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Design For Worst-Case Scenarios

The single best time to implement happiness and health routines is when everything is falling to sh**. If you design wellbeing routines that work on your worst day, it will work everyday.

We often design wellbeing routines as if we were Goldilocks. Everything needs to be juuuuuuust right.
The weather needs to be good. This eliminates more than half the year.
You are not too tired. That window from when your coffee starts working to when it starts wearing off is a sacred one.
You have  enough time. A coaching client recently told me, “I have been waiting 22 years for it to be the right time.”

If we design wellbeing routines for near perfect conditions, we are doomed to fail. What if designed for worst-case scenarios?

Consider first aid. First aid is designed for when your heart stops beating. That is probably THE worst-case scenario. 
It’s simple. Danger. Response. Send for help. Airway. Breathing. Circulation.
It works. “In an overwhelming number of cases, first aid has been the difference between life and death”

First aid is not reliant on the weather, whether you are tired or whether you have time. It’s a system that can be relied upon when everything is falling to sh**.

When it comes to wellbeing routines, can we design for worst-case scenarios? Yes, MAM! MAM stands for Minimum Absolute Must. MAMs form the foundation for each of our routines. A well crafted MAM should seem frustratingly small and too easy to do.

Exercise: 1 push up.
Gratitude journaling: Write one thing you are grateful for.
Meditation: 1 mindful breath.
Diet: 1 bite from a fruit.

A MAM helps to build consistency into the start of our habits. Starting is usually the hardest part. Think back to a time where you were tired and couldn’t be bothered exercising but you did it anyway. Did you find that after you started, it was much easier to keep going? Starting is hard. MAMs make it easier to start. They are also great for worst case scenarios. You could have a horrible day. You get home and all you want to do is collapse onto the couch and wait for the day to be over. You can still do 1 push up and then wait for the day to be over.

Having the discipline of MAMs keeps the habit alive and reinforces the mindset that you are someone who prioritises their happiness and health. Once the MAM is solidified, you can build intensity into your routines. You can do more. You can do it for longer. Nevertheless, some days just suck. On those days, don’t just accept defeat. Say, yes MAM! If you can’t consistently perform even your MAM on the difficult days, then you have a design problem!

For more detail on what this looks like in practice, check out my appearance on the Just a Teacher Podcast where I explore this in detail with educator extraordinaire Travis Goulter.

If you know someone who will find this useful, please share this newsletter with them. 

Much love to you and of course, to myself.
Dr G


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