How Do I Start To Improve My Life: Do you feel your life needs improvement? Do you have the feeling that it’s crucial to polish some habits in your routine?…
Well, I don’t want to disappoint you, but this is not an article with “10 things that help change your life” or “5 tips that make your life better.”
I think our lives are too complicated, so starting to improve them requires something more defined. But, it’s also true that we don’t have time to try different strategies in each area of our routine or try to take action with significant changes.
Therefore, I don’t promise you a magical and sudden change after reading this article, but maybe when you get to the end point, you will have a solid strategy that becomes the starting point to start improving your life step by step.
I have a friend who’s a little disorganized.
His house, his wardrobe, his desk, and his routine, in general, are always in disorder, but he’s a genuine person.
Recently I have to go to a party outside the city and, of course, did not hesitate to lend me his car.
You can imagine that the car was also a mess: it was a bit dirty, there were empty bottles of water, wrappings, forgotten clothes and even a package in the trunk that he forgot to take to the post office.
The point of this little incident is that something funny happened:
When I returned the car, I realized that the friends who had traveled with me left garbage under the seats.
And then you’ll think of such filthy friends! But, you will be surprised to know that the behavior was not their fault; in fact, it was the fault of the chaotic atmosphere that was breathing in the car.
I explain better: the car is not dirty because of leaving garbage, but the other way around: people left to waste because the vehicle is already dirty (one more trash makes no difference)
I give you an example: when you finish cleaning your kitchen, it is much more likely that the next few days you keep cleaning up the smallest spot to keep it shiny, right?
But, if the kitchen is already messed up, it’s much more likely that you don’t mind leaving that dirty cup out there, what’s the difference!
So what does all this mean? And what does this have to do with improving your life?…
Well, keep reading to find out.
The Broken window theory
Since the 1980s, cities around the world have used this theory to combat crime and improve police surveillance.
This theory has been practically the Bible of criminology. The authors propose that the crime in the cities begins with the Disorder:
First, A property is abandoned, weeds grow, and a window cracks. Vandals break more windows.
Teenagers gather in front of the corner shop to drink. The merchant asks them to move, And they refuse. Fights occur.
This means that those areas of the city with more broken windows, abandoned buildings, graffiti, waste, and clutter, tend to have the highest numbers of crime.
If we can stop these crimes, We have to clear all those areas of the city.
From my point of view, this means that crime begins to appear in the form of small details almost invisible, tiny disorders that accumulate to form a ball of chaos large enough to affect the lives of people.
An excellent strategy to prevent destruction, the authors say, is to fix the problems when they are still small to avoid raising, for example, Repair windows, collect trash, clean the streets.
As the former police chief of Los Angeles and New York, William J. Bratton said: “if you take care of the little things, then you can avoid many of the big ones.”
Significant research was done recently with a new and much more accurate perspective on this theory of broken windows; the results show a decrease of 35% of the violence with firearms in those areas of the city where the “land Abandoned “were remodelled.
All of the above can also be applied in your life:
Unhealthy behaviours and habits begin to appear in the form of small, almost invisible decisions, tiny actions that accumulate until they mainly affect your life.
And the other way around, focusing on making tiny changes in your environment, motivates you to take small healthy actions that are accumulating until you have a tremendous positive impact on your life.
Often, we think that to start improving our lives, we need to take drastic action, or make a tremendous effort to force ourselves to do the right thing.
But we forget the importance of the environment in our actions.
When you transform your environment to improve, right decisions are virtually assured.
Your environment influences your behavior
Please, look around you.
Your entire environment is set up to determine how you should act.
Objects, signs and even people, serve as reference guides on how we should act and respond.
Environmental signals are the objects in our environment that trigger specific thoughts and desires, which makes us behave in a certain way.
- You have many tabs open in your computer’s browser, which makes you hesitate to start your work.
- When the dishes you use to eat are dirty, you tend to ask for unhealthy food at home
- If your sportswear is at the bottom of the cabinet, it is much less likely to go for a walk (as you had proposed)
- When you look at Instagram notifications, it makes it more likely that you will start the spiral of comparisons and self-criticism.
If you want to take control of your life, you must first take control of the space around you.
The environment influences your small decisions and, if you take care of your small choices, the accumulated result is quite noticeable.
All of the above means that the environment is the main trigger of our habits.
Your mission is to find all those things in your personal environment that enables your old habits and then redesign it to be compatible with new and better habits.
In the broken window theory prevention of crime, is achieved because they are influencing two strategies:
First, avoid a casual environment (because it promotes vandalism) and secondly, design a space that encourages ethical behavior.
That’s my suggestion for you:
Make minimal changes in your environment (almost invisible) that do not require a great effort on your part, but that influence your decisions to improve your habits.
The question is how and where do I start?…
How and where do I start to improve my life?
There is not a single way to put into practice the principle of “changing your environment to start improving small things.”
First, it is essential to identify in which area of your life have broken windows, i.e., what area of your life needs improvement? Where do we start our remodelling?
At this point, it is reasonable to think: all! I need to change everything!
But, if you think about it again and stop to analyze it, we all have certain “conflict zones,” we all have areas with more broken windows than others.
