Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Quitter’s Circle, a collaboration between the American Lung Association and Pfizer. All thoughts and opinions presented in this post are purely my own.
It’s common for many of us to examine our lives and ponder the person we aspire to be.
Self-improvement is a powerful thing, filled with scrutinizing and day-dreaming about the individual we know we can grow to become. It takes a lot of work.
We brainstorm good life choices we wish to acquire.
We consider not-so-good actions we hope to finally get rid of.
We contemplate. We reflect. We journal. We vision board. We do whatever we need to prepare.
And then, seemingly all of a sudden, we’re ready.
We expect it to happen all at once.
When I finally decided I was ready to return to yoga – I wanted a perfect five times a week practice to fall into place immediately.
When I finally decided, after four fun-filled years of undergrad, I was ready to lose weight – I wanted to re-find my fitness immediately.
When I finally decided my daily diet soda habit no longer served me – I wanted to quit cold turkey and never, ever look back.
We long for immediacy when making a change and get excited at the thought of our new selves.
And, if you’re like I am, there’s one more reason you feel as though change should come quickly:
By the time you’ve committed to change, you’ve probably already invested months (or even years) just thinking about it.
In the real world, however, self-improvement goals necessitate small steps spread out over time.
Slow shuffles toward a goal that coalesce to create momentum and permanent success.
Embrace S.L.O.W. Change.
Small steps still equal movement.
Consider how we celebrate a toddler’s first steps. Tiny, tentative shuffles forward we reinforce with clapping and encouragement. No one watches a wobbly new walker and wonders why she isn’t running yet! We applaud both the effort and the forward movement. Treat yourself like a toddler as you undertake achieving a new goal. Steps forward, no matter how small they may feel, inch you toward the goal you’ve set.
Layer steps upon each other.
Change can feel akin to a juggling act. In our excitement and hurry we attempt to implement lots of change simultaneously. This act of endeavoring to juggle too many modifications at once ensures one orb will crash, sparking us to give up. When creating change, it’s crucial to acquire the skill of layering. Choose one area of your life (for example: not smoking during girls night out), master that piece, move to another area (for example: not smoking during work breaks) and layer that new piece on top of what you’ve already mastered.
Own your success.
I often joke about how I pat myself on the back so frequently I’m perilously close to tearing a rotator cuff.
Don’t become distracted by other people’s successes and allow them to diminish your own.
Don’t become so narrow-focused on your ultimate goal that you forget to celebrate smaller achievements/victories along the way.
Celebrate ordering small french fries at lunch when your “usual” is a super-sized. Cheer for yourself as you walk 1/2 a mile even if others around you are running marathons. Congratulate yourself each day you make it through smokefree and acknowledge communities like Quitter’s Circle that can help motivate you along your quit journey.
Acknowledge changes you’ve already made and the hard work it has taken to get there.
Walk before you run.
Literally and metaphorically.
Set yourself up for lasting success by pacing yourself as you move toward your goal and building a plan.
Currently a one-pack-a-day smoker? Commit to smoking one less cigarette today, and setting a quit date when you will be completely smokefree. Sure, it would be thrilling to quit abruptly or immediately stop smoking, however, by running before walking and implementing change too rapidly you may set yourself up for returning to undesirable behaviors.
Quitter’s Circle can help you make a quit plan and provides tips to keep in mind as you choose the right time to quit smoking.
No matter what you’re trying to achieve, it’s important to remember long-term success requires progressive shifts over time.
S.L.O.W. change is still change.
Bea saysApril 12, 2017 at 4:55 am
I love how you phrase that we think about wanting to change so much by the time we start we feel like it should go quickly.
That is totally me. I think I think about everything for so long before I really take action that is why I get quickly frustrated and quit. Again.
Diana saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:12 am
I need to figure out how to better do the layering. I can rock changing a small piece of my behavior like not doing drive-thru for lunch but when I add in something else and work on that I always return to the old behavior I had changed.
Does that make sense? LOLOL
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:27 am
I was actually talking to my therapist about this yesterday. Because of the IVF and the immediacy of it, I have been thinking of the immediacy of the results and what that could mean for my fertility. I’m being too short sided and permanent with that the results could be–if it don’t work within 6 months, no baby for you.
