In the helping professions, you can’t help but notice trends that arise within your client base. One trend that has been running rampant recently is the idea that you need to go to extremes to see big results; whether it’s completely cutting something out of your diet to lose weight, going to the gym twice a day, every day, moving to a different city (or state) because you believe there aren’t any eligible partners in your area, or meditating at least an hour every day (from not meditating at all) to get clarity and inner-peace, these are the kinds of radical shifts I’ve had people propose they make in order to get the results they want. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about feeling motivated and excited to make a shift or change in behaviors. The only thing about big, fast change is that it’s not sustainable. You may be able to make a radical shift for a brief period of time, it will feel exciting and you love it; but not long after, the shift is too different from your day-to-day habits to maintain, has lost it’s pizzaz, and starts to feel like “work”. What generally follows, is a downward spiral consisting of some self-shaming, name-calling, “should” thinking, and regression to the old habit you wanted to quit in the first place in order to cope with the fact that you didn’t keep up with your new habit. How does one stop that nasty cycle? Make small changes.
This is why when goal-setting, it’s important to break up the BIG goal into small pieces. Small, incremental changes that you can gradually build on are the changes that are sustainable (ultimately getting you closer to achieving your goals). A few examples, if you are trying to add exercise to your routine, rather than starting with two-a-days (two workouts in one day), start with 30 minutes per day for 4 days and gradually start increasing time and frequency from there. As you are able to continue to stick to your small change, the more confident you will feel about maintaining it, and the easier it will be to continue to make more shifts to gradually implement/extinguish more of the desired/undesired habit. Because you will be able to maintain and build upon what started as small changes, wha-LAH! You have BIG, sustainable results!
What small change are you going to make?