Anchors

A mechanism for handling change is to focus on the constants in life. Let’s take a physical example of stretching your quadricep, while standing on one leg. To keep your balance, it is helpful to focus on a single point in front of you. I have begun to notice this anchor pattern sprinkled throughout life.

  • Difficult Decisions in the Workplace

    When faced with a challenging decision at work, the core values upon which the company is built can help you reach the right choice. Care deeply about your users? Go with the option that puts them first instead of alternatives that increase runway at their inconvenience.

  • Meditation

    A technique in meditation is to focus on one’s breath because it remains constant throughout the session. I try to imagine my mind as a highway, with each thought being a vehicle driving along it. Attempting to control a passing thought is like stopping traffic, which runs the risk of getting “hit.” Instead, I find it helpful to take a step back, label the thought for what it is (worry, stress, feeling), and return to my breath as an anchor.

  • Boredom

    At its core, boredom is a dissatisfaction with the current state (surroundings, people, etc.), wishing to be in a more interesting one. Once I started viewing boredom through this lens, it became easier to address. When my mind wanders, I try to acknowledge the presence of boredom and return to the current state as a point of focus. If you want to learn more about this method, it is called mental noting.

  • Handling Habit Streaks

    When I first got into habit formation, I used to focus on keeping ‘streaks.’ This is known as the “Seinfeld Strategy,” where the fear of breaking a streak is supposed to motivate you to keep a habit. However, I found a big flaw with this approach. Breaking a streak can be tough to handle emotionally. Take exercise as an example. If I made it into the gym 20 days last month, it is tempting to focus on the days I missed going to the gym. To avoid this mental trap, I remind myself of the underlying goal that has not changed. My desire to build a better self. These goals serve as an anchor to handle the variability of life that may interrupt daily habits.

It is fascinating how sometimes the best way to handle change is to focus on what stays the same. Notice this pattern in your life? I would love to know!