I was thinking the other day, “Why is it so difficult to change something?”
Sometimes it’s a habit we want to start.
Sometimes it’s a habit we want to stop.
As I was thinking about this, I thought about a small project a friend of mine is starting. I said small because it’s a small thing to me but to her it’s HUGE. (I have a tendency to do that. You know, not really listening to someone’s else’s unspoken words.)
Do you do that?
Let me explain.
She has been wanting to paint her kitchen table for years. But she’s one of these people who is simply overwhelmed by such a project. So I told her today, “Let’s go for it.” But then I started outlining all the proper steps she would have to take to do it the “right” way. You know, sanding, priming, painting, and then painting again. Letting the paint dry for twenty-four hours between coats, etc. In other words, making it a long drawn-out affair.
I could see she was feeling overwhelmed and felt totally unqualified to take on this project. I could’ve let it go and said to myself, “Well, if she’s not willing to do it the right way……” But is the so-called “right” way to tackle a project, the “right” way for everyone?
So I thought about it some more.
“Hey, Sandy, (not her name), how’s about we don’t take all those steps? If it doesn’t last like it should if we did it the other way, you can just freshen it up every year. How does that sound? Can you live with a little imperfection?”
I could tell it was just what she wanted to hear. I gave her some paint and sandpaper and suggest she just take a few minutes and lightly sand one of the table leaves and then put a coat of paint on it and see what she thinks. The whole process wouldn’t take her more than about thirty minutes.
One easy step. And I knew that getting her started on the project would motivate her to keep going.
You see, that’s the way it is with almost everything. We get overwhelmed when we look at the entire project, or the habit, or the “whatever” and we don’t know where to begin.
The best way to do it is to ask yourself that oft-quoted question, “How do you eat an elephant”?
One bite at a time.
It’s how we do everything and anything successfully.
When I went back to finish up my college degree I was doing just fine until I started thinking about the upcoming two years and the forty-minute trip each way before I would finish. I almost gave up until my husband stated the obvious, “Just plan for one day at a time. Don’t look ahead any more than twenty-four hours”.
He was right. (I am referring to those habits (stopping or starting) that can be taken one day at a time, not those for which immediate change is necessary due to health reasons).
Another example: When I was finally able to walk again without limping (after numerous foot surgeries), it was hard to commit to it every day. But I would just tell myself, “Rebecca, you only have to do fifteen minutes and then you can quit”. I knew I could do that much. But I never once stopped once I hit my fifteen-minute goal.”
It applies to everything. Can you do it for just fifteen minutes? Can you avoid that dessert for just fifteen minutes? Can you avoid that drink for just fifteen minutes?
You are not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax.
Master the minutes. Then just keep doing that every day.
But instead of just avoiding something, how about initiating something? Can you exercise for just fifteen minutes? Can you read for just fifteen minutes?
It’s amazing how effective it is to simplify our goals down to fifteen minutes. I just read the other day about someone who said they had always wanted to be a writer. One day they realized that if they just wrote a few minutes every day, writing would eventually become a habit. It did, and they wrote their book.
Believe me, I know that fifteen minutes can seem a lifetime when you’re trying to change something. If you can’t do a whole fifteen minutes, do only ten, maybe only five. The point is whatever you are trying to change, make it “doable”. And for some people that means baby steps.
Just try to eat that elephant in one meal. Not going to happen.
There are other people who can simply jump in and get going with no problem at all. We are all different when it comes to what motivates us. For some people, it’s that BIG challenge. For other’s, it needs to be small increments of time.
You might find this interesting. When it comes to cooking a big meal for a number of people, guess who gets overwhelmed?
Yep, that’s right. Me.
My friend? Not at all.
To repeat, we’re all different.
I don’t know what you’re trying to change in your life but I know that success will require a constant effort every day. If you think about all the days though and not the minutes, it will feel impossible. So think about the minutes.
I probably haven’t written anything you haven’t heard before. Hey, I’ve heard it all before, too. But I needed to remind myself anyway so there’s that.
Changing a habit, whether it’s to give one up or start a new one, is hard. I’ll be first to agree. I love this next statement:
If anyone has ever done it before, then you can.
If no one has done it before, you can be the first.
God bless and have a good day.