Small Steps to Change
As a new year and decade begin, many people are in the midst of thinking about change and perhaps even taking action on change. The New Year’s resolution has become a very popular thing in North American culture, but how helpful is it?
From a psychological perspective of change, not very. Resolutions set people up for a sense of failure, pressure, and a lack of reality that can do more of a disservice to goal-setting and change than help. Often people set resolutions based on what they think they ‘should’ change-weight, habits, etc.-though these changes may not actually be desired, personal, or realistic for them.
The healthier approach to change is small steps. Looking at where you want to go with a particular behaviour or perhaps even in life generally and then breaking it down into small steps. It’s impossible to go from where we are today to our end goal, whatever it happens to be, so we need to look at the next reasonable steps of action.
For instance, if it’s my goal to get educated and go back to school to get a degree, this isn’t going to happen overnight, nor is it going to happen by dreaming about having that degree in my hand. I need to look at the next step of action. Perhaps that is talking to people to gather information about their programs and trying to see what seems like a good fit for me. Perhaps I do some online research into programs and schools. Perhaps I go walk around the college campus I’m thinking of applying to and talk to an advisor there (this may be two separate action steps). There is no right or wrong with actionable items, the key is that it is something that challenges us but is still doable. If my next step of action was to go to a class that is not realistic or doable as I have not even decided on program, applied, been accepted, and set up all of the logistics to get to that class.
With any goal worth doing there is a lot of planning involved and lots of small steps. Take it one step at a time.
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