The pillars of good health are Sleep, Exercise, Eating, Drinking, and Stress management (SEEDS). Yes, “SEEDS” is cheesy as fuck, but the metaphor of planting small SEEDS (i.e., behaviours that are good for you) and watering them every day so they can take root (i.e., become habits that you don’t have to think about them constantly) is consistent with the science of behaviour change and habit formation. So, while the acronym may be the Celine Dion of behaviour change, it WORKS. Besides, what’s life without cheese?
For each of these pillars of good health, think of a tiny thing that you can do to contribute to it. The journal is not the place for grandiose, aspirational intentions (e.g., “run 5km” or “eat no added sugar” if you’ve never come close this in the past), or the fat-chance outcomes (e.g., “get sleep 8 hours per night” when you’re currently getting 5 hrs). In SEEDS, we’re focusing on tiny little behaviours that contribute to good outcomes. The behavioural science is that focusing on SMALL behaviours builds the correct mindset and contributes to knock-on effects on other changes in that Pillar. In short, progress begets progress. So, an excellent way to think about each SEED is that your reaction to it should be “shit, even I could do that,” not “urgh, I mean, I’ll give it a go but don’t hold your breath.”
Simon likes to use three SEEDS per pillar, for a total of 15 teeny-weeny daily habits stored in a collection called a Pod. If that sounds like A LOT to you, he recommends you prioritise them. The leftmost column is the most important. Once you’ve done these consistently, try the others. Regardless, try first to enter all fifteen in this exercise.
You’ll see that this also gives us a way to way to measure progress and consistency. We give you a score (/15) for how many you managed to do that day. The importance of the score will become more evident when we progress to Phase 2 of our Celine Dion exercise, the veritable Kenny G of stress management mojo – a Traffic Light system to avoid catastrophizing, awfulizing, and why-can’t-I-do this-izing, when life gets in the way (because it will). We need to give ourselves permission to occasionally suck at adulting.