I need to start actually learning how to embrace the scope of the process again.
Valerie saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:34 am
Oh good lord I love this. Did you write this just for me? ? I am the worst when it comes to wanting everything all at once right now. I’m learning – especially as I get older – that is just not the right approach for me anymore, if it ever was. Right now is a classic example – I’ve been inactive for weeks due to first illness, then injury, then illness again – and I’ve discovered I can’t just jump right back into my former level of activity. I have to start slowly. It’s so frustrating to be moving at what feels like a snail’s pace compared to what I was doing, but it does no one any good to leap into something only to fail because you tried to do too much too soon.
And the same thing has always been true for me with food. If I try to go ultra-clean all at once I exhaust my own decision-making capability and end up tossing the whole plan out of sheer mental exhaustion. I think slow and steady really does win the race.
acktive life saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:46 am
Needed this reminder as I am starting a new chapter and I need to remember that this takes TIME…It takes small daily steps. Nothing happens at once. I need to breathe, trust the process, and most importantly BELIEVE in myself. Thank you as always Carla for this reminder! XOXO
Tia saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:48 am
I clicked over to read not expecting I would learn anything 🙂 but as a runner you have me thinking.
I’m fast. I’m working on changing a habit I’ve had for years and I think I thought I would be fast at that too.
I don’t walk. Maybe that’s my challenge?
Katie saysApril 12, 2017 at 6:46 am
I lost 100 pounds about five years ago and I’ve maintained my loss. When I did that I celebrated NSV (nonscale victories) the entire time.
Now I’m trying to stop biting my nails. It’s a gross habit and I bite them to the quick. I need to think about little things I can celebrate along the way for this because I know that helped with my weight loss and maintaining.
Why is this so hard??
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysApril 12, 2017 at 7:07 am
I don’t do well with slow…and I need to change my thinking. Yep, I’m running and I’m walking. It’s the only way for me right now.
Quitting still isn’t an option…
Laura ditto n saysApril 12, 2017 at 7:41 am
Carla, today I will remind myself to take “toddler” like steps”. And, I will lovingingly praise myself along the way.
Kelley saysApril 12, 2017 at 7:45 am
Boom! Boom! The only way to tackle something insurmountable is to have a traveling self party for yourself for each step. I love your words!
Marcie Austen saysApril 12, 2017 at 7:46 am
What a great reminder that it is ok to be “SLOW” in how you go about change. Change isn’t like flipping a switch and it’s done. Thank you for giving me a philosophy that I can apply and share with others!
Jen Monks saysApril 12, 2017 at 8:04 am
“Small steps still equal movement.” I need to keep this in mind as I inch forward with my business and personal goals. Very good reminder!
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysApril 12, 2017 at 8:15 am
This was SO true Carla – I eat a lettuce leaf and expect to lose a kilo 🙂 Everything worthwhile takes time but we live in an instant gratification society and want it all Right Now!
Pamela Lutrell saysApril 12, 2017 at 8:15 am
Excellent post, Carla. Much wisdom here. I think with me the place where slow equals results has been in my workouts that I did not begin until age 60. When I go too fast, I get injured…but slow perseverance is paying off! Thanks for the reminders in all areas of our lives.
Carla saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:05 am
Glad to hear it, Pamela.
Annmarie saysApril 12, 2017 at 8:19 am
Gosh I needed to read this today. I am so impatient when it comes to change but I am working on recognizing and acknowledge all the small steps I’m taking.
Dana saysApril 12, 2017 at 8:25 am
This is so true. I always need to remind myself, I didn’t get here in one day — it is not going to change in a day.
Tamara saysApril 12, 2017 at 9:20 am
I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who spends eons on the contemplative stage of change! I too need to think about things, start talking about them tentatively and imagine how my day will look with the new behaviour long before I actually implement it. And I wonder if doing so doesn’t make us more likely to eventually succeed?
While we don’t think about the thinking as being an important part of committing to the process, it most definitely is!
Carla saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:04 am
I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner saysApril 12, 2017 at 9:57 am
Great reminder! No matter what the change you have to start where you are not where you want to be. Not always easy for me!
