(7) Agree on Contingencies, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Alright friends. This is the last of our coconut posts, aka how to solve any problem (🥥) you have. If you need a refresher on what we’ve done so far, click HERE before reading on.

Good work on all these problem solving steps (if you’ve been following along)! We’ve come a long way!!! If you missed these posts, really, go read them before progressing on to today, and you’ll get more out of it. Because today we are going to take that decision we’ve made to solve our 🥥 and agree on contingencies (what do do in certain situations), monitoring (how we will supervise this) and evaluation (ways we can tell progress).

Here is an example where I take us through ALL the steps from beginning to end:

  • identify the problem = 😭 friends won’t hang out with me because I smell like sardines, 🥥 you don’t want to do what is required for change 🚧 because you should be able to eat what you want
  • understand everyone’s interests = friends don’t like the smell, you like the sardines, husband is tired of having to listen to all your “girl chat” since you no longer have friends, kids are sick of eating sardines too, your parents are tired of getting phone calls from friends about your breath, cat loves you more than ever and sleeps by your face, coworkers have started burning candles at their desks but are much to diplomatic to comment, strangers no longer smile when they pass you
  • list the possible solutions = keep eating sardines, stop eating sardines, only eat sardines on special occasions, brush your teeth more, also use mouth wash, also floss, also buy a tongue scraper, also buy mints, get new friends, stop dumping all your “girl talk” on your husband, get online friends, hide from your parents friends, spend more time with your cat, buy sardines for everyone and get them obsessed too
  • evaluate the options = keep eating sardines (can’t do that because I miss having friends in real life), stop eating sardines (can’t because they are SO good), only eat sardines on special occasions (might come to this), brush your teeth more (really good idea), also use mouth wash (also good), also floss (I’m just not that dedicated, won’t happen), also buy a tongue scraper (ouch no), also buy mints (yum, mentos please), get new friends (well I like my friends), stop dumping all your “girl talk” on your husband (this is probably pretty important), get online friends (good idea for when I do eat sardines), hide from your parents friends (not possible, they’re like super spies), spend more time with your cat (totally valid after eating sardines), buy sardines for everyone and get them obsessed too (I just don’t see this happening, people are so grossed out by them which is weird and unfortunate)
  • contingencies, monitoring, evaluation =

contingencies

  1. If it is a special occasion like my birthday or something, then I can eat sardines.
  2. If I eat sardines, then I need to brush my teeth and use mouth wash right away.
  1. If I have smelly breath, then I must suck on a mint.
  2. If I have lots of girl topics to talk about, then I must find a friend other than my husband to chat for hours over.
  3. If I have sardine breath that won’t go away, then I should only talk to online friends.

monitoring

  1. Sniff checks by hubby in the morning.
  2. If coworkers light a candle go brush your teeth.
  1. See how much attention you get from the cat.
  2. Call your parents and see if they’ve heard anything lately.
  3. Whisper secret and watch to see if friends back away from you.
  4. Set limit of 5 cans a week and then take stock of sardines and see how fast they are disappearing from pantry.

evaluation

  1. Try this plan for 4 weeks.
  2. At the end of each week check with friends, husband, cat and parents.
  3. See if we need to create more contingencies.
  4. Decide to try another 4 weeks or revise plan.

Okay, so I’m pretty sure your problem (🥥) is not eating too many sardines. Pretty sure. But as you can see ANY problem can be completely examined using this method. And we can come up with legit plans to actually fix those 🥥!!! So tell me… what are you waiting for? What am I waiting for? Let’s run a few problems 🥥 through this methodology and start making progress.

If you didn’t immediately run from your screen to go solve your problems… hi. Since your still here I’ll show you a hysterical Veggie Tales skit on sardine breath. You’re welcome. 🐟


(6) Document the Agreement(s)

Guess what friends. It’s time for me to get back to my series on problem solving and solve a problem I have. See, it’s super easy to tell yourself that a problem is actually just a quirky feature of your personality. But if it’s hurting YOU (and you only have 1 year left until you turn 40) you should sort it out. So that’s what I’m going to do.

