We all know the deal– if you want to lose 20 pounds, start with losing 1 pound. But how do I lose 1 pound? And if you want to become a violinist, start by learning one song. But you think, “how the heck can I motivate myself to start?”
Sometimes the best way to make the change is to remove obstacles. In the example above, how can I learn violin if I don’t buy a violin? And maybe I consistently tell myself that I cannot buy a violin because I need to save money for more valuable things. Well, why not consider renting a violin so that you have high reward to low risk? This lets the pressure off.
I experienced the power of un-roadblocking myself recently when I was trying to set a goal to read more. I love reading. Or at least I tell myself I do. But how often do I actually sit down to read? Probably twice a year. At least that’s how often I used to read books, until I:
- Bought myself a book stand
- Bought myself a reading light that charges really easily
And now that I have no excuses, I read all the time. And I’m a much happier and I’m a much more relaxed person on the days that I carve out a few minutes of reading time– because reading helps me quiet my mind. And it only cost me a tiny amount of money, but it brought on a bigger change.
“Equipped with that energy of mindfulness and concentration, you may take a step. And if you can take one mindful step, you can take another and another.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
So if you’re trying to make what feels like a big change, try making a small change first.
- Worried about your terrible posture? One life hack involves getting out of bed instead of reading your phone in bed in some slouchy position. So the trick is to plug your phone into an outlet this is far away form your bed so you have to get up to turn off your morning alarm.
- Worried about switching careers? Take a tutorial course on something that interests you, like an online programming course. The obstacle is the cost of course or the materials, so just do it. No, I’m not talking about investing tons of money, but sometimes you have to throw down a little cash, even if it’s a trial membership to PluralSight (or any online course website).
- _ Feeling low on energy? _ Eat at breakfast and dinner at the right times. It’s been proven that cortisol (the stress hormone) is introduced into the body whenever you delay your usual eating times. So if you often find yourself hangry, keep a box of low-glycemic energy bars around. The simple act of buying food to keep around is an easy way to un-roadblock your goals. Remember, you’re not just a brain in a jar. You have to eat so you can take care of that body!
- Feeling like you’ll never brush your teeth more than 2 times a day? Buy a toothbrush and a travel sized toothpaste and leave it in every place you can. If you have one at your desk at work, then maybe one day you’ll remember to use it before pair-programming or after you had stinky fish lunch.
- Feeling sore? Wear more layers. This one came compliments of my incredible wife, who recognized before I did that I am often cold. But the interesting part is that I didn’t realize how being slightly cold was having a major negative effect on my health and well-being due to reduce flexibility that was causing significant muscle strain in my shoulders and neck. After one winter where I experimented with wearing many comfortable, nice layered hoodies and cardigans, I found myself in much better health by spring. Life hacks don’t get much smaller than that.
- Losing confidence at work? Enroll in that online course or subscription. If you find yourself nervous about the weight of your monthly payment to PluralSight, LinkedIn Learning, or EggHead.io, then you might be more motivated to take the time to educate yourself. With education comes confidence and pride.
One of the best ways to feel better about taking a step is to forgive yourself of the past. That's easier than it seems:
Those are just a few ideas. Sometimes you just need a little something to get you started, and though they may only involve a very small cost or small change to your day they could have a huge impact over time. We’d love to hear from you on similar experiences you had, so reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. What small step helped you to make the biggest change?