Shelley saysApril 12, 2017 at 9:58 am
” Cheer for yourself as you walk 1/2 a mile even if others around you are running marathons. ” – it’s like you wrote this post just for me. I really love it. I do try to celebrate my little successes, even the ones that are so small they’re probably undetectable by anyone but me – whether it’s walking 10k steps or a small success with a difficult work relationship. Great post!
Susan saysApril 12, 2017 at 10:30 am
I needed to read this today. I sabotage myself over and over because I want it ALL right away. Like… finishing a book. Or getting back to running. Walk before I run.. and maybe never run. LOL
Carla saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:03 am
KEEP FOLLOWING! There’s plenty more to come.
Carla saysApril 13, 2017 at 4:26 am
I’m sorry to hear that. I know it’s difficult.
Hattie saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:00 am
I am embarrassed by the fact I still smoke.
I am really strong, but I think this makes me look weak to my kids.
I needed this post today.
Carla saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:02 am
Quitting smoking can be really difficult, but it can be done Hattie! If you’re looking for additional helpful resources or a little extra support, you should definitely check out QuittersCircle.com.
Carla saysApril 13, 2017 at 4:25 am
Quitting smoking can be really difficult, but it can be done. If you're looking for additional helpful resources or a little extra support, you should definitely check out QuittersCircle.com.
Carol Cassara saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:19 am
How true this is, in our world of instant gratification. It’s fulfilling to work toward something step by step and achieve it.
Michele saysApril 12, 2017 at 11:22 am
I always want change really quick. But I am learning to be patient, work the steps, and build on my small successes.
Thanks for the reminder.
Judy Freedman saysApril 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm
I’m all for the SLOW changes. As a yoga instructor and mindfulness practitioner, I’ve finally come to realize that change is ongoing, so what’s the use of speeding it up.
Laurie Stone saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm
So true, Carla. We make the biggest changes by chipping away. At least that’s always worked for me. Thanks for the reminder.
Carla saysApril 13, 2017 at 4:24 am
That’s a great idea! Thanks, Laurie
messymimi saysApril 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm
When i look back on every successful change i’ve made, it’s because i took it slowly, a step at a time.
Kerri Olkjer saysApril 12, 2017 at 6:56 pm
Such great advice here! I know when I’m looking for change I want it YESTERDAY. Ha, ha. But lasting, sustainable, real change takes time. <3
Carmy @ carmyy.com saysApril 12, 2017 at 7:41 pm
This – sometimes I’m sooooo focused on the end goal, I have my blinders on and feel like I’m getting no where since the baby steps are not noticed. Thanks for this!
abbey saysApril 12, 2017 at 9:00 pm
this is great, thanks!
Chrissy saysApril 12, 2017 at 9:30 pm
This is a beautiful post. So well written and so true! We need to remember these steps in so many aspects of our lives. I certainly fall into the trap of wanting it all right away.
Carla saysApril 13, 2017 at 4:24 am
Chrissy, you can do it! People are supporting you every step of the way.
Christina Bauer saysApril 13, 2017 at 10:15 am
This is so very true! More people need to understand that change doesn’t and shouldn’t happen overnight. If we all dropped 30 lbs in a week, we’d be told to see our doctors!!
Ilka saysApril 13, 2017 at 10:24 am
This post is such a great reminder that all good things in life actually took some time and didn’t happen immediately. Why are we putting all this pressure onto ourselves all the time?
Esther saysApril 13, 2017 at 11:16 am
Great post! So full of true info! We live in an instant gratification society! I have to remember this as I face lots of testing for some health issues. Take each day as a blessing and keep working for my goals one step at a time.
Julie @ Running in a Skirt saysApril 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm
I am someone who doesn’t do change well,so this speaks to me! Small steps! Thanks for the inspiration.
cherylann saysApril 13, 2017 at 8:53 pm
Wanted to change (and not re-live my mother’s life) back when I was 16. I have never looked back nor have had any regrets to be exactly WHO and WHERE I am today…I took BIG steps— started to RUN —-perfected my career skills—-MOVED 2000 miles away—-went after what I wanted. Bliss!
daniela saysApril 15, 2017 at 12:04 pm
Ual, this is really amazing, we never realize that a great walk begins with a small step at a time, the problem really and we want to do it all at once and it will never work out.
Very good article Carla, congratulations!
I needed to read this today, it helped me a lot.