NOTE 1: Above you will find my weight loss contract. This is one of the last steps in problem solving. After you know what to change, you have to commit to that change. This contract can be used with any issue (🥥) really. You would just fill out the sections as they apply to your problem that you are determined to solve!

NOTE 2: I just want to point out that I have blanked out two numbers in the contract below. I know what they are and that’s all that matters. This is not about comparison, it’s about what YOU are committing to do to change YOUR life. Or in this case… what I’m going to do.


(5) Select an Option

This is Reepicheep, my parents Russian Blue kitty. He is going precisely… nowhere… because he’s between two stairs. You can’t get anywhere like this. And if you are trying to solve a problem (🥥) then you’re going to need to pick a step, which is honestly quite harder than it seems. It’s a choice to change. The kitty in this picture does not want to change. He likes being in the middle. Picking one step over another is harder than laying in between. But as Reepicheep once said in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, “Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” So friends… we need to make some choices today.

Looking back to my past coconut posts, aka how to solve any problem (🥥) you have, let me remind you of what we’ve done so far:

Good work on all these steps! We’ve come a l-o-n-g way together in reaching this point of selecting an option. If you missed these posts, go read them before progressing on to today, and you’ll get more out of it. Because today we are going to take the options and decide what to do. We’ll ask, what’s the best option, in the balance? Maybe even is there a way to “bundle” a number of options together for a more satisfactory solution?

I’m going to give you an example to help make this nice and clear. Below I’m going to show you a problem that has been taken through all 4 steps listed above, so we can see how to choose a solution:

None of your friends will hang out with you anymore because you smell like sardines. 🐟 (This first statement is where you throw what you believe to be your problem on the table. We will analyze it next.)

  • identify the problem = 😭 friends won’t hang out with me because I smell like sardines, 🥥 you don’t want to do what is required for change 🚧 because you should be able to eat what you want
  • understand everyone’s interests = friends don’t like the smell, you like the sardines, husband is tired of having to listen to all your “girl chat” since you no longer have friends, kids are sick of eating sardines too, your parents are tired of getting phone calls from friends about your breath, cat loves you more than ever and sleeps by your face, coworkers have started burning candles at their desks but are much to diplomatic to comment, strangers no longer smile when they pass you
  • list the possible solutions = keep eating sardines, stop eating sardines, only eat sardines on special occasions, brush your teeth more, also use mouth wash, also floss, also buy a tongue scraper, also buy mints, get new friends, stop dumping all your “girl talk” on your husband, get online friends, hide from your parents friends, spend more time with your cat, buy sardines for everyone and get them obsessed too
  • evaluate the options = keep eating sardines (can’t do that because I miss having friends in real life), stop eating sardines (can’t because they are SO good), only eat sardines on special occasions (might come to this), brush your teeth more (really good idea), also use mouth wash (also good), also floss (I’m just not that dedicated, won’t happen), also buy a tongue scraper (ouch no), also buy mints (yum, mentos please), get new friends (well I like my friends), stop dumping all your “girl talk” on your husband (this is probably pretty important), get online friends (good idea for when I do eat sardines), hide from your parents friends (not possible, they’re like super spies), spend more time with your cat (totally valid after eating sardines), buy sardines for everyone and get them obsessed too (I just don’t see this happening, people are so grossed out by them which is weird and unfortunate)

I am going to choose the following option from the list above to be our solution = only eat sardines on special occasions. This will be our main focus from here on out, although as we continue along you will notice that I pull ideas from our other options to help build our contingency plans. So there it is, we are going to stop laying between the steps of eating all the sardines and wanting friends we don’t have. We are going to choose change. Choose taking this hard step of limiting our sardine intake to allow for an extraordinary destiny with our friends.

Next step will be documenting this decision so I want you all to make sure you are satisfied with the solution you have chosen. If you have followed the steps laid out in these posts I believe you will be both satisfied and prepared to make this change. So take a moment and use the example I laid out above to guide you in picking a solution to your own personal 🥥. No time like the present!


