As I was driving the other day listening to NPR, I heard a provocative story suggesting that researchers should stop spending millions of dollars comparing the content of all the various diets programs on the market today. Instead, they should focus their studies on how to effectively change behaviors associated with weight gain. As a Professional Organizer, this piqued my interest.
Featured on the NPR program “Here And Now,” was Carey Goldberg, health reporter for WBUR in Boston, commenting on a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Analyzing different well-known diet programs, the report concluded that the various diet programs — on average — are equally well suited for losing weight. Therefore, one could pick and choose any one of the diet programs that looks appealing to them and get pretty much the same result.
If the report concludes that it doesn’t matter what diet program you choose for losing weight, then why are these programs ineffective for so many participants over time? Why is it so common that dieters gain back the weight they lost soon after they stop dieting? The key is “adherence” – sticking to healthier eating habits over time. Instead of continuing to spend millions looking at and worrying about the specific content of the diet programs on the market, this report suggests that we need to understand the context of the individual dieter, and therein lies the key to adherence. We need to shift the focus from simply counting calories and carbs, and look toward behavioral change and how to make those changes last – forever.
Behavioral scientists studying the effects of dieting over time look at factors such as why people crave different foods and how environmental factors, such as family traditions, affect their dietary preferences. They found that the one common factor that undermined the best of intentions around dieting and healthier eating habits is stress. The NPR story stated that, “researchers often hear dieters say that they want to lose weight, but life gets in the way.” The root problem is woven in the feelings experienced, when “life gets in the way” and that is a behavioral issue – not a nutritional one.
Just like the dieting industry, the organizing industry has zillions of products to choose from, and still people feel overwhelmed and stressed. For many, the products don’t deliver on their promises of freedom and ease over time. Before clients call us, many of them have been on a number of “organizing diets” and have not reached or maintained their organizing goals over time. Sleek new organizing products and best intentions are easily de-railed when “life gets in the way.”
As Professional Organizers, we know what makes the biggest difference to someone staying organized over time. It isn’t simply which storage bin we use but rather, that the person develops the habit to actually use the bin over time. All the different storage bins, calendar systems, time management tips, electronic gadgets, apps, etc., do not ensure that one will achieve a state of organization that lasts. They are only the tools we use to create an environment that supports an organized life-style. The actual change towards living an organized life comes from within the individual. Effective behavioral change resets our personal compass, and points us toward our goals and aspirations. “Adherence” to these behavioral changes, ensures us it will last forever!
So the point of this story is…If you want to lose weight, don’t stress about which diet program to choose. Choose the one that appeals to you since they all, on average, work about the same. If you want to keep the weight you lose off for years to come, work with a behavioral specialist to create your unique practices of adherence that promote healthier eating habits. And, if you want to decrease the stress of “life gets in the way,” create an environment that supports your new healthier habits over time — then call one of us. Professional Organizers love supporting behavioral changes that last forever.
Kids May Have Curious George, But Adults Now Have Curious Accountability!
Like Curious George, who stimulates children’s natural curiosity about the world around them, Curious Accountability offers adults a new perspective for tasks associated with getting organized; one where they embark on an exciting journey of self discovery and realized goals. This methodology turns the act of getting organized into a skill building activity. Personal ‘aha’ moments promote longer lasting effects for those who want to get organized and remain organized over time.
At the National Association of Professional Organizers conference in New Orleans last month, Casey Moore and Cameron Gott introduced the concept of Curious Accountability. They defined this concept as “a positive evaluation process based on respect and trust that focuses solely on learning from actions (or inaction). The learning in turn, raises the awareness necessary for developing new skills and tools and achieving goals. Applied consistently over time, Curious Accountability increases self-knowledge and resilience and fosters effective behavior change”.
The word accountability, for many, has a negative connotation — answering to another or a feeling of being punished. In this Curious Accountability model, the focus is on learning and self discovery. Whether the task was accomplished or not, isn’t important. What is important is what the person learns from the process of doing or not doing the task.
Curious Accountability requires a contextual shift in one’s thinking to bring unwanted habits that promote disorganization into the lime light without the usual cloak of shame and blame. If we apply the same kind of curiosity, inquiry, and learning a scientist brings to their fieldwork — or Curious George brings to his daily adventures — we can free ourselves of the ever present good, bad, right or wrong rating systems we apply to our actions and efforts. We can, instead, view our actions, results, and even the “no results” through the filter of learning and exploration. Over time, we are left better problem solvers, in action, and moving towards our goals with more joy, confidence, and ease.
In this learning-focused approach, one might ask themselves at the end of a task or project (accomplished or not):
What did I learn?
What is the value of this learning to the task or overall goal?
What hurdles or “obstacles to overcome” did I discover?
Questions like these are good for illuminating what is important to us moving forward in our organizing endeavors. Should you “get stuck” in this new model, the role of the professional organizer, practiced in this technique, is to be an/a:
Active Listener – listening for the client’s goals and aspirations — long and short term
Cheerleader — keeping the person on track
Mirror – reflecting (not judging) how effective their actions are
Reminder for Self Awareness – let client’s experience inform their next actions
Involved Learner – redefine success
A professional organizer can summarize the learning as it relates to your over all goal or project leaving you ready, prepared, and empowered for your next week of Curious Accountability.
Kids may have Curious George to reveal the magic of curiosity, but adults now have Curious Accountability to propel them forward toward their goals with greater ease.
Everyone procrastinates sometimes. It only becomes problematic when procrastination is the norm. Reasons for procrastination include perfectionism, overwhelm, over-analysis, and lack of planning. What can you do when you have a project that needs to get done?
Clear the Decks:
Make a Plan:
Make it Fun: