I recently had an interesting conversation with a man who had just lost 30 pounds. Surprised to see him all thinned out and very curious about his strategy, I asked how he did it. In a very matter of fact tone, he said, “Simple. I stopped believing in all that small change nonsense. If all you take is small steps, all you’ll get is small results, and then you’ll get discouraged. To lose 30 pounds, you have to change your life in big ways.”
He then went on to describe how he started to get up an hour early to go to the gym and how he downloaded a calorie counter for his smartphone.
While his philosophy has merit, I’d like to differ for 2 main reasons.
First, for a lot of people, shrinking the magnitude of the change is essential to getting started. If I asked all of you dear readers to get up an hour earlier every weekday to go run on the treadmill, chances are nobody would do it and a bunch of you would unsubscribe from my list! But if I made a good case for a 10-min power walk in your neighborhood, I bet a substantial number would give it a shot. Then it’d be easier to get you to increase the time you spend walking or to add in a few running intervals.
Second, I believe that some small changes can have large impacts. I believe that you can change your life without changing your life.
For example, Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School tells us that 10 minutes of meditation each day can keep the doctor away. Since the most conservative estimates report that over 60% of all doctor visits are related to stress, eliciting the body’s relaxation response through meditation can really go a long way. And just 10 minutes each day is sufficient. (Want to learn how to get started? See Do a Mini on p. 42 of our book.)
For another example, I wrote a few weeks ago about green smoothies. If you typically go for coffee and toast for breakfast, changing that old routine for something vastly more nutritious can dramatically change your energy levels. That’s another small change that keeps on giving.
Here’s one more small change for large impact: just eliminate soda from your life altogether. If you drink soda regularly, you probably aren’t aware of all the damage it causes on its way down. See the infographic below to get the full picture. It is eye-opening. Do you think that ridding your life of soda will be a serious challenge? Read Mary Lou’s story and strategy on p. 39 of our book.
If you have other small changes for large impact, we’d love to hear from you. Please share! 😉