Mouse, Jesus Loves You

You had no idea how much it would hurt
You didn’t see it coming
You thought today was just another day
Or tonight another night

But you have been seen and cried for
But I stopped and noticed
But I prayed that you would see Jesus
Or at least feel his touch

Always try to fasten your soul to hope
Always keep moving forward
Always resist fear
Or at least try

Because there is so much more than this
Because life does go on
Because our souls are lighter than our bodies
Or he cares more than you know

You are HIS
But you are HIS
Always you are HIS
Because you are HIS

or soon I hope you understand just how much HE loves you and me…

Note: I actually did write this post about a mouse. Today as I was returning to my car I saw it, and felt so sad. I stopped and took a picture because I wanted you to see it too. Why? Because this is life on earth my friends. It’s awful and hard and tragically sad as often as it’s beautiful. And while we can’t get trapped in fear we CAN feel seen. I saw this mouse today. If you are struggling with feelings like what I pictured above I hope you let the poem I wrote sink into your soul. Because God loves us more than we can take in. He is holding us now, no matter what our lives look like, and can’t wait to have us with him forever soon. Mice die here. But they don’t die in heaven. There is so much more hope than this world can offer.

🐭 message me if you want to talk more


(4) Evaluate the Options

Yesterday I spent 3 hours sewing this dog for my youngest daughter. She had been begging me for a homemade toy so I sat down and made it. Because I’m a stay at home wife/mom I take my duties seriously and often prioritize meeting their need first 24/7. This is not healthy and I realize that, but I also need to take their demands on my time into account because moments like this one (above) are not something I will give up.

Remember step 2, where we tried to understand everyone’s interests in this issue? This is where we put that information to use. Let’s look over the list of solutions we made yesterday and evaluate them based on the interests of me AND others in my life. To keep this step simple to explain I will reuse the example from yesterday and add the evaluation step:

  • Liposuction my husband is against all unnecessary surgery
  • Go away to a diet ranch my kids need me around
  • Actually stick to a diet I really stink at this
  • Actually stick with exercise I stink at this too
  • Hire Athlete Courtney Ustrzycki to train me – I wonder if she can fit me in… that would be cool
  • Take diet medication not sure any actually exist that work
  • Gym as soon as I drop kids at school – I really really should do this!!!
  • Find an accountability partner – maybe Courtney and/or Rosalee
  • Give up Diet Coke – I really should do this, but my kids now like it too… should no one drink it?
  • Eat only when the sun is up I do this anyway so it’s not really a thing that’ll help
  • Drink lots of water – I need to do this. I’m bad at consistency
  • Give up alcohol – I need to do this too, wasted calories
  • Switch to black coffee I’m not ready for this yet
  • Prioritize sleep (at least 7 hours a night) – yes
  • Start lifting weights I don’t know how to do this
  • Stop eating junk food – this is a MUST
  • Only eat at home too challenging with travel
  • Give up Starbucks no, I could give up Starbucks food but not coffee
  • Find a diversion when I’m hungry too vague
  • Buy a Peloton my butt was not built for a bike seat
  • Use my treadmill – good idea
  • Start memorizing bible verses instead of snacking – actually a great plan
  • Bribe myself for weight loss with rewards – my husband is fully supportive of rewarding me
  • Find something physical to master I don’t know what this would be so it won’t work for me
  • Keto – possible
  • Decide I don’t actually care enough that it’s no longer a problem at all I am not okay with this

So this is what I have to work with: hire Courtney, gym after school drop off, accountability, give up Diet Coke, lots of water, give up alcohol, prioritize sleep, stop eating junk, use treadmill, memorize verses instead of snacking, bribe myself for weight loss with rewards and do keto. These are all things that I CAN do. After a detailed review, there is nothing stopping me. I feel like this is a big step. I love excuses. I make them all the time for why I can’t prioritize my health. But these solution are not playing that game. There is no reason why I can’t do them. None. I’ve checked.

