For All or Nothing Thinkers!
When I wanted to start meditating, I was intimidated by the habits of people I know who swore by their practice of meditating 20-40 minutes per day. How did they carve out that much time for themselves? I'd read story after story about people who reduced their anxiety and increased productivity by introducing meditation into their lives, but couldn't seem to get started. I was stuck in All or Nothing Thinking. If I can't meditate 20-40 minutes a day, I just won't meditate at all!
My friend Brian introduced me to the AIM framework by asking me 3 questions.
- What's the ACCEPTABLE minimum number of minutes you could meditate per week?
- What's the IDEAL number of minutes you'd meditate per week?
- What's in the MIDDLE?
- ACCEPTABLE: 5 min X 5 days = 25 min/week
- IDEAL: 10 min x 7 days = 70 min/week
- MIDDLE: 8 min x 5 days = 40 min/week
So I set out to meditate 8 minutes a day and didn't worry if I missed a day because I was only aiming for 5 days a week. If I reached the ACCEPTABLE number, that was also OK because it was 25 min more than I'd meditated before! After the first month, when I reached my goal each week, I raised my daily amount to 10 minutes and now, most weeks I'm meditating 60-70 minutes per week.
But David, you're saying I DON'T WANT TO MEDITATE! That's not my goal!
Great! Let's use AIM and apply it to another goal! Any goal can work!
Goal: Eat Lean Protein at Meals
•IDEAL: 21 meals/week
•MIDDLE: 14 meals/week
Maybe you use a paper tracking chart on your refrigerator. Or the free iPhone app "Done: Habit Tracker". Track your habit for a week. Maybe you eat protein at 10 meals this week? Great! You met the acceptable, and next week, you can aim for one or two more meals until you're hitting the middle, and inching toward Ideal!
Health and Fitness can feel like an All or Nothing game. "If I'm not eating healthy and working out every day, I'll never make any progress," we can tell ourselves. But all we need to make progress is to GET A LITTLE BETTER EVERY DAY. Next time you find yourself caught in All or Nothing Thinking, see if the AIM Framework can help you set an achievable goal!