The Beauty of Starting Small: Changing Habits One Step at a Time

Several months ago, a client came to me feeling overwhelmed about how to change her life.  She was eating lots of packaged and sugary foods, she almost never exercised, her house was cluttered and full, and she wanted to change her relationship with her extended family.  She was ready for change, but she had no idea where to get started.

Prior to coming to me, she had made many attempts to create huge change in her life, but her tasks quickly felt too hard, and she just gave up.  She would tell herself she was a failure and that she didn’t know how to make change, which made it even more difficult for her to get started again.  Finally, fed up, she came to me for coaching.

What do you think I told her?

First, I congratulated her for having a clear picture of what she wanted her life to look like.  My clients are very intelligent people, and most have a strong sense of self-awareness about what change they want to make.  If you know what you want to change in your life, you’re at a great starting place! The challenge comes with how to make change happen.  

Next, I recommended that she focus on one realm at a time and make small changes toward her ultimate vision.  It felt difficult and discouraging for her to work on adding better nutrition AND more exercise AND house-cleaning AND improved conversation all at the same time.

By working in one realm at a time, my client’s feelings of competence and achievement built motivation and momentum to tackle more challenging areas.  As she added more physical activity to her life, she gained more excitement to let go of the clutter in her home, which led to more energy to get rid of the sugary snacks, and finally, she found the confidence to have several difficult conversations that she’d been putting off for years. Changing her habits one small step at a time had a huge impact on her life.

Eventually, her successes and achievements piled up like dominoes.  She began to trust herself and her ability to make changes, and with each small change, she gained excitement to take on another.  What’s more, because her changes were small, they became integrated into her life as new and lasting habits. 

So, how do you move past overwhelm and implement change?

Here’s a step-by-step approach:

Step 1. Fill out the core brilliance compass

Print out the wheel and take a moment to fill it out. This will give you a snapshot of the areas of your life that are asking for change.

Step 2. Choose one realm to focus on. 

When you look at your wheel, notice which realm calls your attention the most.  All realms may be wanting attention, but for now, choose just one area.  You don’t necessarily have to begin with what’s most challenging.  Think momentum.  One area may seem like the obvious priority, but you deserve permission to start where it feels easiest. Starting small can help you build trust in your ability to change.

Step 3.  Choose small and attainable steps.

Ask yourself: In the realm you have chosen, what do you need to do to move from a three to a five or from a six to a seven?  This may look like putting the sweet snacks at home into the garbage, taking a 10 minute walk, organizing one drawer in your kitchen, or picking up the phone to call a friend.

Step 4. Notice the shifts you experience.

If the Judge in your mind tries to tell you that you should have already done more, don’t listen!  There is likely a far more intelligent and loving part of you that notices a sense of accomplishment with each little shift.  Breathe this in and embrace how it feels in your body when you make even the smallest step forward.  By recognizing your achievements, you create a success-focused mindset, which makes changing habits easier and easier.

Are you ready to focus your self-awareness and starting making changes in your life? Sign up for a free Discovery Session today to get clear on your next steps toward living your calling with joy and ease.

Three Steps to Dealing with Distractions, Interruptions, and Surprise Opportunities

Three Steps to Dealing with Distractions, Interruptions, and Surprise Opportunities

Let’s say you’ve done the hard work of creating a to-do list, planning your week, and structuring your life to achieve your goals. If you’re like most people, no matter what your intentions are, urgent distractions and interruptions are bound to pop up, threatening to take you off track. When this happens, you’re likely to… Continue Reading

Tracking Intuition: Four Telltale Signs

Tracking Intuition: Four Telltale Signs

I invite you to bring to mind a big decision that you’re facing right now (a little one works, too). Then, ask yourself the following questions—What does my gut say about this decision? What is my intuition telling me? If you aren’t quite sure what your gut or intuition feel like, that’s entirely understandable. There… Continue Reading

The Key to Setting Realistic Expectations: Time Analysis

The Key to Setting Realistic Expectations: Time Analysis

When my clients first come to me, many are stressed out and overwhelmed because they’ve taken on too much. They underestimate how much time it’ll take to accomplish their goals. They’re perplexed about how they could ever find time for themselves among their many obligations to family, work, and community. If you’re like I used… Continue Reading

Choosing imperfect harmony over perfect balance

Choosing imperfect harmony over perfect balance

Last week, I looked back at my client intake forms for the past six months, and I tallied up the words my clients use when they describe the changes they want in their lives. The two words they used most were “clarity” and “balance.” While I love the word clarity, I struggle with the word… Continue Reading