Years later this theory of minor accomplishments made its way into the realm of therapeutic self improvement. In one of the classes I do, we (including me) declare an easy project we commit ourselves to. The object of the project is to convince ourselves that we can do what we say. Most of us have the best of intentions, but often crap out of its completion. Exercise, lose weight, quit smoking, watch less TV are only a handful of good intentions. Then we end up feeling like a loser. Go to garage sales and what do you always see? Exercise equipment. Oops, crapped out again. So this home therapy is meant as a confidence builder, not a grand achievement award. So pay attention to the simple rules and try it out once in a while.
■ Important projects like quitting smoking or losing weight or painting your house. Do not over obligate yourself.
■ Endless time doing the project. It must have a start date and a finish date. Typically three to
■ Plan stuff you don’t know how to do. This exercise is only about keeping your word.
■ Plan realistically. Predict obstacles and have a backup plan. If you were going to walk in the park three times a week for 15 minutes, what if you have a week of rain? Most malls have a walking area for indoor exercise. Plan for possible obstacles.
■ Set your start date and finish date. This can range from three weeks to about eight weeks. Even if you love what you are doing, you must stop according to plan. You can re-up your plan in a few days, but keep in mind the object: to do what we said we were going to do.
■ Write down what the little project is as well as the starting and stopping date. Don’t forget to really stop like you said you would. Let’s have some completion here. Check up on yourself with frequency.
■ Plan on your lack of completing your project as a bad, doubledog badluck jinx. Once, my project included reading only three times a week (minimum five minutes). On the second time of getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I remembered it was Sunday night and I was one reading short. I crept back into my room, got my book and read for ten minutes in the bathroom. No jinx for me.
Here are a few examples, most from my classes (eight week class):
*Go over to my Mom’s house once a week and help with a few chores. *My brother and I have hardly talked in the past ten years. If it’s ok with him, I’ll call once a week. *Read for at least ten minutes, three times a week. *Bike down to the high school track in the morning three times a week. I might walk some laps as a bonus, but it’s not part of the game. *Me and my twelve year old son will read back and forth to each other four times a week. No time stated. *Work at least twice a week at completely emptying out the crazy garage. *Lift weights three mornings a week. No amount of time stated for how long. *Take over cooking supper for the family once a week. This includes cleaning up. *Go to the post office and buy eight self stamped post cards. I’ll send my son one a week for eight weeks. *Prepare my garden for spring planting.
It is important to remember the purpose of this therapeutic “game”: to add to our personal credibility (and to a certain degree, self esteem). Let’s stop with the good intentions b.s. and add reliability to ourselves. Keep it simple and do-able.
Finally, don’t forget to roll around in your completion like a pig in mud.
Be pleased with your success.
John S. Sommer
Licensed Clinical Social Worker 2020