The 3 Key Decisions Ditching Your Stress

ShiftingChange can be really freaking hard.

I’m not supposed to say that, but it’s true and we all know it. That is why I ask people to remove the word “change” from their vocabulary.

Developing new time management and stress management strategies is easier when you throw out the word “change” (def. make something different) and replace it with the word “shift” (def. small movements over a small distance… ahhh, much better).

This little nugget of advice is often met with blank stares or scoles  from those who think “shift” is just a sneaky synonym for “change.”  Like I’m pulling a Jedi mind-trick on this.

But it’s not.

Here’s an example: Changing cars involves a trip to the dealership. But shifting your car from one gear to another is simply done without much thought and is crucial to getting where you want to go.

Shifts are easier to achieve than change. Shifts are small movements over small distances that yield significant results over time (oh yeah, and usually require much less energy).


The Process of Shifting

So if shifts are small movements that require minimal energy and when strung together can add up to big transition, then why is it so darn hard to get started?

First, you have to have a focus. I enjoy mountain biking and skiing. Rule number two in both sports (rule number one is wear a helmet!) is to look at the space between the trees. Your energy flows where your focus goes. Focus on the trees, and you will inevitably hit them.

The same is true in life. If you focus on all the things that you want to avoid (rather than the things you want to cultivate) you will just get more of the same…

Second, you have to have a meaning behind the shift to make it stick.   Are you shifting towards something positive, or moving away from something negative?  For example, are you looking to create more time and space to focus on your health? Or are you looking to to just stop the hectic day-to-day madness so you can squeeze in a workout?

It’s a very subtle difference at looking at things.  Believe it or not, we humans tend to be more motivated to initially get out buts in gear by moving away from pain than to move towards something positive (hello to the procrastinators!).

Once you you have some momentum, it’s then become easier to make it your shift stick if you have a positive intention behind it.  By eventually framing the meaning of your shift  as moving in a positive direction rather than dwelling on a pain (or something you lack) your energy will flow to positive things that support your shift.

Third, you have to have a plan (even if it sketched out on the back of a bar napkin). All journeys are easier with a map to help ensure you don’t get lost. And the best maps are written down, not kept in your head.  We live in a world that constantly pulls us in many directions at once. Mapping how you think you want your journey to go helps you stay focused and makes getting back on track easier if you do get lost.

Your Homework…

Is to find the space between the trees, figure out how to relieve stress and devise a plan for doing so with just one sentence. I call it the Make Shift Happen Statement and it follows a simple formula:

“I want X so I can get Y with/without Z.”

Let’s fill in the blanks…

  • X= If you could focus on something thing for the next month, what would it be?
  • Y = What could you do if you had more of X (positive spin)? What could happen for you if you had less of X (negative spin)?  Either way gives you some meaning to work with.
  • Z = What might you gain/avoid if you achieved X?

An example would be to say

  • “I want 10 more hours of free time a week so I can workout more without having to miss The Walking Dead to do it.”
  • “I want 10 more hours of free time each week, so I can focus on my relationships with no stress or guilt.”


Summing it up:

Shifting is easier than change, but it can still be awfully darn hard to get started. Over the next month I will walk you through a system, helping you choose what to focus on and devise a plan for making your shift happen.

Once you learn to make small shifts, you can map a path to permanent improvements in any area of your life.

So what shi(f)t are you going to make happen?  Post below.


Life’s short.  So, make shi(f)t happen!


PS. Know someone who could use a little help shifting in a better direction?  Send them this post.

About The Author


Whitney, author of the forthcoming book "Making Your Shi(f)t Happen: A 6 week bootcamp to prioritize, organize, and simplify your life", helps professionals get waaaay more done in far less time (with far less stress), so they can get back to the important things in life. She is a wife, mom and lifestyle strategist. Grab her FREE videos here.