I like to compare our taking small steps to an infant learning to walk. An infant starts with small steps, takes a few falls and eventually he or she becomes the running toddler we can hardly catch. The new year celebration may be over, but are our resolutions accomplished? I think that we can accomplish what we set out to at the beginning of the year, because it’s never too late to start by taking a few small steps. I’d also like to share a great website www.smallstep.gov that is all about helping us to take small steps toward a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle (there’s a separate link for our children too). So, here again is my philosophy about the change process that I share with many experts.
“Small Changes Lead to large Successes” is particularly true for making lifestyle changes. Whether we are looking to improve our fitness level, eat healthier, lose weight, or reduce our stress, ” Start small”. In fact, we can apply this to any project that seems overwhelming and to those we have been putting off. In fact, just last week I suggested this very concept to a client about how to increase the amount of sleep he gets.
So, let’s take a look at some behavioral change theories we might consider :
We are creatures of habit. In fact, our brain has a center called the Limbic Center, which is the center for our emotions, reinforcements and habits. Have a bad habit? Well, the brain doesn’t want us to change it, even if it is a negative behavior and even if it hurts us. How can we start? Make it small!
Habits are hard to change. Whatever habit we are trying to make, change or stop, it is hard work. When we start with a small change, one which we know we can do, we set ourselves up for success. And most of us know that one success usually leads to another. When we break down a project into its simple components and start with one component at a time, we usually feel less overwhelmed and this can lead to more motivation and inspiration. I told my client to increase his sleep by starting with only an extra 1/2 hour. Make it small.
Motivation grows! As we achieve each small success, we feel empowered to continue. Finally, success is not perfection. Experience a slip, mistake or setback? Let’s stop and ask ourselves, what can we learn from and change? Want to become motivated? Make it small and succeed!
Think Positive. Research shows that when we believe in ourselves, when we believe we can do something, we are more likely to do it. When we don’t think something is possible, research shows that even when it is, we are much less likely to achieve success. Make it small to achieve a positive outcome!
So, is there something we would like to achieve? Is there one small step we can take to get started which we know we can accomplish? An example of something small would be something concrete such as, “I will replace the butter on my bagel with fresh fruit jam”. Notice, I’m not giving up the bagel too!
So, let’s not wait another day to get one small change going at a time.
Here’s to thinking about what we can do, rather than what we haven’t done or should!