Wise words, and perhaps the lesson we can learn from failed attempts to change something about ourselves. Consider starting small in 2014. Really small. We like to dream big, but achieving big goals or realizing big dreams takes big work. And the reality is this: big work takes big chunks of time. Do you have that?
We’re creatures of habit. Our brain seeks patterns and repetition, and likes to stay with what it knows. If there is any form of positive reinforcement associated with our habits, it can be a serious challenge to make ourselves do something differently. In fact, when we throw ourselves into some new year resolution type of thing, our body and our brain fight back hard against that massive disruption of the status quo.
Successful long-term change happens over time versus over night. For example: tomorrow you may eat breakfast instead of simply grabbing coffee to go, but you’re not “a breakfast eater” until this becomes daily routine that you accomplish with minimal mental energy, much like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes. The positive of grabbing coffee (quick and no dirty dishes) keeps you in that routine. Change that habit ever so slightly (breakfast doesn’t have to be a major ordeal) and over time you will be “a breakfast eater” – without even thinking about it.
We also have a tendency to see change in ourselves with broad, sweeping strokes. “I want to be healthier”, or “I want to be more active”, or “I want to spend more time relaxing”. What does that mean, in the context of your daily life? What do you plan to do differently on a daily basis to be that new person? Without specificity, where do you start?
This is why I suggest you think small. The change you seek will happen as a steady evolution of your daily habits. And seeing as most of us are over-scheduled and mentally over-taxed, small is all we can realistically handle.
Small is easier to start and easier to maintain. Changing one meal. Taking a 5 minute walk. Reading for 5 minutes.
Small produces less push back. We lock into our routines and our brains hold on tight. Sneak in some small changes and notice how little resistance this creates.
Small builds confidence and confidence equals momentum. Consistency is critical when creating new habits. Also notice how good you feel when you’re consistently succeeding at building your new habit.
And then, small turns into big. Mountains are climbed one slow, small, arduous step at a time, and the ancient pyramids are individual blocks. Drop a tiny pebble into a pond and watch that subtle impact spread wide. That small change you make will create more, and have the same effect in your greater life.
Taking a small step every day will get you there, and not just with the result you want but more importantly as the person ready to maintain that momentum. That new you will be locked on to those new habits, ready to continue until you decide to change again.
Best wishes for 2014. I hope the year brings you everything you need.