I’ve always admired squirrels for their work ethic and planning. It’s not even fall yet and I’m already seeing them on my morning walks, scurrying around the woods, mouths full of nuts and seeds, on a mission to bury their bounty.
I think it’s so cool how they instinctively know to stash their future meals in preparation for wintertime.
When I see them in action, I think what a splendid example they are of intentional living. We humans sure can learn a thing or two from these busy, little creatures.
If you think about it, squirrels are taking care of their “future selves” far in advance, which is amazing. They are making it easy or “convenient” to survive and thrive the cold, wintery months.
In her book, Better than Before, author Gretchen Rubin writes about the “strategies” of convenience and inconvenience when adopting a new habit. I’ve always considered these strategies important to ensure success.
For instance, when I committed to a weight loss goal a few years ago, the first thing I did was fill my fridge and cupboards with foods that were healthy and tasty, and removed all the junk food from the house. This act alone worked like magic.
When I was hungry, the kinds of foods I wanted to eat were right there, front and center (convenience), and if I was considering ice cream for a snack, I would have to get in my car and drive to the store which never felt worth the effort (inconvenience).
The same is true for most any new habit you’d like to implement into your life…
Want to start your day with less stress? Have your lunch packed, clothes set out and coffee pot set up and ready to go the night before (convenience). Then, move your phone or alarm clock out of reach, so you must get out of bed to hit the snooze button (inconvenience).
Want to run a marathon? Join a running group that meets close to your home or office, keep your running shoes/clothes in your car, and write out a running plan (convenience). Then, sign-up and pay the non-refundable entrance fee for a future race (inconvenience).
Want to spend more quality time with other humans and less time on social media? Make arrangements for adult “play dates” with friends and family in advance (convenience). Then, take social media apps off your phone altogether so you must log in from your laptop every time you have an urge to check IG (inconvenience).
You get the idea.
Seems obvious, but it’s not always when you’re not totally committed to change.
Once, a former client told me she wanted to quit smoking. She had the habit of smoking a cigarette or two each evening on her back deck to unwind, but she knew this wasn’t good for her health or for her young son to see.
However, when I suggested she throw out her pack of cigarettes and lighter, making the habit less convenient, she looked at me like I was bananas.
“Noooo” she protested, “I don’t want to do that!”
It sure doesn’t take a life coach to see that she wasn’t yet committed to change, even though her future self would have surely appreciated it.
So, I’m wondering, what are you doing today to make it convenient for your future self to succeed?
Are you living intentionally?
What if you decided right now to commit to change for reals and set yourself up for success?
Listen, if squirrels can do it, you can too.
Living unintentionally in your one-and-only life, repeating unhealthy habits, “hoping” for change but not really committing to it, is just, you know…
(Sorry, just could not help myself! Feel free to roll your eyes!)