4 Small Steps to Radical Change

last dropBig change doesn’t take a revolution.

Today’s self-tracking devices like Fitbit and the Nike Fuel Band do show that it is not the size of the change, but the tracking of it that is what brings about the revolution. Tracking the change feeds the motivation to continue with each small step.

So, if that works for changing your physiology, what do you do to change your mind, your attitudes, or your emotional being? What motivates those changes.

In South Africa, the Afrikaans idiom for the straw that broke the camel’s back is roughly translated as “it is the last drop that makes the bucket overflow”, which offers a much more graphic illustration of the point.

Both idioms refer to what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his bestseller, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.”

This principle works in reverse too. We often don’t notice a little leak in our bucket until it has emptied so much that we cannot help but notice. This is more like what happens with our mental-emotional selves.

We get busy, we get focused on something or someone, and we put our focus on that. We forget or are to busy to spend time nourishing our minds with reading and great conversation. We skip the things that feed our spirits and keep us connected to our inner world.

Perhaps you are now “too busy” to read. Maybe you skip weekly services or social gatherings because you are too tired. Your hobby lies untouched for months. Slowly, but surely, energy and enthusiasm slips away.

This eventually leaves us, after a day’s work, feeling:
“I am living a bit; I want to live more. but I really can’t do another day’s work on the top of my official day.” (Arnold Bennett).

… and we become “WhenI’s” When I [fill in the blank], I will [fill in the blank]. And that means we live with an uneasy waiting for something to start.

We believe it takes a concerted effort, a vacation, a long weekend, or some kind of break to give us the “space” we need to get going.

However, the remarkable Mr. Bennett was not a complainer, he offered solutions. Here are 4.

  • There is no “magic method of beginning” – you simply begin.

  • Start small. Don’t take on too much in the beginning.

  • A petty success is far better than nothing at all.

  • The gems of time lie in the “margins” of your life – those times between sleeping, working, and the routines of feeding and clothing ourselves.

It is in these simple solutions that you find the time and energy that change you from a “WhenI” to living a little more richly!

The whole point is: it is about a small change in habits.

Make little changes – often – and you will be amazed at the results.

The alternative is that more years will go by before you [fill in the blank].


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Author: Sue Hines

  1. Meredith WoutersMeredith Wouters08-27-2014

    Simply begin. I like that. I think I often make things too difficult by trying to do it the “right” way. Today I got so much done by just doing it, not thinking too much about it so I think this might be my new motto!

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-27-2014

      Sounds good, Meredith. Done is better than not.

  2. Eve KoivulaEve Koivula08-27-2014

    The best and most powerful physical exercise I know only takes 5 minutes a day, but has a remarkable effect on the overall wellbeing. We often mistake life to be about grand things, and therefore it never really seems to start. I feel sorry for those people, because I was lucky to figure this out already as a teen.

    I totally agree with you: 5 minutes is all it takes to change anything. If 5 is too much, make it 3.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-27-2014

      Eve, the mind is a magical thing! It responds to repetition so beautifully. Keep feeding that 5 minutes and it moves mountains!

  3. I think the entire “secret” lies in beginning. Once you put your foot over that start line, the rest seems to come. But I’ve seen how difficult this step is:) And also been a victim of my own fear, in that way. Because beginning something means you have to finish it…at least for me. I love Susan’s comment above…maybe a giant leap isn’t the way to go.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-27-2014

      Jacquie, that’s the power of Nike’s slogan: “Just Do It”. But you are right, the trouble is getting oneself to Just Do It. This is where the idea of Burning Passion comes in. You have to spend time tuning into that.

  4. Thanks Sue for giving us such right on advice. It just takes changing the way you think to make things happen differently.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-26-2014

      Holly – Glad it resonated with you. Sometimes it is not new news, but the way it is presented that hits home.

  5. Susan CooperSusan Cooper08-26-2014

    I try to make small consistent changes in regards to my health – one at a time until I’m used to them and they become habit and then I’ll add another. Like I’ll give up diet soda and once I’ve got that down, then I’ll give up soda completely, then maybe once soda it completely eliminated I’ll switch to just drinking water. It is amazing how making just the smallest changes can really add up over time and make a big difference. You’ve got to start somewhere!

    • Sue HinesSue Hines08-26-2014

      Susan – it sounds as if you have the right techniques to make those little shifts that push you in a completely different direction. While some people can do the big-step/cold-turkey type of change, for most that leads to backsliding and all the demoralizing consequences it brings. Small steps mean low risk and also give the body and psyche time to adjust. Your last line is what it is all about: Start somewhere!

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