The Simple Solution to Changing Your Habits Successfully 39

change habits start small

Like everyone else, I’ve also been trying to change my habits for years, and have often failed.

I tried to change my diet and start eating clean from day one, I wanted to be able to write every day, to go to the gym 5 times a week, learn a foreign language in a short time, and so on.

And none of these attempts were successful.

Soon I realized where my mistake was – I always tried to make big changes.
And every time I had to put too much effort and use all my willpower.

So a few days after I thought I’d implemented the new behavior, or a week or two in the best case, I was back to my usual daily round.
And, of course, felt even more discouraged and disappointed in myself after that.

I started thinking about that, analyzing my mistakes and following other people who have succeeded in changing their habits.
It all came down to one thing – starting small – and it was more important than I could imagine.

The Benefits of Starting Small

  • it’s easier to do it this way as the beginning is usually the hardest part;
  • you use just a tiny amount of your motivation and willpower;
  • change doesn’t feel that drastic;
  • you see progress sooner as the first step is ridiculously easy;
  • you feel more motivated to keep going once you start;
  • you make it impossible to say ‘no’ to the daily action that needs to be taken;
  • you show yourself that you can do it;
  • you’re more likely to succeed;
  • after that the next step doesn’t seem that scary;
    and so on.

How to start small?

Simply make it so easy that you won’t be able to say no.

Want to start eating healthier? Do it by adding just one fruit or vegetable in your menu.

Or getting up early? Set an alarm for 2 minutes earlier each day. This way in a month you’ll be getting an hour earlier without even realizing it.

Want to start blogging? Then post one or two paragraphs each week.

Want to start meditating? Begin with just a few minutes each day.
Or running? Start by just going out for a walk, then run for 5 minutes.

What about quitting smoking? Let’s smoke 1 cigarette less a day.
Or letting go of negative thinking? Start by substituting one negative thought a day with a positive one.

That’s how we form habits.

No one said it should be difficult, with a lot of effort and sweat.
Yes, it will take time and persistence, but it can be easy and simple at the same time.

Just doing the habit is what you need so that you brain can make it a routine.
It doesn’t matter if you do it right, or if it’s just for a minute, or if it has any result.
Just do it today, then tomorrow, then the day after.

And when starting is no longer a problem, you can move on to improving your performance and make it more challenging.

Our main problem is that we aim too high when we have a new behavior to adopt.

We start big, want to be perfect, to see results fast and have big expectations. Also, we live in a society where things change quickly, and no one asks whether you find a hard time adapting.

But if you let go of these ideals that you have in your mind of how fast success should come, you will be able to focus on making just one small step each day that will take you to the biggest transformation in your life.

Here is one inspiring example of how many great things start small:

“The other day I was listening to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and I found it amazing how this book, which has now sold over 15 million copies, originally started:

I prepared a short talk. I called it ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ I say ‘short.’ It was short in the beginning, but it soon expanded to a lecture that consumed one hour and thirty minutes.

After giving this talk for some time, Carnegie found that the attendees started discussing their experiences and some “rules” emerged. Eventually the talk became a course, and there was a need for a textbook of sorts. Here’s how the now famous book became a reality:
We started with a set of rules printed on a card no larger than a postcard. The next season we printed a larger card, then a leaflet, then a series of booklets, each one expanding in size and scope. After fifteen years of experimentation and research came this book.

I found that absolutely fascinating – the book came out of a short talk and a few notes on a postcard-sized piece of card. Interestingly, I think a lot of the really big successes start like this.”

So what do you think about that? Is starting small that important? And has it worked for you?

See also:

The secret to changing your habits: Start incredibly small
How simple mini habits can change your life
The biggest reasons you haven’t changed your habits
How to start
Sticking to a habit: The definite guide
5 reasons we can’t change our habits

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9 Ways to Handle Change in Your Life [Infographic] 19

9 Ways to Handle Change in Your Life [Infographic]

When a big change happens in your life, it doesn’t have to be a negative change to have a huge impact on you.

Change causes uncertainty and our brains and bodies react to uncertainty by trying to protect us with the release of fight or flight chemicals and hormones.

The downside to this is that living with these for an extended time results in elevated heart rate and affects your digestion, immune systems and blood flow.

But there are ways you can regain control over your life even in the midst of big changes.

The first is to take a step back and reflect on what’s actually happening and what your involvement is, which will help you to understand and find perspective on the situation. Hopefully, this will enable you to find the opportunities that every change in your life brings, rather than obsessing over any short-term negative impacts.

It may also help you to allow yourself a transition period where you adjust to the changes. But with a firm deadline by which you expect to have moved on and settled into the new routine. Even if it doesn’t quite work out that way, it will still push you towards visualizing the end of the uncertainty, which will prepare you to make it happen sooner rather than later.

On a more basic level, you need to remember to look after yourself during this time of change and the related stresses.

It can be too easy to fall into bad habits like neglecting your own simple needs, like a good night’s sleep and staying active and eating right when you are going through something like this. Having a day in your pajamas eating ice cream out of the tub is fine. But your body needs sleep, exercise and nutrition to keep you healthy.

Routine can be a comfort when it feels like everything in your life is changing.

So try and stick to some simple ones like walking your dog every morning or going to a regular gym class to give your life some stability and consistency.

You also need the help and support of those around you. And having a strong support network is crucial when it comes to coping with big changes in your life. This means family and friends, but you could also seek out people going through similar experiences by looking online. There may well be communities who you can talk to and get helpful tips from.

Most importantly of all, you need to be aware of when you need more than just the love and support of other people to help you cope with stress and uncertainty. If you start to feel like your mental health is really suffering, or you have been feeling the symptoms of stress for more than a couple of months, you need to go and talk to a health professional to get the help you need to bounce back.

You can read more practical tips about dealing with change and the symptoms it causes in this infographic from Pounds to Pocket.