Focus On Small Shifts Not Big Changes

As we get close to the new year, this is a time that many people use to make positive changes in their lives. I gave up on making resolutions long ago as I find that I do better to make whatever change I need to make in the moment rather than waiting for an arbitrary time or date. That doesn't mean that I think using the first of the year as a time to make a shift in your life isn't a good idea. It's a good idea if it works for you!

The thing that I think doesn't work for most people when it comes to things like New Year's resolutions is the idea that changing everything at once is going to be sustainable and yield big results. It's probably not. Most people can't handle a complete overhaul on their own for very long. It's also important to remember that there is no magic pill or miracle solution to whatever your problem is. Most of the time a plan, some hard work, and determination are the only things that are going to solve your problem.

It's much easier to focus on making small shifts rather than hoping an overhaul will happen. Think about whatever problem you are trying to solve in the same manner as training for a race or painting wall. You don't just go out and do a half ironman triathlon without training. You don't just throw a bucket of paint onto the wall and hope that it covers everything. Both of those things require small calculated moves to get you to your end goal. 

For example, several years ago I quit putting sugar in my coffee and a year or so after that, I switched to decaf coffee. Almost 100% of people who I tell about either of these things say "I could never do that." But the truth is, they could, they just don't know how to start. I didn't just stop putting sugar in my coffee and start drinking decaf all at once. It was a process of small shifts that amounted to a bigger change. I started by slowly cutting down the amount of sugar I put in my coffee and stuck with it until it tasted normal to me. Then I put a little less in until that tasted normal to me. Eventually coffee without sugar tasted normal. I took the same approach to switching to decaf. I started with fully caffeinated coffee and slowly started adding decaf until there was only decaf in the mix. This was a little harder since I didn't have taste to go off of, only the way I felt (this also minimized the caffeine headaches). 

Here are five things you can do to make small changes that will have a huge impact on your life:

1. Vision

In order to make anything happen, you need to have a vision of what you want. Is it something that you need to achieve first in order to get to something else? Where do you see your life going over the next five years? How does what you want fit into your life as it stands now? If you want bigger more general changes think in broader terms. What will you do for work? What do your relationships look like? Where do you live? The more detail the better. In order to know where you are going, you need a vision.

2. Break it down

Your overall vision can be overwhelming, especially if it's a long way from where you are right now. In order to avoid the feelings of being overwhelmed by how you will get there, break it down. Days, weeks, months, years. This will give you something to focus on each day that will help you move closer to your overall vision. It gives you small, actionable steps to get you to where you want to be. Like the race example I used above. Most athletes have a training plan. They know what they are doing each day and how that fits into the bigger weekly and yearly picture. 

3. Focus

Make these shifts and overall vision a priority. You most likely won't get where you want to be by fitting your actionable steps into your "extra" time. You need to shift some things around and make time to work on your goals. Athletes don't train for races in the time they have leftover at the end of the day, they make some sacrifices, adjust their schedules, and make training a priority. Focus your energy on where you want to be not on what's keeping you from getting there.

4. Acceptance

Accept where you are right now. Blaming your current situation on anyone or anything else will not get you anywhere. Whether or not you are happy with your current situation or progress towards your goals, own it. If you aren't where you want to be, don't think that you've done something wrong or bad, just acknowledge it and move on. Take responsibility for getting where you want to be, because no one else can do that for you.  

5. ACTION

Unfortunately, nothing will ever happen if you don't take action. Nothing changes when nothing changes. I know it sounds silly, but it's very true. Taking those small, actionable steps each day is the only thing that is going to get you anywhere. 

So, find your step one and get moving towards your goals in the new year!

Linking up with Amanda.