Written by Lifestyle Contributor, Andrea Merrill
Why is it that so often when we are trying to make changes in our lives, we go all-out all at once and try to accomplish a HUGE change in a matter of a day? It’s that “all or nothing” mentality. We don’t like to wait for results. There’s no process needed, no journey, just a sprint to make a change and achieve the ideal as quickly as possible. I definitely tend to operate this way. The problem is that changing everything all at once is often impossible given our time and resource constraints. Even if we do succeed for a few days or weeks, eventually it becomes too much to maintain and we give up (New Years Resolutions, anyone?). What if we were to look at change as a step-by-step journey rather than a full-blown makeover?
Quite a few years ago I made the decision to start cleaning up my life and start living as organically as possible.
I joined a group of like-minded women so I could learn and make changes. I remember sitting in a meeting with these ambitious ladies. They made just about everything – food, cleaning products, skin care. They gardened, composted and recycled. In my eyes, their lives exemplified what I wanted to achieve and I left the meeting inspired to start that week. I was going to throw away everything in my house that wasn’t organic and start making everything from scratch. I bought a book with recipes to make my own skin care. I bought some dirt and got started on my garden. I tried cleaning my counters with a homemade vinegar concoction. While I never said it out loud, the expectation in my head was that I would be “completely organic” (whatever THAT means) within 2 weeks. I quickly realized, however, that this kind of transformation was really a full-time job, and I already had one of those! I stressed about not having enough time to soak my beans overnight or grind wheat berries into flour. I was frustrated when the enormous garden I tried to plant felt like a chore to water and prune. This was supposed to be fun! And making my own skin care? Never got around to that. I stopped going to the meetings because I felt like I couldn’t pull it together enough to carry out the level of organic living that these ladies had going. “I gave it a good shot”, I rationalized, “but my life is too busy for this!”
Ever been there? Maybe you’ve had thoughts like I did – it’s too much. My life doesn’t work this way. I’ll never get anywhere so why even bother?
It was shortly after I stopped going to the meetings that I got an email from one of the ladies. I was honest with her about why I stopped going – it was too much all at once. She emailed back with something that gave me an “Ah-ha” moment: where they are now is not where they started. For all of them this has been a process, not an overnight overhaul. She challenged me to think about what I eat on a daily basis and start there. Make one change to one thing.
Over the next months as I write to you, I will challenge you with new ways to make small changes. Each time you read my words I hope that you will walk away with a renewed commitment to just take your next step. If I’m completely honest, I need these blog posts just as much as you do! We all falter. We all have rough seasons that run us off-course, but that doesn’t mean that any of us has to stay there.
As I’ve turned each new change into a routine, I then looked to the next change I wanted to make. Not all at once – one change at a time. THIS has been my secret to creating new habits that have lasted years rather than weeks. The way I live now is drastically different and infinitely better than when I started this journey. More than anything, my mentality is healthy. I still see plenty of areas to grow in, but I also know that I will accomplish them in time, and when I do, those changes will be forever. Slow it down. Make it last. Enjoy the journey.