In this little article we examine the difficulty of getting out of a rut but how we can change this with the Fire Engine technique.
First, take a moment to review your Waetugoal. Think it through again. How important is it that you reach this? In compiling your goal you might have asked yourself what needs to change and this is a good time to review what you’ve written.
Ruts are those channels that hold in certain behaviours, the old ways that keep us going to where we’ve always gone, the muddy ditches that keep us from growing into who we can be and going to new places. Ruts are the old, familiar dirt tracks that bog us down and refuse to let go. Now think again about what needs to change. List the ruts that have held you back from the weight you would feel happiest at.
A rut might have been there for many years but with a firm idea of a replacement choice of behaviour they are not always difficult to step out from once we accept that it is only us who can take that action.
Let us think of an example.
Here at Waetugo we understand that weight loss is mostly about diet but the healthy lifestyle mindset is equal parts food and exercise. But exercising is so difficult, right? Who has time for the gym or jogging around the park? Who wants to walk the dog on a rainy December evening (as it is as I write this article)? So we slip into our rut, switch on the TV, change our shoes for our slippers and open a bottle of wine with a packet of biscuits. After all, it might be easier to exercise tomorrow and we can make up for a lazy evening of indulgence some other time. The rut just got that little bit deeper.
Examining the above we can see a few behavioural changes that we can try; a step out of the rut. And then as we experiment with these over a few days we begin to create a new routine. The brain learns that these new ways are the habits to promote and we create mental channels that the mind finds easier to follow whilst reducing the palatability of the old.
So what to do? If we agree that change is best tested rather than forced we might want to try a simple step. This might be as small as changing into our gym clothes as soon as we get in from work even if we don’t actually go. Look back over your journal a month or so and see how often you went to the gym without this habit in place. Now agree to make this one change and see how many times you go to the gym over the next month.
Before going to bed on a night before a day off, put your gym clothes and trainers somewhere convenient so that they are the easiest option the following morning. Put your trainers by the side of the bed and other clothes out of immediate reach. I do something similar myself for impending DIY tasks. If my aim is to complete a chore on a Saturday I get down the shed straight after work on the Friday, gather all that I need for the job and put it ‘on site’ ready for the morning. The less than motivated me on the weekend finds that the hard part, starting the task, has been done for me by me yesterday. A mini project is half way complete. If breakfast has become such a rush that you are grabbing a bacon and egg sandwich every morning from a roadside van, then prepare a nutrient dense meal the night before or make sure there is a packet of healthy cereal ready to go in a convenient spot with milk in the fridge.
Is the dog getting bored due to the rainy weather and forced lack of walks? Put an umbrella, a hat and some warm gloves and a scarf next to the dog lead with a big, rainproof jacket (it’s dark in December so no one can see you anyway). Don’t reduce motivation by feeling the need to hunt for what you need. Make finding the equipment very easy.
At Waetugo we call the above the Fire Engine Technique. Fire fighters go onto a shift and immediately get into their basic kit – usually leather shoes, casual trousers and a t-shirt. These are uniform but easy wear garments. But their real stuff now gets put in the obvious place – the fire engine. Their boots have their fireproof leggings rolled over them so that once the boots are on the rest can simply be pulled up and into place. The helmet sits on the truck too as does all of the other safety gear. Imagine the fire bell sounding and these men and women then having to look for their kit. The reality is that when the bell goes off they don’t have to think about equipment at all – their past selves had done this for them. All they have to do is get onto the fire engine. Moving forward to the right behaviour for the right time is now easy. The engine itself has all the kit prepared and in place. The fire fighter gets back from a shout and immediately services it and replaces it for the next time. A routine we can all learn from. Now think about getting back from the gym and replacing the towel straight away in your bag and placing the bag ready to go. No need to find an excuse the next time the gym calls. Log the gym session in your journal just as firefighters would log the event they just dealt with.
Now spend a little time thinking about what you can change with these simple tips and techniques. Think how the Fire Engine technique can get you out of a rut.
Please feel free to add your own suggestions to the comments below and come back for part three of the series – The Pomodorro Technique and Other Fruity Bits.
Here’s a few links to other articles you might find useful in addressing motivation.