Change is hard.
There’s no sugarcoating it — change is tough to do, it requires a constant commitment and it requires action. There can be, at times, no immediate reward that is tangibly felt as a result of the change, which can cause some people to lose their motivation and give up. Defeated before they even begin.
Change, for me, is simply one small choice followed by another followed by another. Where you want to end up may seem light years away from you but how else do you plan on getting there if you don’t start to modify your behaviour and actions one small step at a time?
Let’s say you want to be a better spouse / partner. Perhaps you feel like being the “ultimate” spouse is impossible for you, particularly if you compare yourself to any of your friends whose relationships may seem perfect from the outside. Maybe you believe that you’re just not hardwired to ever be good at it and that you are doomed to a life of relationship unhappiness due to your own shortcomings. You may have found yourself thinking, “I suck, this person would be better off without me… maybe I should just leave and put them out of their misery. They deserve better than me. I’m worthless!”
You may read self-help books, relevant articles or hear advice that focuses more on the end state and where that particular person is now after processing, figuring it all out, finding a solution and going through their own process of taking baby steps toward the end state… and all of those articles may make you angry. Resentful. Frustrated.
It’s likely due to the fact that those people are in their end state, happier for it, but the distance between where you are and where you would need to be to feel those same things the author is feeling feels astronomical. Impossible, even. The contrast between their life and yours provides a stark vision of the reality you are faced with right now. You want change but it feels overwhelming. You want their happiness but it feels unattainable.
So, toss those articles aside and instead, focus on the one thing you can do today to move toward positive change.
If you want to be a better spouse / partner, perhaps try sending your significant other a mid-morning text to let them know that you are thinking of them and that you are hoping they are having a great day. Maybe instead of burying your face in your phone during dinner, you put the phone away and connect with your partner. Perhaps you make a pledge to yourself that you won’t nag for an entire day (or week, month, etc.) Make tiny steps in the direction of positive change.
Think about the last long-distance road trip you went on. Focusing on the distance between Canada and Florida will definitely make you feel defeated before you even get started but focusing on getting in the car and grabbing road trip snacks and good music will make it seem fun and adventurous. Once that begins to wear off, choosing the next micro-destination keeps the spirits up and motivation at play. Focus on the small goals to get to the big goals.
You may even be reading this and scoffing at the ease to which I attach to change. You may roll your eyes and think, “Impossible! I’ve tried to change before and it failed every time. I don’t have the same outlook on change that you do!” If so, GOOD. Let’s work with that and make your one small step today to simply hold the belief that change is possible. You may come up against resistance here and doubt and a myriad of other negative emotions but push them aside. Believe that change is possible. You can become exactly who you are meant to become.
It’s going to take time. You may step backward before fully stepping forward and that’s okay. Just keep your actions moving toward positive change each and every day and before you know it, you’ll wake up in your desired end state without feeling like you embarked on a big, beautiful, at-times-difficult journey.
You with me? One tiny step today. Another tomorrow.
You got this.