Small Steps Can Lead To A Big Life!
Time off for the Christmas holidays is a splendid time to think about what you want to do differently or add to your personal or work life in the coming year. Holiday messages are constant through every media imaginable, from Christmas cards to social media, focusing on love and hope and wishing everyone the best of the New Year. They are beautiful reminders of what life can be.
People promise themselves this year will be different! Then January arrives, with bills, work, more work, and issues put on hold for the holidays. A resolution to make changes turns into “perhaps I will start tomorrow…or maybe next week.”
Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break unless you take these changes slow and easy.
Slow And Easy
It becomes an overwhelming burden when we take on too much change simultaneously. It is no longer fun, motivating, or exciting; any goal should be one of those three things. Otherwise, is it worth doing?
First, successful people know that changing habits of thinking and behavior (which aren’t getting them where they want to be) requires making changes one small step at a time.
Think about how much change you can handle, and permit yourself to go slow. It is far better to go slow than to stop altogether from being overwhelmed. Some questions to think about:
- Would it be more beneficial to me to have 90-day goals or break down a year-long goal into 90-day or shorter phases?
- What small steps can I take for each goal, so I am not overwhelmed? (If you want to lose 20 pounds over 12 months, it is much easier to work on losing 5 pounds every three months—a piece of cake! Oops, poor choice of words.)
- How do I want to celebrate each milestone?
Decide which goal or modification is the most to least important to make it easier. Then, focus on the most important.
Using SMART Goal Language:
Think of your goal as a movie, and you are the star. Then using SMART Goal Language isn’t dull. Break the goal down into manageable steps.
Be Specific: Use solid and exciting words that describe what you want. The description must be compelling and motivating. Write them down. Research has proven that people who write down their goals and strategies are highly likely to achieve and exceed them by building on each success by achieving new goals to continue their growth.
Write your goal statement that reflects what you want and how you feel when you achieve it. It should bring some level of excitement when you reread it. For example, when I think of the movie Top Gun, I remember how exciting it was. Top Gun “inspired a generation to fantasize about taking F-14s as high as they can go.” (Chris Thilk, www.cinematicslant.com, 5/25/22). This movie inspired many people to join the Navy. Can you give your goal an exciting name to describe your “movie?”
Here are three additional goal examples: “I go from good to great as a leader!” “I exceed my sales target by 20% because of the value I bring!” “Work/Life Balance soars from a 5 to a 9!”
Be Measurable: What will be different when you achieve your goal? How will you know? For Top Gun, one result was the number of ticket sales. In 1997 It was the third-highest-grosser in the world. What evidence do you need?
Attainable: Your goal needs to be realistic. It should stretch you a bit outside your comfort zone without being overpowering. If you want to lose 20 pounds, focus on 5. Once achieved, focus on the following 5. I believe in small, attainable results. Remember, slow and easy!
Relevant: Does this goal align with your values, dreams, and aspirations? If it doesn’t, why not? Perhaps it does not fit with what brings you the job or life satisfaction. If it is a “must do,” can it be changed to “want to?”
Time-Bound: When do you want to achieve your goal? Committing to an end date for attainment provides a focus and boundary around your plan. You want a reasonable time frame to land your goal. Otherwise, it could fly off into the sunset and disappear.
Celebration: I added this element. Celebrate your accomplishments! You are moving forward and not stuck in minutiae. Feel the feeling of attaining small goals. We don’t recognize small gains or celebrate enough.
Any Time Of The Year Is A Good Time To Start
We automatically look at the New Year as THE time to resolve to change. However, remember that beginning a new goal or changing a habit can start at any time. So don’t make waiting until the beginning of next week, next month, or the New Year an excuse for not starting a new goal today. Any time is a good time to improve your life, but you have to want to!
Cedric, the Entertainer, shared a wise thought about making changes: “If it’s something you want to do with your life and you’re waiting for New Year’s Eve to decide, you’re not going to do it then either. But, on the other hand, if you want to change something about yourself, you might as well do it now.”
One Last Thing
You will see if you want to change direction or stay on your current track as you go along. Give yourself permission to experiment and make mistakes. That is how you learn and grow!