Small Steps to Success: Why Making Small Changes Works
Change, even that which is positive, is difficult. Over time, we get stuck in our ways and bad habits become more and more difficult to break. Yet, we tend to think that making change will be easy and can be accomplished within a very short period of time. Unfortunately, the instant gratification we crave is exactly what hinders us from being successful. The key is to acknowledge and accept that change takes time and requires a longer-term commitment.
A Simple Approach
If you’re embarking on making any kind of change, I propose you take a new approach: trade in the big and lofty goal for small, yet meaningful changes. As you become proficient with each new small change, add in a new one. Over time, you’ll master many small changes ultimately resulting in the bigger goal. This approach works because it gives you time to slowly integrate changes so they are more likely to stick for the long-term. Here’s why:
- Every Big Change is Many Small Changes in Disguise. If you are interested in eating healthier, you’d have to do many things, such as cutting out fried foods, reducing portion sizes, and eating more vegetables. Breaking a big change into smaller changes makes the process more manageable.
- Extremes Don’t Work: When we attempt to overhaul our life, we go from all to nothing, or vice a verse, which can cause us to burn out. Easing into change helps make the change seem less overwhelming.
- It Feeds Our Need to Succeed: If we set out to make a big change but ignore each small step we take along the way, we never feel a sense of accomplishment. Allowing ourselves to master small changes gives us a feeling of success, and the motivation to forge ahead towards the bigger goal.
Maintaining the Right Mindset
Once you’ve traded in the idea of making big changes for those that are smaller, you’ll need the right mindset to ensure success:
- Embrace Change as a Lifestyle. Understand that your pursuit for change isn’t just about the here and now, but something to be embraced for the long term.
- Understand It Is a Process. Accept that the process will take time and will require a little patience. This will allow you to enjoy the process much more.
- Be Realistic. Every person is unique, making some changes easier or more enjoyable than others. Set realistic goals and give yourself time to adapt to each change. Let the success of each passing week inspire you to move onto the next.
- Leave Negativity at the Door. Embrace a positive attitude and think about all of the good that will come out of making the change you want. If you want to lose weight, focus on outcomes such as “I’ll feel great,” ”I’ll prevent the onset of disease,” and “I’ll have more energy,” instead of on what you have to give up or sacrifice.
- Own Your Decision. Your quest for change is a choice. Something inside you caused you to want it. Erase phrases such as “I have to,” “I should,” and “I’m supposed to” from your thinking, and instead, focus on “I WANT TO.”
- Be Committed Yet Forgiving. Saying you want to make change alone won’t make it a reality. Acting on it, however, will. Be committed, and at the same time, be forgiving when you slip up or take a step backwards.
- Keep Things Simple. Don’t over complicate things. Keep your changes simple and manageable.
You have the power to make whatever change you want. It all comes down to having a strong belief in yourself, a commitment to the change, and an approach that works.
About the Author
Brett Blumenthal is bestselling author of 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You and Get Real and STOP Dieting! She has over 20 years of experience in wellness and is certified by AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) and WELCOA (Wellness Council of America). She writes online at www.SheerBalance.com – and has been featured on Yahoo!, Divine Caroline and Intent. She has appeared on NBC, FOX and CBS, and is a regular contributor on Better Connecticut on WFSB – CBS, Hartford and FOX-25 in Boston. Ms. Blumenthal received her MBA and her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.