Make Big Changes With Baby Steps

When you’re motivated to make a change in your life, sometimes it feels as if you need to tackle everything at once and completely revamp your existing lifestyle. However, you’ll be more successful if you make small, sustainable changes, allowing each new habit to become permanent before pressing orward again. According to the National Institute of Health, change comes in several stages:
• Contemplation
• Preparation
• Action
• Maintenance

Once you reach the maintenance stage, it’s okay to set new goals and move through these stages for your next changes.

Break Big Changes Into Achievable Goals

Too often, big goals become overwhelming and feel insurmountable. This is why many experts recommend setting up a series of small tasks that lead toward your ultimate goal. Boost the impact of your goals and achieve success by learning to make SMART goals and to habit stack. The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Habit stacking refers to moving through a series of actions that you generally repeat in the
same order every day. For example, if you already drink water first thing in the morning, stack that with doing some stretches.

Incorporate Small Goals Into Your Existing Lifestyle

There are several great fitness changes you can make that fit easily into your existing routine, such as walking after dinner or parking at the back of the parking lot for extra steps. A task like this can help you fit exercise into your routine even when you have a very full schedule. Consider adding a few minutes of meditation or yoga to your day or scheduling time to meal prep each week. Use the following ideas or use them to brainstorm other ideas:
• Find a partner to keep you accountable or join a team like Team Mandalore.
• Eat a rainbow each day.
• Increase your fiber intake.
• Keep a journal of how much water you drink and how many vegetables you eat in a day.
• Practice saying “no” and maintaining healthy boundaries when asked for help.
• Set aside several minutes each day to self-reflect.
• Get into nature for 20 minutes a day.
• Recognize something to be grateful for every day.

Any one of these habits could provide you with increased energy, better health, improved sleep habits, and decreased depression. Just be sure that the small goals you choose lead directly to your end goal.

Establish an Atmosphere for Success

It can be hard to make and maintain changes without a supportive atmosphere. Create this environment in your home by upgrading your lighting, adding plants to your décor, and setting aside a place for exercise and meditation.
A separate spot for meditation makes it easier to reflect and decompress during busy days. Remove sugary treats and temptations from sight and stock your fridge with ready-to-eat veggies, water bottles, and other healthy snacks.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have room for a full set of gym equipment in your home; use a chair for triceps dips or do a minute of wall sits.

Start Your Journey With One Step

Every time you try for a new goal and don’t achieve it, you increase your chances of not succeeding in the end. Rather than jumping toward a goal that’s out of reach, set achievable goals that build toward larger goals. Small tasks are less intimidating, instill a sense of momentum, and help you maintain focus. With each new success, you’ll enjoy more confidence with less stress. As Desmond Tutu said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a

**a note from the captain: many thanks to Shelia Johnson of for an insightful and fun little article!**