Making Changes, One at a Time

For some of us, it’s tempting to want to do everything right now. The fear is if we don’t do it now, it won’t get done.

The downside in taking an everything-at-once approach, though, is that it’s all too easy for us to take on too much. And in the end we don’t see the overall progress we had hoped.

This can happen in all kinds of ways, from trying to juggle too many tasks in a given moment, to trying to squeeze in too many commitments into the current season of life.

It even happens in trying to form positive habits and lifestyle changes in our lives. Maybe we get inspired, and find ourselves wanting to begin exercising, or waking up earlier, or eating differently, or meditating (or even flossing). And so we try to implement all these changes at once.

I’ve had this happen in my own life. I get too ambitious, and try to make several changes at once, but because my focus is divided among them all, it’s only a matter of time before some of them begin to fall to the wayside. Instead, I’ve found it’s a better use of my time and energy to focus on one thing at a time, and follow through on that one thing, instead of trying to make too many changes at once.

For me, I usually tend to focus on these kinds of things in monthly increments, focusing on one habit, routine, or lifestyle adjustment per month. It varies from month to month, but doing something consistently for a month helps in a few way. First, since I’m not committing to do this for the rest of my life, just the next 4 weeks, it’s much easier to stick with it for that month. Second, it’s long enough to build it into my daily rhythm and to get a good feel for how it might integrate into the rest of my life. Third,  committing to a month provides a predefined point in the future where I can evaluate the results. Is it something I truly do want to continue doing? Is there anything I need to tweak?

Only making one change at a time, may seem like it would take longer. But which is better: To go slow, and actually implement the changes? Or to try to go fast, lose focus, and end up not implementing any?

By focusing on one thing at a time, you not only have a much better shot of sticking with it, but this in turn helps create confidence and momentum for whenever it’s time to implement the next change you want to make.