Think small, not big.
December 19, 2011, 12:31 am
Filed under: Behavior, Body, Mind, Organization, Writing

It’s the season of the New Year’s resolution when many intend to let go of certain negative habits, adding positive behaviors into their daily lives. Research in psychology tells us to avoid the all or nothing mentality of change and to focus on small realistic steps in order to achieve a goal, whether it be losing fifteen pounds or saving up for a new car. Yep. Time to put aside all the grandiose dreaming for a bit and think small. Really, really small.

When you start small – a smile here, a salad there, waking up five minutes earlier instead of forty-five minutes – you begin to build a positive foundation, which will lead to larger steps. When you say, “I can do this thing” it pushes you to “I can do that thing, too.”

With all the images we ingest of seemingly perfect bodies and perfect lives day in and day out, it is easy to trick our minds into an all or nothing thinking. If I’m not this, then I must be that. Or if I don’t have this thing, I must not measure up. Why try? There is so much pressure  in society to self-actualize that even the world of self-help, therapy and stress-relief can induce feelings of panic.

“As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success, we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves, nor will we find compassion.” – Pema Chödrön

1. Be clear.

Set a clear and specific resolution – instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight” say “I will lose ten pounds by March.” Instead of “I will learn something new” you can say “Every Wednesday I will commit an hour of study to Grecian architecture.” When we have a clearer picture of what it is we want, we are more likely to earn it.

2. Stay present.

It’s tough to stay content in the moment, even when we know we are making a positive choice. For whatever reason – stress, time, people – humans do the best job of making excuses to keep themselves from reaching a goal that they actually want. We can be our biggest obstacle to our goal. “It’s too hard.” “I don’t have time.” “My family needs me.” Habit energy is strong, so your will must be stronger. If you find yourself making excuses not to change something that you actually want to change and you know would be right to change, reexamine your goal and see if it is realistic enough for you to implement into your life. This is number three.

3. Get real.

Keep your goals realistic. If you work a nine to five and have to take the kids to school before work, then maybe creating a morning workout time slot may not be sustainable. When you’re also realistic about your resources, obstacles and assets, achieving your goals will become more real as well.

It is much easier to settle into autopilot and accept our negative patterns than it is to break a cycle and begin taking tiny steps down a new path. But the focus on the small step is what carries us to the next one. When we are authentically in the moment of a choice, we can weigh whether it serves our goal or deprives us of our real desires.



1 Comment so far
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That was great. I’m going to print this out and put it on my fridge. xoxo

Comment by Daidree

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