Small changes, big results
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Go ahead and take baby steps toward the life you always wanted – you just might score big.
So, you’re a Type-A, balls-to-the-wall, over-achiever, huh?
I hear ya, dude. Me too. In fact, if my parents had only known that when they were choosing my middle name, then they might just have chosen differently.
Sure, these tendencies are what make me a go-get-‘em gal – and no one’s going to try and change that. But it’s those same qualities that might also cause me to feel completely overwhelmed.
You know why? Well, the truth is an all-or-nothing approach to life can sometimes get in the way when we’re simply trying to set a few goals. Because of the fact that all we can see is the end result – and we want it, gotta have, must accomplish it right now – our ability to take the steps along the way is completely nil.
For example, are you the kind of person who decides she wants to lose weight, but can’t wrap her head around the time and work it will take to get there? If that’s the case, then chances are likely you seek short-term results instead of long-term solutions. Getting-slim-quick weight loss plans, juice fasts and even diet pills probably sound like a good idea, huh?
Well, if you’ve been down that road, then you know how that ends (not very pretty). I get it – it can be hard to feel satisfied by small victories along the path of seeing an end goal come into fruition. I mean, who really celebrates losing half a pound in a week?
Starting today, you do. Whether it’s going green, breaking a sweat, finding your spiritual calling or raking in the dough, working in small doses can work for even the busiest people. And you know what? Recognizing those accomplishments along the way can lead to a better ability to sustain a goal in the long term.
Consider these (seemingly) teensy things you can do and bank big results:
1. Just run to the next mailbox. When I first began to run more than fifteen years ago, my momma taught me to “just work toward the next mailbox.” What she meant was that when I was running, it was much easier to say, “OK, I just have to make it to that mailbox down the street and then I can stop.” What I found is that I often kept running to just one more “mailbox,” completing a few miles before I realized it.
2. Take five minutes to just breathe. Research shows that a few calming breaths can ease nerves and nix stress. I do this at least 38 times a day and could probably do it even more.
3. Talk to your pets. Yeah, it’s nuts, but who cares? Chatting with a pet can make you feel better about certain issues that have been weighing on your mind. There are no rebuttals, only sympathetic head cocking. Now, just make sure no one is around.
4. Stop overhauling your life. Sure, sometimes we all need a giant shove in the other direction. But often times, some of life’s biggest changes are made more easily with a step-by-step approach. Going on a diet? Change a few habits at a time. Starting a new fitness program? Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t squeeze in 45 minutes – be happy with ten. Love to help animals? Unfortunately, you can’t save every one, but you can smile thinking of the ones you have. By the way, this theory goes both ways: Just because you have one cookie it doesn’t mean you have to have 13. Stop being a hero, damn it.
Now hold on a sec, because I’m about to go all poetic on you.
This approach reminds me of the “Starfish Story,” adapted from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley. The story highlights a wise man walking along the beach when he comes across a young man who is throwing starfish into the ocean, one at a time. When the wise man asks the young man why he is throwing the starfish, he replies that he does not want them to die. The wise man says, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
In response, the young man bends down, picks up another starfish, throws it into the water and says, “It made a difference for that one.”
Whether you’re gagging or not, the truth of that story, and life, is this: So many of us –including me, me, me! – stick to a notion that things have to be ginormous in order for them to count. But the truth is, working toward just small goals can make a huge difference.
And wouldn’t you at least like to know you did a few things rather than nothing at all?
I would. Even if it does mean skipping out on that Firm Butt in 30 Days program that totally would have given me the booty I’ve always wanted.
It so would have.
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, TheGSpotRevolution.com and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, PA. Caroline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.