🤔💭 Do You Want to Make Changes in Your Life?
Are you unhappy with certain aspects of your life? Have you tried making changes, only to fall back into old habits? You’re not alone! Making lasting changes can be difficult, but there’s a better way to achieve lasting success: taking small, actionable steps.
In this blog post, I’ll explore why small, actionable steps work better than drastic changes and how you can apply this strategy to your life.
📉 Why Don’t Drastic Changes Last?
You might think that the quickest way to change is to go straight to the desired result. However, your brain doesn’t necessarily agree.
Even though immediate results may be appealing, your brain tends to resist change. To assist your brain in adjusting, it’s crucial to introduce changes gradually.
😨🧠 Meet Your Brain’s “Change Blocker”: The Amygdala
The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure, is a crucial part of your brain’s limbic system. It plays a key role in processing emotions and is particularly involved in fear responses and memory. One of the key responses it controls is the fight-or-flight response, a primal reaction designed to protect us from immediate dangers. This response is critical for our survival; it readies us to either confront a threat head-on (fight) or escape to safety (flight).
However, the amygdala‘s protective nature can also become a roadblock when it comes to adapting to new situations or changes. It often perceives unfamiliar situations or drastic changes as threats, leading to resistance or fear.
The key to navigating this ‘change blocker’ lies in understanding how it works. If changes are introduced gradually and are small enough, they are less likely to trigger the amygdala‘s alarm system. This approach allows you to sidestep the emotional resistance stirred up by the amygdala and tap more into your logical thinking processes. Thus, by using this method, you’re working with, not against, your brain’s natural tendency to resist sudden changes, facilitating the acceptance of positive transformations in your life.
👣 The Kaizen Way （改善）: Small Steps for Big Change
Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning ‘change for the better’ or ‘continuous improvement,’ serves as the foundation of Robert Maurer’s approach to making significant life changes. Maurer, Ph.D., author of “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way,” emphasizes making small, manageable changes. This approach avoids triggering the fear that often comes with significant changes or goals.
By making these small changes consistently and patiently, your brain gets the chance to adjust and gradually adapt itself. This adaptation process is vital for creating lasting change, although it typically takes longer than you might expect. So, the Kaizen way champions gradual progress over instantaneous transformation, paving a path towards meaningful and enduring change in one’s life.
👣🏅Applying Small Steps to Bigger Changes
When tackling significant changes or goals, like running a marathon or quitting smoking, the approach remains the same. Start by identifying the smallest, actionable, and achievable step you can take daily without setting off your amygdala.
Take training for a marathon as an example. If you’re not accustomed to running, it wouldn’t be wise to start running extensively right off the bat. Instead, set a humble, easily achievable goal first, such as walking around 5,000 steps a day. Commit to this goal for two weeks. Once you successfully reach this milestone, reward yourself with a small celebration. This achievement and the associated positive emotions will stimulate a dopamine release in your brain, encouraging you to maintain this new habit.
Now, it’s time to gradually increase your daily steps. Consider walking 7,000 steps daily for the next two weeks. After you comfortably achieve this, raise the bar again, this time to 10,000 steps a day. After reaching this new goal, you might want to start jogging, perhaps a quarter of a mile each day.
The key is to patiently and consistently incorporate these small increments, allowing your brain sufficient time to adjust. Through the gradual escalation of your goals, you’ll eventually manifest the enduring change you desire.
🚀 Take Action Now!
Consider a change you wish to make. Identify the smallest tangible step you can take that won’t induce fear. Then, take action! By consistently implementing small, manageable changes, you’ll effect lasting transformations in your life. Change your life the Kaizen way!