Do the Smallest Thing You Can to Create Change
Stelle was frustrated because no matter how strongly she resolved, she couldn’t keep her intention of walking for 40 minutes every day.
Most days her time and focus got lost in housework, zoning out after a full day’s work, going to medical appointments, or watching videos. She’d go to bed vowing the next day would be different. Over and over.
This rut may be familiar, it is for me. I have to up my game because I’m aging (both a privilege and a pain in the tush). Muscle tone that used to just be there now needs work to maintain. I don’t wanna… but that rebellion doesn’t strengthen my core.
I asked Stelle, what’s the smallest thing you can do in the next week? She said 40 minutes five days a week. Is that realistic? I asked. “No…,” she said. “But I need to.”
We all have many things we need to do. But you also have to honor your nervous system, competing values, and what you actually want to do.
Your dear, sweet nervous system
Our nervous systems are stretched to the max. The world is worrisome, we’re constantly on call, and our lives are separated into doing many things ourselves versus in a community with support from others. Even “zoning out” on engaging electronic distractions is still stimulating.
Instead of doing (or promising) giant steps only to fall back, take on a little challenge: baby steps, the minimum, then integrating what you’ve done. You’re creating a habit and foundation to expand.
For Stelle, she decided to walk to the park and back, about 12-15 minutes, three times a week. And make something she wanted to do — a Netflix rerun — as a reward.
When we talked in the next session, she was pleased that she’d done what she intended. She still felt it wasn’t enough, but she wasn’t in that all-or-nothing battle zone.
Consider something on your “I should be or need to” list:
Movement, anti-racist education, climate action, meditation, singing! What’s the absolute smallest action you can take in the next week — even smaller! — that will get the ball rolling?
On my end, I intend to add yoga once a week and core strengtheners twice more to my walks and dancing. That’s not enough! I’m telling myself. But compared to nothing, it’s a something I can take on.
Wishing you alignment with your actions,
P.S. What’s your favorite podcast?
It’s so much fun to be on podcasts! If you have any favorites, especially about health, mental health, spirituality, or sleep, let me know!
This week, I’m on Front Seat, the Back Road to You. Monica was one of my favorite interviewers — fun and curious! Take a listen to learn tools for rest, sleep, and being present in a bumpy world.