Don’t Do Nothing: Making Changes One Small Step at a Time

by Mark Beauchamp on January 18, 2011

mary engelbreit don't look back The new calendar year presents a natural time to pause and reflect on the last 12 months, as well as to take some time to plan for the next 12. What changes do you hope to make in the New Year?

As humans, we aren’t such big fans of change. Change means altering learned behaviors and habits, thereby creating new patterns and new ways of thinking. (Ouch, that’s hard to do!)

On our seemingly perpetual quest to find the right path to a sense of well-being, we can be overwhelmed by the many challenges that change presents. Even knowing what step to take first can be a deterrent.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-tzu

Many teachers, authors, and my own life experience, have taught me some effective methods to make changes in my own life. I hope you’ll find these ideas helpful, too.

My first and best advice for making a lasting change is to decide upon a goal that will motivate you, something you really want to accomplish, something you are passionate about. The goal that you decide upon is not the change you want to make. Rather, it will be the result of the changes you will be making.

For example,

“I want to lose 10 pounds.” I don’t think anyone ever got passionate about this. The reason is because this is a change not a goal.

“I want to lose 10 pounds because my doctor told me to.” I still don’t feel the passion. Besides, it’s almost impossible to change when the goal comes from someone else.

“I want to lose 10 pounds so I will look awesome in my new bathing suit when I go to Hawaii next month.” This change has a stated goal with a bit more passion behind it, but what happens to the commitment after the Hawaii trip?

How about this?: “I want to be able to play with my new grandchild without getting tired, and walk with my friends in the morning, and go on hikes with my husband like we used to without my knee hurting, and, I want to look awesome in my bathing suit when I go to Hawaii next month.” That’s a well thought out goal, but what change will need to take place to help accomplish the goal? “I will need to lose 10 pounds.” This change has behind it goals which are deeply felt with a greater sense of commitment and passion. This kind of goal has what it takes to motivate someone to achieve a lasting change.

It is the larger goal, and the passion you feel, that will give you the strength and motivation to successfully change a habit pattern. You must be committed to the goal. With passion, comes purpose. With passion, comes a mental and emotional investment that must come first. Once you have crafted your passionate purpose, use these tips to implement your change. It’s your life; it’s worth your time and best effort!

  • Get advice. Find someone who is successful in the area in which you wish to make a change. Have a friend who has lost weight or lives a healthy lifestyle you want to emulate? Ask how he started. Know someone who lives sustainably or in an “eco-friendly” way that you admire? Where did she begin?
  • Create a plan. A goal without a plan is just a wish, and you can put that on your wish list. But if you have a plan, you have a roadmap to success and you know what it will take to get there.
  • Start small. Break up the steps in your plan into easily achievable tasks and build from there. Let’s say you want to be more physically fit – a very common goal. If you’re not currently very active, start by walking around the block or simply stretching for 10 minutes every day.
  • Evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Maybe walking around the block is not your thing. That’s ok! Try something else. Evaluate whether a particular approach fits your life. If it doesn’t, it’s not failure, just an opportunity try a different path.
  • Keep moving! With each small success, you build toward achieving the greater goal. And with each small failure, you learn how to adjust and build flexibility into your plan. The important part is to keep moving.

Continual improvement is one of our core beliefs at Café Yumm!.  We push just a little further than is comfortable and strive to be innovative and creative, always with our company mission and values in mind.

We know we can continually improve our commitment to sustainability: more local, more organic, better energy use. For example, we recently announced that we will be serving Oregon-grown Organic Black Turtle Beans and we’re on the lookout for new ways to build relationships with local farmers.

This change means that we have to adjust our processes, our expectations and our systems. To get there, we’re taking it one step at a time, evaluating what works, what doesn’t work and we keep moving forward.

For me, personally, I’m focusing on balancing the business and personal aspects of my life, which have a great deal of overlap. I take the continual improvement mantra to heart and this year I will do so with this idea of “balance,” and creating more of it.

This is our first blog post in some time. We’re looking forward to a challenging and successful year. We’re planning on more regular posts in 2011, and yes, we have a plan to achieve this goal! So please share topics you’d like to see us talk about on the blog, too. We’d also like to hear about your goals for 2011.

Top photo credit: Mary Engelbreit
written with Kelli Matthews

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karli 01.22.11 at 12:11 am

Absolutely brilliant! I enjoy reading your posts… and I look forward to your future blogs. I heart Café Yumm!

Esther 12.26.12 at 3:47 pm

Sage advice. Thanks!

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