in your home and you’ll begin to grab a piece out of sheer habit.

Lose weight & get fit
There are a few different micro-actions that will help you stick to your new fitness regime this new year. You could try putting your workouts into the calendar at the beginning of each week, do a series of two minute workouts, or commit in advance to a weekly exercise with a friend.

Travel to new places
Travelling is obviously a big move, so what micro-actions can put you on the road to becoming an adventurer? Try studying a map. Knowing where places are not only improves your worldly wisdom but will increase your want to travel. So take a few minutes to study a map and learn at least one new place. Can you pin-point Ljubljana? The capital of Tibet?

Travel to new places
Travelling is obviously a big move, so what micro-actions can put you on the road to becoming an adventurer? Try studying a map. Knowing where places are not only improves your worldly wisdom but will increase your want to travel. So take a few minutes to study a map and learn at least one new place. Can you pin-point Ljubljana? The capital of Tibet?

Be more outgoing
A very general resolution, there are many micro-actions that can help you be more outgoing. Try listing either one thing you like about yourself, or one thing you do well to boost confidence. Perhaps embrace a past failure rather than hiding from it. Act how you want to be perceived rather than shying away from things and, most of all, be kind to yourself.

Get out of debt & save money
Another common resolution, there are several micro-actions that won’t put too big a change on your life, but will set you on the path to financial stability. From listing fun, free activities rather than those with a cost attached, to trading down one frequently bought item for a cheaper alternative, these small steps will help you control your finances in 2016.


Spend more time with family
Many people neglect to make time for their families given the hectic nature of modern life. Try booking in family dinners in advance or having a tech-free evening in your household to rectify this.

 

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