There is a saying that “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Let’s think about that in terms of change occurring in our lives.
Change can be very challenging. Most people struggle with it. Even if you’re open to change, and even if the change is safe, our habits and our fears may keep us locked away from changes we truly desire in our lives.
The Approach to Change Is Key
To achieve real freedom or healing in our lives can require significant change, but making the change doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you look at “how you do everything” and see a lot of drive, ambition, and even aggression, it can be useful to experiment with baby steps.
Changing Your Daily Routines
A useful first step to try making small changes in your daily routine. For example, drink a full glass of water when you wake up. We’re not talking about major dietary or health changes here. We’re not even talking about eight glasses of water per day. We’re simply choosing to add additional hydration at the beginning of each day by drinking a full refreshing glass of water.
Here’s another example. Imagine that you want to lose weight and become more active. Joining a gym or fitness program may be too big an initial step. If that’s what you’ve always done (or tried to do), and it hasn’t worked for you, try a small step. In this case, a literal few small steps. This works just as well for those who tend to delay or procrastinate, as for those who push themselves too hard.
Studies have shown that women between the ages of 18 and 30 who walked at least four hours a week were 44% more likely to lose weight. That’s great, but we’re not going to attempt to achieve four hours of walking per week. Our initial goal will be to walk to the corner and back. If there’s no corner near your house, walk two buildings down, or even just 100 feet, and turn back. Don’t walk around the block, just take a very short walk (perhaps after dinner) that will take you less than 10 minutes, and keep that up every day for a week. In this case, “cheating” consists of walking too much. If you’re eager to walk more, you can do that in a week. This walk, however, is simply to the corner and back. Your goals are to succeed and to create a small new habit that can later be expanded on.
Setting Up Small Wins
There’s been plenty of proof that setting up small goals, and then chaining them together, works extremely well for most people trying to make a change. It is important to choose goals that are trivial initially. This is how you would teach a small child if you love them dearly and wanted them to learn to succeed. If you’ve never taught a child, think of teaching a puppy. You would not give them a “stretch goal” where they were likely to fail and have their self-esteem hurt.
Instead, you would ensure that the challenge you offered them was completely winnable, and then appreciate and praise them for achieving it. After having them complete this easy challenge several times, so that their confidence was strong, you would make the goal incrementally more difficult. In other words, you wouldn’t move the goal post very far. You would simply add one tiny step more to the challenge and ensure that they would win. This would stimulate and build their mental and physical abilities in a healthy and nurturing way.
Be Kind to Yourself During Periods of Change
Be just as kind to yourself as you would be to that child or puppy. If you want to make a change, and you’ve failed in the past, break that change down into the smallest first steps, take them one at a time, and repeat each step several times before going on to the next. Baby steps can help you overcome the challenge of making changes in your life.