One Simple Change: How to Be a Better You

Every journey begins with a single step.

The truth in that simple sentence is empowering, isn’t it? It makes you feel like you can do anything, as long as you take that first step.

A new year is on the way, and with it will come a rush of (rash) resolutions. Honorable as they may be, many of these will un-resolve themselves by February, if not sooner.

We really ought to call them New Year’s wishes, rather than resolutions, for two reasons:

  1. We often resolve to make dramatic (i.e., unrealistic) changes.
  2. We typically don’t develop actionable plans for how we will make the changes.

So when the time comes to act on our resolutions, we feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

We falter. We fail.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. And really, when it comes to making positive changes in our lives, New Year’s needn’t even be involved. Every new day offers you a chance to make little changes that can help you become a bit better.

This is the premise for One Simple Change, an inspiring idea from The Juice Plus+ Company (the makers of Tower Garden). One Simple Change suggests you can become your best self by making small, healthy changes in your life.

I usually write about growing plants. But in this post, I’m going to borrow from this idea of One Simple Change to show how you can grow yourself.

Keep Getting (a Tiny Bit) Better with Kaizen

Have you ever heard of Kaizen? The Japanese word roughly translates to “improvement” or “good change.” In recent years, this concept has been adopted in productivity circles to mean “constant, continual improvement.”

Kaizen works when (and I’m heavily paraphrasing here) you choose a change that you will be able to consistently make. It needs to be small enough to be repeatable, to become a habit.

How small? Really small. Ridiculously small.

Because all of us can do ridiculously small.

For instance, you could do one push-up, or meditate for one minute, or drink one extra glass of water—every day. But whatever you do, the task must be so easy, so miniscule, that you can’t come up with any good excuses to not do it. Even the busiest among us can spend one measly minute in meditation, right?

Here’s the interesting part: When you start (and maintain) that teeny, tiny habit, it will grant you momentum—momentum to do more.

Imagine next week, when you’re on the floor to do your daily push-up, you feel so energized that you do two. Then the following week, you squeeze out another. In a few months’ time, you’ve become a push-up pro. But it all started with one—one simple change you could stick to.

Achieving a positive change in your life is fulfilling. Success silences negative self-talk.  And after you make a change, the next one will come with less effort because you’re confident. You’ve done it before, so you know you can do it again.

Commitment + Consistency = the Key to Change

Your identity—constantly in flux—is a story you tell yourself.

Let me explain.

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., explains the principle of commitment and consistency. I’d recommend you read the whole book, because it’s fascinating. But for the sake of time, I’m going to summarize this particular idea: Humans have a natural compulsion to act consistently.

This means that when we say or do something (and particularly when other people know we said or did something), we work quite hard to make sure our future words and actions are in alignment. And over time, this process of acting consistently with our past commitments alters self-perception, for better or worse.

So by taking a small step toward a healthier lifestyle, you can hack your natural tendency to seek consistency, prompting additional small, related steps.

For example, when you choose to drink an extra glass of water, your mind tells itself that you’re a person who values wellness, someone who makes healthy choices. So when it comes time to make another decision, such as whether to take the escalator or the stairs, your mind says, “Hey, I’m the kind of person who makes healthy choices.” And a subconscious desire to act consistently may drive you to choose the stairs.

Try following the domino effect—this cycle of commitment and consistency—in your own life. Can you think of small decisions that have influenced who you’ve become over time?

Inspiration for Change

If you’re like me, you’ve already got a long list of ways you’d like to improve. But should you need a few ideas of where to start, Juice Plus+ suggests the following:

  • Eat more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Instead of buying a burger and fries for lunch, seek out a salad. Rather than reaching for the ice cream, enjoy a few sweet strawberries. If you’re a Tower Gardener, this change is pretty easy because you can grow the whole foods yourself!
  • Drink more water. As you know, water is essential for good health. And we’re supposed to drink between two and three liters of it daily. If you get tired of drinking glass after glass, here’s a smart shortcut: eat more fruits and veggies—many consist mostly of water.
  • Get more exercise. This one is all about doing what works for you. If you hate running, go for daily walks instead. Not into weightlifting? Try yoga. And remember—start small.
  • Sleep more (and stress less). Ah, this one just might be my favorite. I mean, who doesn’t want to snag a few extra seconds of shut-eye? Beyond the sheer pleasure of it, sleeping can lower your risk of disease and injury, improve your mind and mood, and much more.

Regardless of the change you decide to pursue, knowing this is critical: Being better isn’t about being perfect. It’s about staying committed and consistent.

You’ll mess up. You’ll skip a day. We all do.

And that’s OK—as long as you keep at it. That’s the only way to make a good change permanent.

What’s Your One Simple Change?

Hopefully by now you understand the surprising power of making one simple change. So forget New Year’s. Your journey toward a better, healthier you starts today—with a single step.

What’s the one simple change you’re going to make? Leave a comment to let me know.

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