If you have been taking your personal issue (🥥) through these steps I feel like you should be pretty excited right now. We have done some big important work and you should be proud. Next we’re going to figure out exactly HOW to make this happen. 🙌🏻


(3) List the Possible Solutions

I’ve decided to share my problem (🥥) with you in today’s post. We all have one, but this is mine:

I don’t want to do what is required to change my BMI compounded by the feeling that it is so much harder for me because I don’t like being hungry or exercise.

Ever since my youngest was born (7 years ago) my weight has gone ⬆️ and ⬇️ because I just don’t want to do what I need to do to change. Confession made. Now this is the fun part of problem solving… brainstorming. Here I can get as creative as I want and come up with possible solutions to my 🥥. I will list away as they come to mind:

  • Liposuction
  • Go away to a diet ranch
  • Actually stick to a diet
  • Actually stick with exercise
  • Hire Athlete Courtney Ustrzycki to train me
  • Take diet medication
  • Gym as soon as I drop kids at school
  • Find an accountability partner
  • Give up Diet Coke
  • Eat only when the sun is up
  • Drink lots of water
  • Give up alcohol
  • Switch to black coffee
  • Prioritize sleep (at least 7 hours a night)
  • Start lifting weights
  • Stop eating junk food
  • Only eat at home
  • Give up Starbucks
  • Find a diversion when I’m hungry
  • Buy a Peloton
  • Use my treadmill
  • Start memorizing bible verses instead of snacking
  • Bribe myself for weight loss with rewards
  • Workout rewards too
  • Find something physical to master
  • Keto
  • Decide I don’t actually care enough that it’s no longer a problem at all

Now here’s your assignment: I want you to drop in the comments what your 🥥 is and then start thinking of possible solutions. There is no judgement or reality in this stage; just think of anything and everything that might help you. If you are feeling shy and don’t want to put it all out there then don’t! Or send me a direct message using the CONTACT form. Either way do it. I did!


(2) Understand Everyone’s Interests

So we’ve decided that our problem (🥥) is that we don’t want to do what is required for change (wrapped in a complaint like “I hate going hiking every time my husband and I go out together”) blocked by the notion you should have to be dealing with this in the first place because of xy and z (such as none of your friends always have to go hiking with their husbands). It would be great if we could jump right into solving this problem but we don’t quite have enough information to do that yet. We have to get an understanding of how others interests will effect our ability to make the change.

See, the solution to our problem won’t work UNLESS everything and everyone we want to include is satisfied by our solution. We often ignore our true interests as we become attached to one particular solution. So who will be effected if I change this, and do I care? Let me list all the types of people who would be effected by a change in my life: myself, husband, kids, friends and extended family. There may be other people who need to be considered in your solution. The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone’s interests (especially when you’re a mom).

The step we will be working on today is active listening and information gathering. You will need to explain the way you want to actually start making changes. See if the people in you life have any concerns or suggestions and listen with the intention to understand. Let me give you an example:

I want to actually do what it takes to do something with my husband other than hiking. And I need to figure out how this will effect the following people:

myself – I will need to assert to my husband that I want to make a change and come up with alternate activities. It won’t be easy to begin this conflict.

husband – My husband will have to be more flexible in activities. Not sure how that will go.

kids – If my husband doesn’t agree with the change and I really want it to happen, there may be conflict that effects the kids.

friends – Hopefully friends wont get involved but if they do I will have to consider how it would effect friendships.

extended family – Again hopefully extended family won’t get involved but if it becomes a problem that gets relayed to others I will need to be prepared for that as well.

Now that you have gathered this information you can move onto the next step which will be brainstorming solutions. And because you took the time to do a little research you can make quality decisions there. Maybe you are going to decide to prioritize some feedback over others. Maybe you can now see more clearly the difficulties involved in making this change.

And remember, the random example I gave above is only to show you how to go about collecting information. You need to insert your own particular 🥥 in there and ask some tough questions of yourself and others in your life. If you do this you will be ready for the next step! Keep up the good work!