The Power Of Incremental Change
Most Of Us Don’t Swallow Our Food Whole, We Savor it in Small Bites- Yolanda Gonzalez
I spent most of my life desperately trying to swallow every goal, idea, or challenge in one whole bite. The outcome often ended in heartburn, upset stomach, or choking, and spitting it out completely.
This way of life made every change painfully hard to digest. I don’t know about you, but I like to enjoy my food. I also like to enjoy my life as much as I possibly can.
I recently figured out why I kept failing at the goals I set. I was too busy trying to hurry and get to the desired outcome instead of pacing myself and learning from the journey. This hurry and swallow everything whole mentality resulted in me giving up on my goals completely, or painfully tackling them in such a way that the overall outcome was lackluster at best.
I always wanted to implement yoga into my life, but I had to be honest with myself. I hated doing more than thirty minutes of it at a time. The last time I tried to incorporate it, I found myself in a gym sitting on a mat with a friend in a room full of strangers for an hour in a half, trying to look as if I kind of knew what I was doing. I left there, never wanting to do yoga again.
One day, I came across a five-minute morning yoga video on YouTube. I thought, what if I just start with five minutes a day? Every day since that day I have completed my five-minute yoga video, and have successfully implemented yoga into my life and have even bumped it up from five to seven minutes. This my friends, is the power of incremental change.
If I decided to let it go just because I was uncomfortable doing yoga for long extended periods, I would have never visited that activity again. Yoga would have been another unfulfilled goal I would have to add to the list of many.
When you implement incremental change into your life, you have the opportunity to slowly build on those bite sizes until you get the outcome you desire. Another benefit is you can enjoy the process and learn the important lessons along the way. Here are a few things I did to make sure I was hitting my target incremental goals and maximizing the benefits from them.
Write them down and plan them out. Write everything you would like to accomplish down. Which ones would you like to incorporate first? How much time can you put towards them without the burnout?
Don’t overdo it. Incorporate no more than three incremental goals at a time. I found that if I implemented too many five or ten minute goals, changes, or challenges at one time, I would find myself back in the same space of burn out.
Be strategic. Part of the issue of tackling my goals was my exhaustion and that stemmed from my sleep and eating habits. My first incremental goals revolved around my overall health. I knew that I couldn’t move on to the bigger things until I got my health and wellness squared away. Strategy can also help you pair goals that complement each other. When I first started, In the morning I did five-minute yoga and then followed up with three-minute meditation. It was an easy transition into the next goal. If you are a writer and want to write for at least fifteen minutes a day, you can add editing for ten minutes afterward. View the possibilities from all angles.
Track. This is an important step as it allows you to reflect and learn to get the most from the experience. Sometimes you don’t recognize the benefits until you take a moment to reflect. I gave up alcohol for 30 days. Journaling along the way helped me reflect on the benefits and tune into the experience. Doing this transformed a difficult transition into one that I appreciated overall.
Have Fun! I know that a lot of us who try to reach our greatest potential can get stuck in the trap of taking life a little too seriously. Life is to be lived and is a journey. We shouldn’t be doing things just to do them or fall into the latest trend just because everyone else is doing it. I learned this the hard way with the cold showers, no Bueno. Some things won’t be for you and that’s OK. Some things will be difficult, but you will learn or reap the benefits in the end. If you realize that there is no fun or no benefit, let it go.