If you watched the 1991 movie What About Bob? you might remember Bill Murray mincing his way through the movie muttering, “Baby steps, baby steps.” Baby steps are the key to making a lasting difference. Dramatic changes are also traumatic changes, and soon enough, we all fall back into the same rutted tracks we made before.
The way to change your life isn’t in some grand gesture. Chances are you’ve already found that out. The way to make a lasting change is with a whole lot of small steps. Believe it or not, lasting change can come in as little as two weeks and doesn’t require 30 days as you’ve probably heard before.
The first thing you need to realize is that there isn’t s a ‘set in stone’ formula to a new you. There are as many ways to achieve results as there are people in the world. What follows here is a method that’s worked for many, and only takes two weeks of solid commitment from you.
Let’s get started with two weeks’ worth of daily activities. Remember, these need to be repeated each day until a bolder and happier you is automatic. Change what fits you best. Remember, the biggest part of becoming who you truly are is by not being who someone else says you are. Do the things that make you feel good about yourself. You should always be happy with who you’re striving to be.
Here is that springboard to get you started…
Day 1: Forgive yourself for everything that’s happened before this. You’ve tried, you’ve messed up. Sometimes you succeeded. However, it worked out for you, there’s nothing you can do about the past. Start fresh, permit yourself to not dwell on what’s come before.
Day 2: Find out what you want and vocally tell yourself that you’re going to get it. The movies constantly portray people giving themselves pep talks in the mirror. Usually, we’re supposed to laugh at that particular scene, but the image re-occurs. Why? The reason is that it’s an effective strategy. Be bold and be specific. Tell yourself, “I HAVE THIS!”
Day 3: There is an adage among the military that the only wrong decision is not to make one. Now is not the time to vacillate and be unsure of your goal – reach it. Today is your day to make clear, concise decisions. What is the one small positive decision or change that you can make today to reach your goal? Today you’re doing to decide to do it – and then follow through.
Day 4: You have baggage, everyone does. Some of it is emotional, and some of it is from the past. There’s another type that you may not have considered and that’s clutter. You’re starting fresh and have chosen not to be the person you were five days ago. So, get rid of anything you haven’t even touched in a year. You don’t need it. That also goes for anything you have around the house that makes you feel bad. Don’t keep those mementos of past relationships that only bring you pain when you look at them. It’s time to clear them out too!
Day 5: Track your day. Find out how much time was spent doing what. If there are 4 hours each day in front of the TV, that might be a place to start changing, depending on the goals you have in mind. But again – DO NOT change who you are because others insist that you must. Living your life by other’s standards will crush you every time. Make the changes that benefit you personally.
Day 6: Laugh. You may have to search out something to laugh at, but make sure you do. Make a plan to laugh at least once a day. Make faces at your dog, do something silly, plan and book your next vacation, spend time making a child laugh. Laughter will always come back to you in a good way.
Day 7: Let it go. Easier said than done, but keep in mind that when you are insulted or belittled or treated in a way that makes your blood boil for a little payback, it’s already happened. Remember a time when you were hurtful and petty and the way it tore you up inside. The person harming you now is not only feeling that emotion but has become so jaded and tortured by their hate that they may never recover. Let it go. Consciously tell yourself that this is over.
Day 8: Get a baseline. After the first week, you’re beginning to make your mind more flexible, but remember that your physical health is just as important in making a new you. Get a physical, get blood work done, figure out where you are. Maybe your former attitude was partly due to hypoglycemia or something else entirely. Find out.
Day 9: You’re wrong. We all are from time to time. It’s okay. Let yourself off the hook for things you’ve messed up. Let yourself know that you’re human, and humans make mistakes, sometimes a lot of mistakes. Don’t let it stop you. Keep moving forward and clean up after yourself, when needed. If you’ve wronged someone else, this might be a good day to apologize.
Day 10: You don’t want to hear this. No one does, but if you follow it anyway, you’ll make enormous inroads to changing your life for the better. Eat healthily. It’s a cliché, eat healthily, diet, blah, blah, but it works. Your body cannot function on foods that it can’t use, and an unhealthy body will weigh down your life. There are delicious, healthy options for every kind of food craving. Now’s the time to explore them!
Day 11: You saw this one coming. What goes along with eating correctly? Exercise. Before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that no one said you had to indulge in a three-hour muscle marathon at the gym. Go for a walk, play with the dog or throw a ball with the kids. Get up, get out and move. You will feel much better, and your dog will think you’re a god.
Day 12: Read. Exercise builds the body, and reading builds the mind. In this age, we’re often buried alive in work and school and children. Reading seems a luxury from long ago, doesn’t it? Think how to get in a little reading time. For example, think about that everyday commute. What do you listen to when stuck in traffic waiting for the light to change? Audiobooks are still books.
Day 13: Reach out. There are others out there also wanting to change your life. If your goal is to lose weight, I guarantee there are tens of thousands of people that share that goal. If you are looking to increase your wealth, there are groups for that too. Find your tribe, share your journey and listen to theirs. Other people will have ideas that never occurred to you. Possibly you will inspire someone else.
Day 14: You got this far, now take it to the deep end. By now, you’re going to feel very different than before you began the journey. And so you should, you’re a different person already, someone who can laugh, who shrugs off the pettiness of the day and someone who can boldly reach for your goal.
Now go for the brass ring. Today I want you to face one fear. Are you afraid to fly? Book a short flight and return trip. Afraid of public speaking? Try something like Toastmasters or another group that deals with public speaking. Afraid of meeting someone new? Go out and socialize.
By this time, you’re probably feeling a little different. And what’s more, others will start to see you as a somebody new. You will be approached differently and met differently. You are becoming a bold, self-confident person. Other self-assured people will gravitate towards you.
As a side note, changes don’t happen overnight and people you have known for a while will carry some baggage with your name on it. If you were a downer before, or maybe just a wilting flower, you’re going to be perceived as that way for a while. Don’t fall into the trap of being who someone else decides you should be.
That doesn’t mean to say you have to wear a mask. Believe it or not, this is you. And you did it all with simple baby steps, by doing a little each day, always remembering to allow yourself the chance to shine. Those doubters will come around eventually and see the new you. In the meantime, make some new acquaintances, people who only know this version of you. They will keep you buoyed long enough for your old friends to catch up.
And look closely at the people in your life. Are they there for you? Do they uplift you and tell you that you’re doing well, or do they denigrate and deride you? There is no room for people who keep you down, and there’s no reason for it either. De-cluttering needs to happen sometimes in a relationship too. So, don’t surround yourself with people that think you can’t make it. That includes you! Don’t let yourself be the person that holds you back. The chance to be bold comes every day. The good news is, if you miss one, another will come along soon enough. Try again tomorrow.
Remember to permit yourself to be imperfect. Take that with the ability to laugh at yourself, and you will have created a fresh and exciting new you.