Putting better behavior into practice.
October 11, 2016 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm a dreamer, and always enjoy coming across beautiful thoughts on ways of living and thinking. Some seem to be so worthy of making change about! But they always only make marginal impact for about as long as I can hold them in my mind. Aside from those realizations that demand that a change happen right-then-and-there, how do you bring yourself to incorporate new ideas into your actions, mind, and lifestyle? Do you do this?

What sort of practical things do you do to hold your little discoveries in mind? How do you bridge the gap between mental theory and practice? Do you have a board that you write things on, or a daily planner - or do you perhaps incorporate any memory-based techniques? What's your regimen for getting into a new hobby, or a new focus for yourself? Do you need to first have a 'need for change' for yourself in order to enter into it?

Help me train my mental elasticity...! Give me your challenges, your tips and tricks: I want to get closer and more comfortable to adapting to change and experimentation in life and outlook as a mid-twenty-something. Help me explore the process of realizing and creating my own personal evolution.
posted by a good beginning to Human Relations (4 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
A simplified version of the Gleicher Change Formula might help.

d + v > c


d = dissatisfaction with current circumstances
v = vision of how things could be
c = cost of making the change (mostly not financial)

d + v must be greater than c, or you won't make the change. I find that the cost is something rarely accounted for in personal change.

It seems like your dissatisfaction is pretty low, so you're unlikely to to implement the changes that "sound good" to you.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2016 [9 favorites]

You might be interested in Micro-habits, which is a term people are using to describe the way to make small changes stick.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:52 PM on October 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ideas that can be implemented as concrete changes to my schedule or lifestyle or budging are the most like to stick for me, because there exists a framework to enforce them until they become habitual.

In absence of external enforcement, I think the trick to narrow it down to very very few things, because ideas that need me to commit to teaching myself (eg to remember them in the heat of the moment) are going to be much slower longer-term easy-to-backslide change projects, during which time I'll come across a hundred other appealing ideas that immediately want to be the new project, but if I try to do more than a few of those, there's no focus, it's scattered, nothing gets done.

Everyone is different, but for acting more consistently on non-enforceable change-ideas, I suggest recording them (as notes written and distilled by you, eg not as memes written over pretty forests and sunsets), look at the totality of them, merge the ones that are related or redundant, etc, then triage until you have just one or maybe two things to be your "project". All the new appealing ideas that show up over the next few months can only get added to the notes for some distant future time, not displace or distract from the decided-upon project. When you feel that the project is complete - you have noticanly improved habits or patterns of thought or whatever you were aiming for, and you think at least some of that change is habitual enough to stick, then another triage can be done and another project can be started. But, basically, flitting from one thing to the next is what stops me being able to move far from the status quo, so I look for systems to prevent me flitting.
posted by anonymisc at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

All of these answers were excellent in their own way, so I'm marking each of them best answer. The simple logic of the formula that trinity8-director appealed to my rational and systemic side, agents of KAOS gave me a new paradigmatic way to think about training myself, and anonymisc gave some anecdotal advice and encouragement. I'm really enjoying each direction of approach.

Thanks kindly, all. :) I'd be interested if anyone comes along and has anything they wish to contribute as well - so feel free!
posted by a good beginning at 7:52 AM on October 13, 2016

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