You see, I get overwhelmed by the changes I want to see. Usually, I identify ‘opportunities for improvement’ in my children first and think about how I can role model these changes. For example, I want my kids to better manage computer time, so I need to put my computer away in the evening. It works pretty well when I do it. But the list grows and grows until I tumble into an abyss of expectations and perfectionism. Grumpy mum emerges.
Maybe it’s not about what I want them to DO, but what I want them (and me) to BE. Kind. Enthusiastic. Not grumpy. How do I help my children and myself be better versions of ourselves?
Habits guru James Clear says building Identity-Based Habits is crucial because ‘the key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first’. To form new habits, I must tie my individual actions to a vision of who I want to be. For example, to think of myself as ‘the type of person who connects with her children’ makes it easier for me to achieve small wins to support that identity. My small win may be a hug for each child every day.
According to Clear, ‘the interior of behavior change and building better habits is your identity. Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions’
Makes sense to me…
A Little Game That I Call ‘Being’
So, my new game is to insert who I want to be into the Gandhi quote.
Gandhi’s Quote: Be the change you want to see.
Cindy’s Game: Be the ____________________ you want to see.
I can start positively and insert ‘Jolly Mum’.
Be the Jolly Mum you want to see.
I then list out the traits and activities of a Jolly Mum until I have a vision of who I want to be. Then I use the age-old tactic of ‘fake it until I make it’. So I focus on three things that affirm this identity.
- Use the Headspace app to clear the buzzing in my head
- Deliberately hug my children in the morning, after school, and before dinner
- Smile when they walk into the room.
I can also use this game to remind myself of who I don’t want to be. Let’s insert Grumpy Mum and go through the same exercise. Grumpy Mum would do the following three things.
- Stay glued to my computer screen all day with no break so that I am completely frazzled before pickup.
- Deliberately remind my children at pick-up just how busy I am.
- Nag them about something (anything) every time they walk into a room.
I think this game might just work. (I hope Ghandi would approve).
Notice that my “Game of Being” puts the focus on me being the change, rather than the focus on changing my children. If you are looking for a good reminder of why this is important, then take a look at the quote below written by an unknown Monk around 1100 A.D. (This quote is sitting in a frame on my bathroom dresser). Have fun!
I wanted to change the world when I was a young man
[quote]I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.[/quote] Written by an unknown Monk around 1100 A.D.
I’d really like to hear from you. How do you build new habits for yourself? How would you like to you see yourself? Which one of these tips most resonates with you, and why?
Remember that many parents are looking for inspiration and support so share as much detail as you can below. Your share may be the one that truly helps another person.
Important: please share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments.