Taking Small Steps is the Way Toward Desired Change

Making small changes can even lead to more lasting solutions than big changes. I have always found this idea so reassuring. If I think about making a big change, big step, big decision, I can easily feel paralyzed, overwhelmed and indecisive. Small change are do-able!

Moreover, I have learned that making smaller changes can have a more lasting impact.

According to Dutch philosopher and psychologist Gijs Deckers, we all have a tendency to think in terms of big solutions. Deckers says that’s why when we’re looking for solutions, we tend to see or choose the opposite as the answer or solution, versus some action or change in between. That’s what philosophers call dichotomous thinking, i.e. thinking in dichotomies or opposites. Ironically, small steps can often lead to bigger changes than big steps!

When wanting to make a change in our lives, it can also be helpful to think about our needs. According to American psychologists Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, the founders of Self-Determination Theory, people have three basic needs, which if met, lead to a greater sense of happiness and energy.

The three needs are:

Autonomy: the need to do things our own way.

Relatedness: the need to feel connected to other people.

Competence: the need to do something we are good at.

When Ryan and Deci asked study subjects to keep a diary for two weeks and note down their moods, they found that the happiest days were those in which subjects had met those three needs. By identifying our needs, we can choose changes that will help take us to where we want to be, versus sending us on a race or wild goose chase that exhausts us or leads nowhere.

As Ryan and Deci had their subjects do, I’m going to begin noticing when:

I do something my own unique way;

I am loving a connection with someone;

I notice that I am doing something well.

And before I embark on any change adventure (calling it an adventure makes it seem more fun than frightening), I will remind myself of the calming power of reassurance.

Before taking first small steps, it’s helpful to remember:

Mistakes aren’t failures; they are learning opportunities.

That focusing on what we’re lacking makes change more difficult; instead be grateful for what we have.

To imagine possible solutions versus seeing only problems, because the possible solution often lead us somewhere interesting.


This post was inspired by an article I read in Flow Magazine, Issue 14




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