In our consumer driven marketplace, it is sometimes difficult to avoid the big sales pitch being made by products or services that promise to change us for the better. Whether it is the latest diet plan bringing meals to our front door, a fitness craze that seems to work for everyone, a proven business building program or perhaps that relationship improvement program that can solve our most struggling personal relationships.
We all, at some level, desire to make forward progress in the important areas of our lives. Discontent with our present situation is always the first step in bringing about positive change. Psychologists will often say that we really only work effectively to bring about change when our level of frustration and pain with our present situation reaches a level that makes the thought of trying something new seem not so bad.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, there is a reality check around bringing about significant positive change in our lives that we all could use an occasional reminder of every now and then.
The reality is that both academic research and our own personal experience would remind us that bringing about significant positive change in our lives is not about the next biggest, greatest idea, it is about small, consistent acts over time that lead to significant milestones being accomplished.
Small acts matter in bringing about major change in our lives.
The biggest thing we can do to bring about positive and meaningful change in the important areas of life is to take small steps in the right direction.
As the well-known USC professor and psychologist (more affectionately known as the Italian Love Doctor), Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998) once said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
The same principle that Buscaglia described in his research that was the cornerstone to improving relationships, mainly that small acts matter, is the same principle that applies to other important areas of our lives and personal development.
As we all have the desire to bring about positive change in important areas of our lives, while we wait and hope for the next great idea to energize our efforts, we should begin to take the initiative to start small and take a few steps in the right direction. In the end, regardless of the next big idea, it will always be the small acts that matter in sustaining positive change in our lives.
Here are a few ideas on small acts that matter in some important areas:
Money and savings: Put aside a small amount each paycheck for that rainy day fund. It does not matter the amount, it is the small act of saving consistently that matters. The old penny jar we had as kids can always be a good place to start.
Relationship struggles: Perhaps it is time to simply shut up and listen with the intent to understand the other person. We see the world as we are, not as it is. The small act that matters in relationships is to focus more on understanding than on being understood.
Diet and exercise: While we continue to buy the next great diet and exercise plan (the consumer does drive most of our economy so at least we are supporting a good cause with these purchases) we should start with a small step in the right direction. Perhaps we can start by brushing our teeth after dinner as opposed to just before bed as that has been shown to reduce the mid-evening munchies which are so problematic to our waistlines. Small acts matter in bringing about big results.
Pursuing a really big dream beyond our present circumstance: Spend 15 uninterrupted minutes in the quiet of the morning or late evening thinking, dreaming, and planning. We become what we think about, so the small act of clearly “seeing” that really big dream is an important one. Taking action should always follow at least a little bit of thinking and planning to be most productive.
Moving forward in bringing about positive change in our lives will always be grounded on the small acts that matter. As we decide to implement a few small acts that matter, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to overcome resistance to change and reach our full potential.