Small Changes, Huge Results

All of a sudden, hitting my 5.3 mile walking goal has become easy. All it took was the weather cooperating, and one simple change in my routine.

Last year, I’d decided to park in the most inconvenient spot possible at work – the back corner of the top floor of my parking garage. That way, I’d have to walk further to get to my desk. It was something I abandoned when the daily temperatures starting falling uncomfortably close to the freezing point of water, and I’d gotten quite comfortable parking at one of the best spots at my workplace (something easily done, when you get to work at 4:45 am…).

Back when I made that decision, I promised myself that I’d resume the inconvenient parking once the weather got better. Well, yesterday morning as I was driving to work, I remembered that promise I made to myself. And, even though I really didn’t want to do it, a promise is a promise. So I parked in the far corner of the top floor of the garage, and made my way in to work. And I hit 5.3 miles without hardly trying. Because it’s about a half mile from my desk to my car, meaning that this one little change added an extra mile to my walking distances for the day.

That got me thinking. It’s easy to focus on big changes, to look for dramatic ways to “shake things up”, when you’re trying to get started (or even when you’re “just” trying to push through some mental resistance). The big changes feel great, because they’re spectacular and they really make you feel like you’re accomplishing them when you succeed. Sadly, you’re far more likely to fail at them – after all, it’s so different from what you normally do that it’s completely foreign.

Small steps, on the other hand, are just that: small. Just a little change to your normal routine. It’s not hard to eat two eggs instead of three, when you have breakfast. Or to get a small ice cream cone instead of a large, if you order dessert. It’s not hard, not really, to park in a different spot and walk a little further. But little changes, as they accrue, really build up. And they build up in a way that keeps you from noticing how many changes you’ve made, because at no point do you feel like you’ve made a dramatic change. Instead, you just wake up one day and your habits are completely different.

So, if you’re struggling with something, stop trying to be dramatic. Decide what you want to do, and then make one little change that will take you in the direction of that goal. And then make another, and another.

You’ll be there before you know it.

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