The Little Guide to Starting Small
Every lasting change that I’ve made has started with one small step. I’ve made my share of “go big or go home” moves, but after awhile my momentum waned and the new habits faded. In the last five or six years, I wised up. My changes have been slow and deliberate, instead of fast and furious.
Life changes all the time, so we have to change too. We can’t treat our bodies like we are 22 when we are 42. We can’t be as self serving as we were before we had children. We can’t ignore the health implications of diet and lifestyle when we know so much. We can’t work soulless jobs when we know they are killing us. We can choose to change or we can wait until we don’t have a choice.
How often have you considered making a change and then thought …
- “It will take to long”
- “I don’t know if it will work”
- “People will think I’m weird”
- “Someone else already did it better than I can”
- “I’m not ready”
- “I don’t want to”
- “I could never do that”
- “Why bother, If it ain’t broke…”
I’ve used every excuse in the book and hope that I can save you the trouble of working through them on your own. Excuses typically aren’t well thought out, reasonable objections, but instead, an expression of fear to change.
I hope this will help you take those excuses off the table.
“It will take too long.” It will take just as long regardless of the start date. If you start today, you’ll be in a better place next year. If you start in five years, you’ll be in a better place in six. Right now is the right time.
“I don’t know if it will work.” You’ll never know until you try. If it doesn’t work, find another way.
“People will think I’m weird.” People will think you are weird and that won’t kill you.
“Someone else already did it better than I can.” Ask them how they did it. Learn from them and then do it your way, ’cause you can get better at anything you want. You have one thing that no one else has. Your life experience and your uniqueness.
“I’m not ready.” You will never be ready because you don’t know what you don’t know until you get started.
“I don’t want to” You don’t have to want to. Instead, want something as a result. For instance, you don’t want to give up sugar, but you want to be healthier.
“I could never do that” Of course you can. Breathe. You’ve got this.
“Why bother, If it ain’t broke.” It is broken.
With any change that you make, you must be kind to yourself. This intentional change may be new territory and no one said it would be easy. You aren’t perfect and you can’t control everything. Things will get in your way. You will get in your own way. That’s ok. It’s part of the process.
- Allow for the ebb and flow of your motivation and dedication. There will be a day that you feel like giving up. It will pass.
- Ask for support, but don’t rely on it. This is your life and you can’t expect a team of cheerleaders for every move you make.
- Don’t wait until you’re ready. Extensive planning, lengthy spread sheets and thoughts of starting tomorrow are all your way of resisting change.
Pick one of the following changes or make up your own and start small today.
Paying off debt gives you the freedom to make decisions based on something besides money. This is the exact formula I used for getting out of debt:
- Read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
- Save $1000 in an emergency fund.
- Write down all of your debt, except for your house payment. Keep up monthly payments on all bills but put more towards the smallest debt. Some will argue that you should pay the debt with the highest interest rate first, but I disagree. Pay off the smallest debt first and let the joy of accomplishment motivate you to pay the next. Start small and knock them out, one by one.
Dave offers other steps, but this is all you need to know to successfully pay down all of your debt. This doesn’t happen overnight, but when it happens, it’s worth every minute spent.
Becoming Clutter free takes time. It often involves three steps forward and one step back. Start with one box and the corner of one room, or a table top or counter top. Clear the area donating or trashing that you don’t need. Declare that space your clutter-free zone. Pretend that anything that touches that area will go up in smoke, and be vigilant about keeping it clutter free. Enjoy the empty space, and use the feeling of clarity from an uncluttered space to give you the momentum to start another area. Read the Clutterfree book that I wrote with Leo Babauta in between decluttering to learn why you have that clutter in the first place and how to get rid of it for good.
What do you want to change about your diet? I wanted to stop eating meat, but it didn’t happen overnight. I stopped eating beef and pork first. After a few months, I dropped poulty and then 2 years later, I stopped eating fish and seafood. Today, I am happy to say, I don’t eat anything with a mother. If for health or other reasons, you want to make a dramatic change in your diet, start with a small change. When the change becomes “the new normal”, start working on the next small change.
Are you doing meaningful work? Be careful how you answer the question. Meaningful can be a variety of things. Things like creating art, saving lives, inspiring others, feeding your family or employing other people. Starting a new career or business is scary stuff, but the rewards are amazing when you find the right thing for you.
If you find that right thing and decide to leave your current job, take slow, deliberate action to move towards it.
- How much money do you need (not want) to make to change your work situation? If you are debt free, this part is easier.
- Brainstorm revenue streams. This may not apply if you are taking a salaried or hourly position. Write those revenue streams down and see where the money will come from. Reading Smalltopia by Tammy Strobel helped me think that through. Also read Your Money or Your Life.
- Start saving. Set aside 2 or 3 months of living expenses so that you don’t feel pressured to make your new business perform overnight. If you are leaving a good paying job to go out on your own, you will hustle.
- Don’t marry your business plan. If you decide to work for yourself, give your business the flexibility to evolve and change.
- Dump bad ideas. If you are starting your own business. You will have amazing ideas, life changing ideas and crappy ideas. Don’t be afraid to let the crap go so you can focus on the amazing.
You might have to build your business while you are still working a day job. While you think that may be exhausting, if you are building a business that excites you, you will have more energy than you think.
The changes I’ve made are universal to some degree or another. Who doesn’t want to pay off debt, eat healthier, or become clutter-free? Once I made those changes, I had the confidence to quit my job and start my own small business.
Adapting easily to change is a great skill to have in life and business. The best way to get more comfortable with change is to initiate it. Don’t wait for life to happen to you. Have reasonable expectations and remember that overnight success typically takes years. Start small and the result will be life changing.
Lastly and most importantly, remember that life goes on while you are making changes. You can’t put things on hold until you are out of debt, skinnier, healthier or in a better mood. Life is happening right now and it is up to you, regardless of circumstances to choose how will experience it. Don’t wait. Choose lovely.
What change are you going to make? Let me know if you need help with the first small step.
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