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Changing and developing habits are two of the most important processes that are part of your personal growth.

Smiling at one person each day can make you friendlier and more positive about life. It can also make others like you and want to spend more time with you.

Saying something nice like thank you every now and then, or making a little compliment to someone you love, can fix a relationship and make it last a lifetime.

If every week you get up 15 minutes earlier than the previous one, in 2 months you’ll be a morning person, getting up 2 hours earlier than you do now without realizing it or making any effort, and will have more time for yourself that will help you plan your days and get stuff done in the early hours.

If you stop visiting second-hand shops (like I did because it was an awful habit of mine to buy more clothes than I actually needed just because they are so cheap) and buy fewer clothes through the year – but better ones that actually belong to a proper brand – you’ll become stylish, look more professional and fashionable, be more confident and feel good about yourself.

My point with all these examples is that tiny changes like these have a huge impact on our life after some time.

Why small changes matter the most?

Most people underestimate things like flossing just one tooth, meditating for just one minute or running for five.

But that’s how habits are created and it’s the only way to make a permanent change in our lifestyle without using up our willpower and trying hard day after day.

Stuff like that matters the most simply because our behavior (and who we are and what our life looks like) consists of repeated actions – good or bad, often done unconsciously – which is what brings success and happiness. Or the lack of it.

The good news is that we can start our transformation at any moment.

Honestly, the only time it’s too late is when we’re dead. Any other time you consider not right, too early, too late or else, is an awful excuse you make and a lie you keep telling to yourself.

So stop that and see the possibility of change that’s everywhere around you.

So far, so good.

But change scares us. And that makes us dread making even small steps that take 30 seconds of our day.

What causes that is our attitude – we’ve always connected change with effort, sweat and doing stuff we don’t like and want.

Why change scares us and what to do about it?

We think about it all the time, we worry, think we may fail and feel hopeless, insecure and lose point in doing anything at all.

You try to plan how your transformation will look like, you constantly remind yourself of the thing you’re trying to give up or do more or less of.

All that makes even the smallest action like not eating the whole packet of biscuits but only 2/3 of it, or smoking one cigarette less a day, feel like something big, which is the main event of your day and prevents you from enjoying any other thing you do.

Then it’s time to change that attitude.

Ditch your expectations, don’t complain, don’t speak about the little daily change, don’t compare it to the way other people make changes, don’t prepare for it.

In fact, don’t think about it at all. Just do it.

Something that will be of great help is to put it right after something you do each day (that will be the trigger and your reminder) and have a small reward after that.

For instance, after you get up and brush your teeth, do your daily dose of flossing/meditation/exercise/etc. In the beginning it must be the tiniest action possible that takes no time.

And then have tea/coffee or breakfast, or something else that you usually do after that and enjoy. This will be like a reward for the new thing you just did.

That’s the best way to start developing habits without any pressure and trying too hard.

But what if you want to make another type of change, like to stop doing something?

Small steps are also the solution here.

If you want to stop buying stuff online, start by reducing it to once a week (assuming you do it twice).

If you find yourself checking email every 20 minutes, start by not doing it before 9 a.m. Then choose a bigger interval.

You get the idea.

The two most important things to keep in mind about change and developing habits

Whatever it is that you want to change, do it in small steps, for a short time.

The second thing to remember is consistency. It doesn’t matter whether you want to develop, replace or give up a habit. What you need to do is repeat the action (or the lack of it) every single day/week/month/etc.
Without consistency, there won’t be any progress.

Being the most positive person for a day will bring you joy, maybe even a new admirer. But then you’ll go back to being negative.

But if you notice only one of your many negative thoughts for the day and replace it with a positive one, after some time you’ll become happier, will be surrounded by other optimists, will have new friends and will always grab the attention with your new personality.

See also:

How small changes make all the difference in your life

How I changed my life

How simple mini habits can change your life