Going from zero to 60 is what we all hope for when it comes to making changes in ourselves. What works, however, is focusing on incremental changes.
No one ever lost 100 pounds in a month, even by giving up eating! And even the thought of walking a mile to begin exercising can be too daunting. But walking down the driveway and back up the driveway is possible today.
It is astonishing how good it feels to do something that we know is good for us! It doesn't have to be something huge and, in fact, probably shouldn't be something huge. A small improvement feels just as good as a big improvement. We need successes to lead to more success. Any size will do.
Beginning to do anything starts with that famous first step. We can keep up small incremental steps. That's the secret. Just keeping on keeping on.
I'm not writing hypothetically.
Over many years I was able to lose weight - the same pounds over and over again. And fairly quickly. Both ways.
Two years ago I pondered how I could actually conquer this lifetime seesaw struggle. It hit me that I needed to make a permanent change - not a temporary, 'give it up for lent' kind of change. So I gave up desserts.
I began by saying no to the first bite. It was all the following bites that once led to losing control. Saying no to the first bite saves me from deciding whether or not to have one more chocolate chip cookie or twelve.
It is astonishing how good it feels to do something that we know is good for us! It doesn't have to be something huge and, in fact, probably shouldn't be something huge.
It was surprisingly easy to just stop that first bite once I made the decision. Success followed as pounds gradually disappeared.
Over the past two years I have made other incremental changes. I loved the three hush puppies that came with seafood dinners, even though I knew enough of them became pounds. I stopped eating hush puppies.
It is 16 years since I had a cigarette and I cannot adequately describe how much better I feel. It wasn't my first attempt to stop smoking. A cessation of five years was my previous best. There was a six month and a three year and a thousand few hour successes.
I am not an organized person. But I am getting organized, one closet, one drawer, one room at a time. It has been a long process while sitting back basking in the light of one small success after another before making more progress.
I love how much better my home office looks. I found the secret to keeping it neat. When I bring any paper into that room, I file it right then. I know me. If I don't file it now, it will never get filed. Recognizing that stopped me from rationalizing that it is just one piece of paper that can wait. Rather, it is just one piece of paper to file now.
Success is heady stuff.
And what about being right? I have confidence in myself and know I want to make fair decisions. But, I'm not always right.
I'm not always right. No matter how much I want to do the right thing always, it is not possible. It isn't easy to recognize and admit, but it feels "right." So I am trying to understand others' points of view more and learn from them.
Since I gave up smoking and desserts and am getting more organized, I believe I can do anything, one step at a time. Like the Army Corps of Engineers who were said to proclaim during a war, "We have done so much with so little for so long, now we can do anything with nothing forever!"
Success does indeed feed on itself. Increments lead anywhere and everywhere.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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