Written by Tessa Torgeson in collaboration with Clarity Counseling
In addition to providing you with caring, compassionate counseling services, Clarity Counseling writes this blog to help support your journey towards growth, self-improvement, and healing. We strive to write about topics that are important to you, focusing upon a specific theme each month. If you have any suggestions for monthly themes, please e-mail Trish Tallakson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s theme is change. Last week, we discussed change in regard to New Year’s resolutions. This week, we would like to focus on how you can successfully begin to make lasting change in your life. Change is a complex thing because our habits and routines are so deeply embedded in our lives. It takes courage, hope, support, and motivation to begin.
While your inclination might be to start making massive, broad changes in your life, we emphasize that the key to change is to start small. In his Life Management Program, Earnie Larsen states that the process of change begins with taking “small starts.”Small starts are basically taking small steps towards change instead of giant leaps. They are essential because they make change more manageable and less overwhelming.
Small starts are helpful and encouraging when striving for lifestyle changes, such as striving for more balance in your life. The key is to transform this seemingly abstract concept “striving for balance” into specific, concrete starts. How do you envision balance? What habits promote balance in your life? Talk with friends and family, your therapist, journal, and brainstorm. If you realize your life lacks balance because you work too often or take on too many obligations, then small starts include learning to relax.
For example, let’s say you never allow yourself a lunch break and continue working instead. Start setting a timer for noon to remind you it is time to eat. Start scheduling a lunch date with a friend once a week. Dust off your guitar, paint brushes, favorite book, or movie in order to unwind during your lunch break.
Each small start is a step upward towards change as depicted in this photo. These steps are positive and encouraging. While stepping upwards, you are likely to encounter habits that prevent you from changing. You may not think about these habits that you need to stop in order to change. Yet, it’s important you think about what you have to stop in order to give yourself time and space for what you need to start.
Change, like life, includes stops and starts. This is why small starts are entwined with small stops in the Life Management Program.
Continuing with the example of lacking balance in your life, you must think about what prevents you from achieving balance. Commit to three small stops. Stop agreeing to overtime unless it is entirely financially necessary. Stop checking your work e-mails at home. Gradually stop saying no to meeting up with friends, family, or doing hobbies.
Making these small stops and starts towards change is still challenging. You are likely to meet resistance. This is when you need to reach deep within to that resilient, determined part of you. This is when you need to reach out—to friends, to family, and especially to your faith or spirituality. Cling to each small start, and cherish each stop as a step towards change. Certainly it is worth it for a more fulfilling life.