Why Small Changes Matter (and How to Set Realistic Goals)
We often associate change as needing to be a dynamic, spectacular sequence of events. We focus on the big milestones, the ones that seem to permanently alter the course of life.
And while great risks can undoubtedly come with great rewards, it may be even more important to focus on the undeniable benefits of making smaller changes. That's because, in most cases, success occurs gradually- one block at a time. Subsequently, you need to continue making positive steps in the right direction to achieve sustainable results.
Let's get into more reasons why small changes matter- and how you can start implementing more realistic goals in your life.
Understanding the Small Change Compound Effect
Imagine you set a goal to graduate college. But let's also say you have a job, family, and household responsibilities. As a result, attending school full-time isn't feasible.
Instead, you decide to commit to one or two classes each semester. You study hard, attend each class, and continue chipping away at that degree. Maybe you even squeeze in more time by signing up for an additional weekend or summer class.
What happens? You eventually get that degree! It may not happen as quickly as you wanted, but when you set your mind to achieving a task, you learn how to orient yourself and prioritize completing what needs to be done!
To highlight another example, let's say you want to improve your physical health. You may be tempted to start a crash diet and exercise religiously each day. And while you may observe some exciting results, this intense pace can quickly result in burnout.
On the other hand, you can make a small, manageable change by adding more vegetables to each meal and carrying a water bottle with you when you go out. This habit may result in better energy and improved physical well-being, which may compel you to maintain your momentum (without feeling like you need to change everything in your life all at once).
Tips for Staying Consistent With Your Goals
Small changes can lead to extraordinary results, but consistency is key to staying on track.
The first step is remembering that perfection isn't the goal- you will probably make some errors and poor judgment calls along the way. Try to reframe these setbacks as learning lessons- if you can grow from them, you won't resent their impact.
Here are some other tips to consider when setting goals.
Write It Down
What do you want to achieve? When do you want to achieve it? And how exactly will you achieve it?
Write down those three answers on a piece of paper and put the paper somewhere where you will see it often. For example, you might write down, I want to run a marathon in six months. I will download a training program and commit to the workouts. I will tell my friends and partner about the plan and ask them to help me achieve this goal.
Writing down goals can make them feel more real. It's one more way to hold yourself responsible for following through with them!
Identify Potential Barriers
What might prevent you from achieving this goal? What obstacles have you faced in the past when trying to accomplish a similar task?
It's essential to indicate and plan for triggering situations or barriers that could stunt your progress. You may not be able to avoid them altogether, but you can prepare for them.
For instance, if you plan to run a marathon, some barriers might be: feeling too tired to train, wanting to spend time with friends instead of train, feeling sore, or it being too hot outside. Spend some time reflecting on how you intend to manage these issues before they arise. Having a plan for success can help you feel more empowered.
Tell People Your Plan
Sharing your intentions with someone else creates a sense of accountability. Inherently, you may feel a sense of pressure to follow through with your goal, and that can be motivating.
Just make sure that you tell people who will support and encourage you. At the same time, it's important to remember that you benefit from staying open to feedback. Chances are, your loved ones have your best interest at heart. If they express concern about a goal, hear them out before dismissing it.
Celebrate Small Successes
Get in the habit of rewarding yourself for your accomplishments! You deserve to celebrate yourself and bask in the feelings of success and achievement.
Celebration is an essential part of self-care. It means you're honoring yourself and your needs for ongoing growth. These rewards don't need to be expensive or time-consuming. Treating yourself can include anything from buying a shirt you really want to going out for a nice dinner.
Why Small Changes Matter in Recovery
Early recovery is full of ups and downs, and you will undergo both large and small changes. Fortunately, you can make positive decisions for yourself every moment of every day. No past mistake needs to determine your future success.
At The Resurface Group, we are here to help you and your loved ones set and achieve their goals! Contact us today to learn more.