Living Better by Ten

Simple things you can do now to improve your life

When it comes to change, we often make it too big.  That is not to say we should not have big goals but it is to say we should have small measurable actions.

Ask yourself what can you do right now that is in line with your goals.  I imagine you have the standard goals of being more productive, healthier, thinner and in some way a better person.  Great!  What can you do now?  The mistake that many of us make is to plan for a time in the future when we are going to roll out this perfect plan of behaviour, eating and exercise. I would guess that has not worked for you in the past.  I feel safe in saying that it will not work in future.

Ten Minute Rule

Back in 2005 I was training for the New York Marathon.  I had almost a year to train so I broke down the miles into smaller goals of 10K races and half marathons.  I trained every week and often 3x a week.  Towards the end of the year I was surprised how hard it was to go running.  Specifically, I was amazed how hard the first 10 minutes of running was.  I thought that I must be doing something wrong seeing how hard it was for me to get through that first 10 minutes.  I asked everyone I knew what their experience was and I even sought the advice of professionals.  The answer was the same from everyone.  They all suffer through the first 10 minutes of their workouts.  I was amazed.  Even the fittest people I could find said they often wanted to give up within the first ten minutes and struggled during that time.

Now, no matter what I am doing, I give myself ten minutes before I evaluate what I am doing or decide to stop.  Usually, I keep going.

This information transformed how I lived

Living by ten can transform your life

• Keep going for 10 minutes before you stop or judge an activity.

• Give 10 genuine compliments to others. Men, women and the young.

• Count 10 things that work and go well. The lift is working, my car is reliable, the service is good.

• Wait 10 minutes before you respond to an e-mail, your partner’s comments or someone’s bad behaviour.

• Allow 10 people ahead of you.  Let one person ahead of you in line; let another person in the line of traffic.  Look for ways for others to go first.

• Give 10 % of your money to good causes.

• Give 10% of your time to others.

You will feel ten times better.

The human mind is capable of amazing achievements and advancing amazing ideas.  When you look at your goals you will see evidence of that.  Think big but act small.

Put yourself in the present moment.  Give yourself one small thing to do that is based on your goal.  It could be that you want to lose 20 kilos and exercise everyday.  Great.  In this moment that may mean making yourself a cup a green tea.  It may mean going to a different place for lunch.  Change happens one brick at a time, in the present moment.

The biggest enemy of change is perfectionism.  I do not confuse perfectionism with high standards.  We all need to strive for those things that may be above us.  Perfectionism is saying I can’t do it perfectly (As I perceive it) so I will not do it all.  You can guess what will happen.  Not only will we not do the imperfect thing but we will often substitute the opposite behaviour.  An example might be that I want to go to the gym but ______ so I order a pizza instead.

Give yourself a gift.  Try something now, imperfectly, do one thing that is based on your bigger goal.  Try it ten times or perhaps for 10 minutes.  Don’t over think it or judge how you are doing until you have done it ten times or perhaps for 10 minutes.  Remember you are human and often the highest achievers feel as you do, struggle as you do.  Give yourself 10 minutes and you might be surprised what you can accomplish.


by J. Alden (American Board Certified)

LCSW; Board of Behavioral Sciences in California USA
MBACP; British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy
HAAD accredited

GNC, German Neuroscience Center
(Neurology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Counseling in Dubai, UAE)

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Block A, 2nd floor, Clinic 2006,
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