Taking small steps is a known pathway to successfully reaching your goals.
Did you know that It is possible to reach your goals with very little conscious effort on your part?
As you learn a new skill or practice a different behavior, new neural connections are built in your brain. Unfortunately, much of this learning is blocked by fear that triggers a fight or flight response at the idea of CHANGE.
When the steps are small enough, you can’t fail because your brain doesn’t see the change as something scary that will take a bunch of energy and is a big opportunity to fail.
Robert Maurer, author of One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, says, “Small steps are an effective, enjoyable way to achieve a specific goal, and also meets life’s constant demand for change by seeking out continual, but always small, improvement.”
3 Real Examples of the Magic of Small Steps
One sugar granule at a time
An English woman, who routinely put 4 teaspoons of sugar into each cup of tea, realized she must change this habit.
With willpower and determination, she was able to remove 3 of the 4 teaspoons, but could not cut out the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.
So, one day, she removed 1 granule of sugar from the teaspoon, and dumped the rest in her cup.
She removed one additional granule each day until the teaspoon was empty.
It took a year.
She still drinks her tea without sugar.
Baby steps off the couch
Julie is a busy, full-time working, divorced single mother of two. Lately, Julie has been worried for her health, but feels overwhelmed by her enormous responsibilities at work and home.
Julie also has less obvious fears that compete for her attention. She is afraid of losing her job, afraid for her children’s safety, afraid she isn’t a good mother – and afraid of disappointing her doctor for not following the recent instructions she received to exercise daily. The overwhelm became so much that she eventually stopped seeking medical care and found herself relying on TV and junk food for comfort.
When she did go in for a physical, her doctor told her to stop making excuses for herself and asked her to find ways to move her body every day. He suggested taking small steps, like marching in front of the TV while she watched her favorite shows.
One day, Julie marched in front of the TV for 1 minute of her nightly downtime on the couch. After a few weeks, she marched throughout a full commercial break. Then, two commercial breaks. And then she forgot to stop.
Julie finished her second 10 K running race recently and is considering training for a triathlon. She feels like she has more control in all aspects of her life and is proud of herself for setting a good example for her kids. A win-win!
Kick a lingering habit
Caroline is a 45-year-old woman who lives an independent and self-reliant life, so much so that she finds it difficult to rely on or receive comfort from others. She has never really confided in or revealed herself to another person in any personal way, even in her romantic relationships. She has wondered if that is perhaps why they never seem to last very long.
Caroline counts her cigarettes as friends. When times are tough, she takes her “best friends” outside and she smokes. The nicotine lifts her spirits when she feels down and calms her nerves when she feels moody and anxious.
Caroline has been able to stop smoking for 1-2 months at a time several times, so she has the self-discipline to quit, but always returns to smoking when she is bored, upset or around certain people.
Finally, Caroline met a counselor who suggested taking baby steps every day and offered to help her through the process. This was the plan: Every day, Caroline called her counselor’s voicemail and said, “Hi, its Caroline.”
Caroline made a pact with herself long ago to never become fully reliant on another person, so she lived a life where dependence on others is avoided. Calling and leaving a daily voicemail tested this. It also taught her that it is safe to connect with another person and rely on someone other than herself.
As this step became less scary, she would call right before smoking and say, “Hi, Its Caroline. I’m having a cigarette now!”
Calling and leaving this message made Carline vulnerable, something she specifically avoided in her life. But because it wasn’t scary or risky, she could practice feeling vulnerable and could develop a taste for companionship.
It also put some space between her and her “best friends”.
Once she mastered this step, Caroline began to write in a journal for 2 minutes every day. She imagined a human best friend who was with her all day, every day. She asked herself what she would like the friend to do at any given moment.
After 3 months, Caroline had cut back her on her cigarettes by 30%.
Caroline began calling people she knew, connecting and reaching out to those who seemed worth the risk.
When she felt ready, Caroline tried a smoking cessation technique she had tried before, and this time, she was successful.
“When you improve a little each day, eventually, big things occur. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually, a big gain is made. Don’t look for big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it will happen, and when it does, it will last.”~ John Wooden, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball
We’re Here to Help
Often, habits and addictions have deep roots and to change the habit, the deeply rooted cause must be addressed. If you are struggling with an unhealthy habit for addiction, please reach out to the team at Amaze Health. We have medical and mental health professionals ready to help you. Connect through you Amaze account, or call (720) 577-5251.