One Small Step
Our Biggest Fear
Majority of the people have fear of change, it is probably one of the reasons why we struggle to make improvements in our lives, as it almost always needs a drastic change in our day to day life. Want to loose weight? you need to get up earlier and make time for exercise and you need to also change your diet.
This is why our new year resolutions almost certainly always fail, we sign up for a new gym membership on January 2nd, by march 1st we have forgotten about it. We then blame ourselves for not being discipline enough, and we beat ourselves up, for being lazy, etc.
The one thing that we always seem to forget is that natural and healthy change always comes slowly and gradually. Think about the city or neighborhood you are currently residing in. Look around you and notice how different it looked 20 years back. The change is drastic and yet when it was happening we hardly noticed it.
Over the years slowly and gradual changes were taking place that we did not know of. In fact, look at a picture of you 20 years back, you look SO different! yet, you did not notice the transformation that was happening to your own face while it was happening! Why did we not notice? Simple, because it was too small and too slow a pace to notice.
Good thing about it is that it was slow enough for us to adapt and accept the changes. Imagine if you were to wake up tomorrow and you saw flying cars and motorbikes, you will definitely have freaked out. Imagine you woke up and saw that you aged 20 years over night!
With that being said, it is no wonder your body and natural system will freak out if all of a sudden one day you decide to get up earlier than usual and decide to jog, your body will protest with all its might. Big changes hardly ever yield long term results. Because our natural system will protest and protest and lets face it, not everyone has enough will power to go cold turkey. If you can that is great, but for many of us, we cannot.
Which is why we need to consider taking small baby steps to change.
So many of us have visited a doctor and being told to watch our food in take and exercise more. We are just told that and that is it. I am surprised that no doctor I know of has ever bothered asking the patient about his/her daily routine before prescribing that cliche advice.
What if the doctor is telling this to a divorced mother of three children and has to work two jobs to make ends meet? It is frankly, kind of cruel and the mother will just feel hopeless and probably feel like a looser.
For someone like that mother, just finding a time to sit in peace for 5 minutes in a day is a luxury. But like it or not, she does need to get in shape and does need to get healthy, so how does a person like her find the time and will power to do it.
One way is to start small. I am talking very small. So small that you will hardly notice it. So small that it does not wake up this tiger called Fear in your mind and attack you.
You see, a lot of the time we hesitate to make a change is because we are overwhelmed by the adjustments we need to make. We would finally just give up on it and carry on with our lives, knowing that we need to make that change, for our own well being. Whether it be improving your health, improving your relationship with your spouse, or with your estranged parents.
But when we start small, and we decide to do mundane tasks to change, we will not be so overwhelmed.
Let's take the example of the divorced mother I mentioned above, if the doctor told her she needs to exercice every day for one hour and eat healthier meals. Chances are good her mind will go into panic, thinking how am I going to do that?
But if you told her for just one minute of every hour move around, flex your arms and legs and jog on the spot, She will definitely not mind doing it. who can't spare even a minute??
The Power Of Small Baby Steps
Many of us tend to underestimate the power of small steps. But it only takes a pebble to create an avalanche. Part of why baby steps are often overlooked as a way to find a solution is because of our fast paced living, and it is really not as appealing and exciting as a big bold movie worthy move. We want everything instantly. Fast food, instant noodles, get rich quick. So the logic of this kind of lifestyle is "to get or achieve something fast we need to take big bold steps, otherwise we need five lifetimes to achieve what we want."
Often times, however, what happens is we tend to get overwhelmed by the big steps we decide take. We sign up for an expensive gym membership to get in shape. We go to an expensive family therapy session to fix our family issues and then we will hardly follow up. signing up for a gym membership and looking for an expensive family therapy session is easy, the follow up is the hard part, and this is what we need to consider, whether we will be able to follow up as that is what will make all the difference.
Imagine a family therapy session where you have to sit for hours a day with people you cannot even stand. Some family members are just not ready to take this leap, and it can cause more harm than good. The best is to start small. Start thinking something positive about this family member, think of the good times you spent together back then, start by preparing yourself mentally. start by creating a positive vibe. If you happen to bump into him/her somewhere just start with a smile or hello. You have no idea how much your smile can brighten up someone else's day. You have no idea. Never underestimate the power of a smile.
A single mother of three, will not be able to find the time to go to the gym every other day and work out for hours, without a huge amount of willpower, discipline and sacrifice. Willpower and discipline that many of us will not be able to muster. So what ends up happening is that eventually you give up and you are back to your old habits, only now you have less money in the bank account because of the gym membership you paid for, also your confidence can take its toll because you have once again failed at reaching your goals.
So for those of us who cannot muster up the herculean will power or discipline, the best way is to take small baby steps. If you cannot go and spend one hour or more at the gym, then may be just start by spending 5 minutes or so working out wherever you are in your house. May be when you are watching tv and there is a commercial break, you can work out then. 5 minutes of working out every now and then and before you know it you have already worked out for 30 minutes!
Often times, the person even enjoys those 5 minutes work out and might be motivated to extend that time period and will probably replace watching tv with working out.
Say you are starting out with Hubpages, you make a goal of writing down one article per day, an article that lives up to the high standards set up by the site. If you can do it that is great, but for many of us, we cannot afford the luxury of sitting for hours to make a great article, or find the idea and inspiration for churning one out every single day.
SO we need to make our goals more manageble, may be start with one article a week, spend 5 minutes a day on hubpages, writing an article and by the end of the week you will have an article ready.
The problem is not that we are not great at making goals, we make them at the end of every year under the name of resolution. The problem is we are really bad at making manageable goals..Making goals are easy, making manageable ones are a different story. I wonder why?
The Journey of A Thousand Miles Begin With One Single Step— Lao Tzu
The Sleeping Tiger
As humans, we have evolved with something known as a flight or fight response whenever we encounter a problem. Our cavemen ancestors used to get this response when faced with a predator. For us it is that gym regimen we have to carry out, it is that massive pile of paperwork we need to go through and be done before a certain deadline. This response is activated by a part of our brain known as the amygdala.
This fight or flight response is never a good thing to wake up if we want to carry out our plans. As we will be frightened, overwhelmed, panicked or scared. Responses that are guaranteed to lead you to failure and quit.
So you need to make plans and goals that will not activate this tiger that will attack you. The amygdala is like a sleeping tiger you have to tip toe around. So make small careful steps towards your goals, don't make sudden drastic movements or the tiger might wake up and attack you.
Small manageble steps. Want to reduce your weight by eating less? Simple, start by eating one bite less of that chocolate bar. Throw away the first bite of that chocolate bar. After a few weeks of doing so, throw away the first two bites of that chocolate bar, and so on and so forth.
You are only throwing away the first bite of a chocolate bar, and you won't be so overwhelmed by the prospect of it, and you will be more willing to do that then to have to change your whole diet plan from the ground up, Am I right?
Granted, these steps are small, and it is a slow process, but chances of you succeeding is good. I will take small slow process which I can manage and make a change over big plans that will make my life a living hell and which I will eventuall fail to follow up anyday. Small actions will bring more changes than big plans ever will.