For example, to reduce the stress you may find, it is urgent to sleep better, maybe it is your diet, to strengthen your concentration at work or to learn how to manage stress better. Also, Read 15 Ways To Reduce Stress At Work – How To Reduce Stress
So as a first step, identify your zone of conflict.
It’s not that difficult; here are some simple steps you can take to get started.
1.-Divide your life into four areas:
Since we have the theory of broken windows as an analogy, then why not divide your life into four main areas.
It will be easier if you draw a square window, with four divisions.
Each division represents an area of your life:
- Health: Your general state of health, nutrition, exercise.
- Productivity and Finance: Your money situation, your job.
- Personal relationships: Relationships with friends, family, significant people, etc.
- Personal development: Improve your self-esteem, confidence.
2.-Which part of the window is more broken?
In each quadrant of that window, write a number to rate how well or poorly you consider that area in your life.
Rate each area on a scale from 0 to 5.
(5 is the highest rating and means that this area in your life is excellent and vice versa)
Maybe all areas have less than 5 or, probably, there are only two areas in particular that have the lowest rating, which means that there are harmful habits there.
It’s okay. It’s not the time to analyze why or blame or victimizes.
For now, find the lowest number: which area of your life needs urgent remodeling?
For example, mine is my productivity.
I need to learn how to handle stress, I usually have a hard time taking breaks at work, and I have a habit of pushing myself to do more than I need to. When the day ends, and if I did not manage to complete everything I supposed to do, I feel a slight frustration, I also skip my free time, which makes everything worse.
That’s why I believe that this area of my life is the most diverse area. What’s yours?…
3.- In the most broken part: what small change could you make now in your environment?
At this point, you only have to define a maximum of 2 small things that you could change in your environment to improve that number (only in that area with the lowest rating).
The golden rule is to maintain that which encourages good habits nearby and conveniently. And backward, keep distant or more inaccessible that promotes the bad habits in your life. Also, read 15 Habits That Will Take You Out of Your Comfort Zone and Change Your Life For The Better
I have two ways to achieve it:
– Builds barriers, walls, or discards suggestions to discourage bad habits
Of course, the walls we are talking about are not barbed barriers; It’s just the limits you create in your life.
In this way, having harmful habits or behaviors that affect your life will not be the default decision, but you will be creating some distance to take control and decide better.
Here are some examples:
- Hide (or give away) unhealthy food from your fridge and refrigerator
- Do not take money to work, so you don’t buy anything in the cafeteria
- Hide the remote control of the television, to avoid lying on the sofa
- Leave your mobile charger very far away from the place where you sleep
- Logout on all distracting pages
- Turn off all mobile notifications
- Hide credit cards at home
- Turn off your mobile on Friday, to avoid that unnecessary party outing
- If it hurts your self-esteem, get off at Instagram
If you can’t think of anything to remove the suggestions in your environment, then you can do the following:
- Analyze your routine and identify unhealthy behaviours or habits
- Identifies what reminds you or what drives you to fall into that behaviour? What’s the clue? It can be an object, a place, a time of day, a person, etc.
- How could you discard that suggestion or distance it from your environment?
The next part is also straightforward.
-Design your space to influence the behavior you want
Environmental signals are the objects in our environment that trigger certain thoughts and desires, which makes us behave in a certain way.
If we manage to change even very small in this environment, healthy activities will not only be intentional but more predetermined.
Having a better option within reach makes it the default option.
Look at these ideas:
- Have fruit washed to take to the office
- Keep the kitchen clean to make it easier to cook
- Putting my sportswear in the hallway; I have to see it in the morning
- Carry my sneakers in my bag to walk back home after work
- Have a book near the bed, to read instead of being on the mobile
- Make the bed in the morning so that it is more attractive to go to sleep
- Set alarms to pause while working
- Stick a note in your wallet that remembers your financial goals
- Schedule a reminder to pay monthly bills
- Set a song as an alarm tone that puts you in a good mood
- Have a chair to write with concentration and another chair to be on Facebook
If you can’t think of anything to modify in your environment, then you can do the following:
- What healthy habits do you need in your routine, what would a person have who has that area of his life in order?
- How could you make it so much easier to adopt that habit? What should be present around you for healthy behaviour to be self-evident? What would help you make the right decision?
This can help you to brainstorm and choose what best suits your life.
Why does the strategy of broken windows work in improving your life?
The changes we make may seem insignificant at first, but, these small improvements accumulate over time to achieve great results.
Here I leave you more advantages of the “Broken Windows Strategy” to start improving your life:
- You don’t feel overwhelmed by everything you need to improve on your daily routine
- Helps you to identify and focus first in an area of your life that you need to remodel
- It’s easier to keep a little change over time, instead of doing it all at the same time
- Small changes in your environment accumulate to achieve excellent sustainable results
- Doing the right thing is a lot easier, and you don’t have to rely on your willpower alone
- When you have a healthy habit, it is more likely that the healthy streak will spread in more areas
- Little by little you can go making more changes increméntales in your environment to have better habits
We all have broken windows in our life, so the important thing is to take action to begin to remodel little by little.
Now I would love to read your comments in the comments section below.
Tell me: What part of your routine will you start remodelling? How do you get rid of the clues? What small changes in your environment will you be doing?…
Helps more people have healthy lives they deserve. Share!