The Ripple Effect of One Small Change


I’ve been tinkering with the idea of “change” as of late. It is a scary word that implies imperfection. If you want to make someone feel terrible about themselves just stare into their eyes with pity and with a slow head shake say, “You’ll never change”. If there was a way to destroy someone’s self esteem this is it.

So change we must.

The decision to change always starts with identification of something we are unhappy about. For example, I always hated the fact that all the weight I gain turns into fat in my midsection.  I often fantasize about a walk-in closet style fat burning machine. I imagine eating a jarful of Nutella then entering into a room and poof! Instant Slimming! That’s how creatively lazy I am.

In reality I only got as far as finishing the jar. I am yet to find the magic room.

It’s not a revelation that there is no magic room.

Even in the smallest detail, life is all about effort.

Change and Effort are one fat couple that weigh heavily on our shoulders. We suck so we must work harder to not suck anymore. Since we want to get rid of the negative stigma attached to the thought, we plan a massive and instant undertaking. Starting Monday, we will become a new person. No matter how determined we are, the decision to change everything about ourselves all at once, on a Monday nonetheless, doesn’t stick.

God knows how many times I repeated this cycle.

It is only lately that I discovered that effort, thus change, doesn’t have to be instant and grand. It is perfectly legit to make one small change at a time. So in my journey to become the best version of myself I only changed one thing: My approach.

Change vs. Habit Building

Instead of identifying my shortcomings, I focused on overall improvements. I identified one habit I wanted to build: Walking for 20 mins everyday. It was small enough not to overwhelm me and significant enough to make an impact. I gamified it by tracking it with Nike Running+

In my second consecutive week I was feeling proud of keeping my word to myself. So I added  drinking 8 glasses of water daily as my second habit. Once I nailed it down, it only made sense to work on healthier eating habits, then exercising. I am currently using Strides app to track my habits and my current list looks like this:

habit tracker

As you can see, it is a small list but it got me into a different mindset. I am building new habits instead of making big changes. And I am all about building things. Checking off an item on my list makes me happy and keeps me motivated. (Blog Entry 1? Check!)

Most importantly, just by accomplishing the few things I have on the list, makes me feel like I can take on the world.

So world, beware. Here I come!

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