How to Make Every Day Choices = Transformation
By: Jennifer Schultz, MS, LPC
People often want to execute a change in their lives in an effort to progress or improve happiness, health, career, relationships, etc. Change can be hard to do and sustain but after hearing this framework, the abstract idea of making a change and sustaining it became a little more concrete. Erin Skye Kelly shared this framework on a podcast which she was a guest on. While there is extensive content on this topic, the following is a brief overview for you to consider as you think about a change you are striving to make.
Ms. Kelly argues that change is really executed in the small choices we make daily rather than a big sweeping transformation. As you consider that, think about sorting your activities of daily life into 4 categories and drawing awareness to what you are actually doing and why. Category labels for simplicity sake are: C4, C3, C2 and C1.
In C4 you find extreme behaviors–things that are not good for you and do not feel good. For instance, alcohol abuse or extreme over indulging in any activity, like exercise, for example. Many people do not have a high number of behaviors that fall into C4 but if or when they do, the behaviors can quickly become all-encompassing.
C3 is the category for behaviors that are not good for you (in the sense of they either do hurt you OR they don't actually help you) but they feel good to you in the moment. Examples might be spending many hours on social media, binging on movies, junk food, impulse shopping or other choices that are usually categorized as "rewards." In reality though, these behaviors are much more frequent than we acknowledge. Spending the majority of time here can occur easily because we tell ourselves this choice is just this moment because we are tired, stressed, happy, etc.
C2 is for behaviors that are good for you, but do not feel good in the moment to you: Going for that walk when the pjs are calling, reaching out to a friend when you are feeling low, practicing an instrument or an art, cooking a healthy meal when it's more of a hassle than take out. They are positive for us yet they don’t feel as good in the moment and, thus, are often traded in for C3 choices. It’s in these small spaces of choosing C3 activities instead of C2 activities that change or transformation stalls.
C1 is the category for behaviors that are good for you and feel good. The magic is doing C2 behaviors regularly until eventually they turn into C1 behaviors. Learning Spanish has been that for me personally. During these 10 years of learning, it went from something I had to force myself to do, to now something which I enjoy using daily. However, yours is your own; it could be reading, veggie smoothies or anything that is meaningful to you and encourages you to be your best self.
As we consider things we want to continue to cultivate during the holidays and the New Year, know that change isn't a big swooping event: It's in all the little choices that we choose to substitute a short-term reward for a longer-term change.
Life is a balance and having an awareness of your choices and intentions can help position your pivot.
One day at a time,
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]