The OTBED plan

I'm going down the "less" pathway today for NaBloPoMo. I read this post, and it reminded me about a technique I've used previously to good effect to change habits. The astute reader may guess from the post title that I call my version the OTBED plan. It stands for One Thing Better Each Day, and Stephen Guise's post captures the psychology behind how less can lead inevitably to more if we stay out of our own way.

Unlike Mr. Guise, I have had to use the OTBED plan in situations more dire than wanting to start a fitness plan. Uncoincidentally, OTBED morphs easily into "out of bed" in my mind, and that is because I initially conceived of and (eventually) initiated the OTBED plan during a particularly awful depression when I did not wish to get out of bed. It truly felt impossible, both physically and mentally. I amazed myself at the amount of time I spent trying to convince myself to throw back the covers and just get up.

If you are having issues getting out of bed, then a total life overhaul is inconceivable, in the same way that for someone like me, the concept of a million dollars has no referential meaning. A million, a billion, it makes no difference. It seemed about as likely that I would have a billion dollars as that I would be able to just conduct my life---clean the house, do laundry, cook dinner. Eventually I got up every day if for no other reason than my bladder won the argument, but I didn't necessarily stay up.

So I lit on the OTBED idea. The zinger to my version is that you do one thing better each day, and it doesn't have to build on other better things. That's my version of one pushup in Mr. Guise's post. If I took a shower, that was my one thing. The next day I might cook a meal, or I might move out to the couch and open the curtains. The extreme "less" of removing the pressure of building on my One Things eventually led to stacking the Things anyway.

Most people probably have some area in their lives that they could adapt these concepts for. Less is more, something is better than nothing, whatever you want to call it, it has worked for me with depression, writing projects, cleaning my house, and total disaster control with crises in my life. In fact, getting into the habit of OTBED with small things has made its use automatic with large things.

NaBloPoMo December 2013