Do you resist change?
Do you work hard to maintain the status quo, regardless of its effect on you?
Is it possible that you might better tolerate change if you approached it in small doses?
All too often, when we think of bringing about change in our lives, we consider making choices that have far-reaching effects, with sweeping consequences for ourselves and perhaps others. These seemingly super-sized changes beget long to-do lists of follow-ups and follow-throughs that can leave us overwhelmed and exhausted before we’ve even begun.
Change often ignites fear within us, so much so that we talk about making things happen but do nothing, or we initiate the first few steps only to abandon our goal because things get difficult or we meet with some resistance or it just requires too much of our energy and concentration. Sometimes we pin our hopes and dreams on big change only to discover that the results weren’t as we had imagined.
Have you ever initiated a big change and then stepped back from it, feeling the need to protect yourself, barricading yourself against the discomfort associated with it?
Have you felt shame or embarrassment at not being able to move forward in the way you had hoped?
This is why it’s so important for us to consider the impact that implementing subtle or small changes can have on us. They, too, can have far-reaching effects.
Some benefits of small change include:
- It is easier to implement.
- It is less difficult to get others to be supportive of small changes.
- Less fallout—subtle changes may not necessitate other changes to follow.
- It provides an opportunity to test the waters and course correct if need be.
- You’re more likely to stay motivated. With small changes, you’re more likely to experience a sense of accomplishment, promoting your next steps (“Since I was able to achieve THAT, why don’t I now try THIS?”).
Here are some examples of powerful yet subtle changes and what their immediate, noticeable impact might be (in italics):
- Take 10 minutes each night to plan tomorrow’s tasks/activities. This may enable you to go to bed more at ease than you would otherwise, feeling prepared and ready to face the next day.
- Set your clothes out the night before. No scrambling at the last minute to find your favorite shirt! You know what you’re wearing, and it is waiting for you to put it on. As a result, you leave the house on time and feel good about starting your day on the “right foot.”
- Begin your day with five minutes of gratitude, or choose to consciously set your positive intention for the day. Before facing the world, you orient yourself positively to it. You continue to notice the things that are going right and are aware of the things that support you in your mission.
- Acknowledge your partner for things you formerly took for granted. Your partner ends up feeling validated and may begin acknowledging YOU for the things you do. Your relationship strengthens as a result of this new attention.
- Wake 20 minutes prior to others in your household so you can peacefully drink your coffee with no distractions. You have a few minutes of quiet that can serve as the anchor to your day. You feel more equipped to handle the busyness that ensues thereafter.
- Take an honest lunch hour, instead of snacking at your desk while you continue working. You feel refreshed and more ready to tackle the afternoon’s work. You honor yourself by giving yourself some time to recharge.
- Delegate a task that can be done effectively by someone else. You may empower someone else by helping him or her discover what he/she is capable of handling. You free up your time and energy for more important or challenging items.
- Make your bed each morning. This can provide you with a sense of order. Also, crawling into bed at night can be like unwrapping a lovely gift, making the process more appreciated and special.
- Plan to meet up with friends twice a month. This gives you something to look forward to and ensures that you are devoting attention to the relationships that are important to you.
- Learn something new because you choose to. You will ignite your curiosity, exercise your brain, and challenge yourself to grow.
- Go to sleep a little earlier. Give yourself the opportunity to have more energy, more focus, less hostility, more patience, and improved overall well-being.
- Clean your desk. Feel like the master of your domain. Instead of feeling overwhelm, feel in control. Save time by knowing where things are. Experience the clarity that comes with clearing the surrounding clutter.
- Stretch, walk, or exercise for 15 minutes. Clear your head, release some stress, breathe fully, and become aware of the flexibility and strength of your body.
The majority of the above examples are relatively small behavioral changes that are within your power to execute.
If you have super-sized changes in mind, consider breaking them down into more manageable phases so you stay the course. You can make subtle shifts and adjustments along the way.
Choose what YOUR small change will be and then experience the impact it has. Share your results in the comments section below!
© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC, Adjusting to Change/Life Transitions Topic Expert Contributor
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