Today, on this snowy day in Kamloops, my mind has turned over how everything is connected. My efforts to save money have some how morphed into healthier eating, better moods and better self care. But this is the thing about change – it is minute.
So, let’s go back. This is one of those things that is widely stated and seldom explained. We all seek to be better, faster, smarter, healthier, saner. We all want to know how to get there, as realistically as possible. Except this isn’t what we do. We go from sitting on our ass to deciding we will run a marathon.
As perfectionists we are especially good at this. We look for the best means to improve, the fastest way, the 5 secrets, the 30 day crash course. To some extent I blame our media for this. Have you ever seen a movie where someone ‘gets their shit together’? Generally, it lasts the duration of one power ballad. They go from depressed to rock star in about 3 minutes.
When I first tried to get out of my slump, I tried all the self-help books. I read about motivation, I listened to book tapes, I had a master morning routine – and I was bloody miserable. Even when I dragged my ass out of bed at 5 am I wasn’t empowered, I was angry and bitter! I was doing the actions and getting nothing out of it.
This sucked. I figured I was just a loser. If 4 million other people had this shit ‘change their life’ obviously I was doing it wrong. And I was. I had bought into the ‘4 minute’ change-your-life-in-a-power-ballad dream.
I was making changes that some other person had selected, in a way that worked for them. Not only that, but I tried to generate motivation by berating myself at five am. Can’t imagine why it didn’t work!
So how do we create change?
- Change must be authentic. First, why do you want this change? Is it because you are ‘supposed to’? Or is this something that you truly want for yourself? You will fail every time if you don’t actually want what you are working towards. Second, does this work with who you are? I am not a morning person. I should never be up at 5 am. I failed miserably at working out in the mornings. 5pm? That works perfectly for me. Do some trial and error, figure out what works for you and don’t waste your time apologizing for being your own person.
- You can’t have discipline without love. This was one of my most fundamental realizations. You can’t yell yourself into self improvement. Just like a parent screaming at a child- fear only works so well. Love is the only way to produce real change. Make changes because you love yourself and want what is best for your life.
- Change is tiny and seismic at the same time. Earth does this all the time. Tectonic plates, global warming, glaciers, evolution. Tiny changes add up to monumental impacts. Eating 2 mini-eggs instead of 25. Walking around your living room twice instead of sitting all night. Cooking a meal instead of buying it. Saying yes to a pottery class instead of no. Letting yourself sleep in. Not buying that bottle of wine. You don’t have to do it every day. You don’t have to get it right every time. But every tiny movement matters – you can snail your ass towards any goal. The even more merciful thing is that our brains are constantly being trained. So, what is incredibly difficult now, becomes automated over time. You just have to do it enough.
- Everything is interconnected. Each change has an impact in multiple areas of our life and wellbeing. For example, one less bottle of wine a month translates into 1000 less calories, 20$ more in your wallet, and an extra 15 minutes of time. Cooking a meal for the week translates into better nutrition, which results in better moods, plus you’re saving your lunch money. So, by making a positive decision in one area, we are inherently improving our life in another.
Every decision is an opportunity for a tiny shift. One less cup of coffee is a victory. One bag of carrots. Love yourself into a better life. Future you will thank you.