Small Steps, Big Results

A lot of folks set out with sincere and profound determination to lose weight, get in shape, change their eating/sleeping/workout habits, stop smoking, and ultimately change the whole world – all at once!  So today I decide to go from an overweight, non-exercising, smoking, drive-thru bandit-ing, sleepless soul to “healthy” tomorrow.  Maybe I get online, I research some healthier eating plans, I join a gym (and plan to get there 6 days the next week), I go to bed early and set my alarm for 2 hours earlier in the morning, I donate to my favorite charity and I pack my lunches for the next week!  YES – I’m armed, I’m ready! I can DO this!

Three days later I find myself hitting the snooze button, sneaking through the drive-thru, falling asleep at my desk, wishing I had an extra $50 in my pocket and feeling like a big giant failure.  But I *want* this?  Why do I suck so bad?!

Well the answer is – I don’t suck. And neither do you.

We’ve all got the best of intentions and each time we endeavor down a path like this, we really mean it.  “THIS time is going to be different, I’m going to stick with it, I’m going to get it done!”  Sound familiar?  But this is simply too much, too soon.  We don’t operate like that.  Not only are we creatures of habit (which take a lot to break and replace with new ones), but our bodies also need to time to warm-up to what “change” means to it, to build and adapt to the new stressors and demands we’re placing on it.

Think about how you learned to do simple division.  Most likely first you learned to add, then you learned to subtract.  After that, you learned to multiply.  It’s only after mastering all of those skills were you ready and able to learn to divide.  Each of those skills builds upon the other and without one, you would not be able to perform division.

“Change” can be thought of as a learning process as well – there are stages we each go through when adopting a new behavior or adapting to a new environment, and with each stage we learn a new skill that will help take us to the next level.

So often we think we should just be able to flip a switch and “just do it,” skip straight ahead to division, so to speak.  Yet no one would expect a child to learn to divide before learning addition, subtraction and multiplication – why in the world do we expect ourselves to “just do it” after years of learned behaviors without going through the process to learn the new ones?

This is why we find ourselves in this repetitive pattern of starting strong, faltering, and then thinking that we’re simply not strong enough, that we’re just failures.  Imagine if you were told that as a child when you got a division problem wrong.  Or, at the risk of sounding cliche (I can’t help myself really ;), each time you fell off your bike.  This is no different.

Start small, learn one new skill – take on one new change at a time.  Get good and comfy with it, then add a new one.  One small step at a time gives you and your body a chance to learn, adapt, and grow.  One small step at a time will yield big results because it will afford you the opportunity to stick with it – it sets you up for success.

What’s one small change you can make today?
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