You know it’s time for change. You’ve set everything up: a new diet or exercise plan, a proposed budget, a schedule of counseling appointments, a new program to discipline your children or spend quality time with your spouse. All your hope is riding on the new plan…
So…. How do you expect change to happen? Many of us hope that big change will occur as easily as pushing a button. After all, “Esc” and “Delete” are two of our favorite buttons on the keyboard – enabling us to escape unpleasant computer experiences and delete messed up data. In real life, though, no magic “Change”button exists with which we can escape unpleasant habits and delete excess weight. But that’s okay, because….
Much of the change we seek happens in small steps. We get married on one day, but may spend years adjusting to married life in daily small steps. Having a first child gives us new names, Mom and Dad, but we grow into parents day by day, year by year. Weight loss occurs as, over time, we expend more calories than we consume. Muscle tone increases as we strength train more often than not. Big change often comes packaged in small steps, and that’s important to acknowledge because…
How we measure change could spell the success or failure of our overall change plan. Francesca was a beautiful client who struggled with weight loss. She started a new eating plan for overall health reasons, with the expected benefit of weight loss. She followed the plan so well, but had a few glitches along the way. The problem was that a glitch at breakfast spelled failure for the whole day. And failure for a whole day could snowball into failure for the whole eating plan. Sound familiar? Francesca needed what we all could use…
We need a new way to think about change in small steps. Francesca decided to measure her eating plan success meal by meal. If she ate off the plan at breakfast (a failure), she paused to observe the deviation, accept that it could not be undone, and then let it go. In this way, Francesca was free to have a new experience at each meal. Individual failures could not snowball out of control, because they were just reference points, not defining moments.
When we measure change, here’s a mindful application we all could adopt:
- Become aware of the small steps of the larger change process.
- Observe the success or failure of each small step.
- Accept that it can’t be undone.
- Let go of the step. Let the success or failure of the step become a reference point of the past – don’t let it become what defines you in the present or future.
So how will you choose to measure change?
(A Mindful Monday post with many thanks to Francesca, for giving me permission to share part of her story).