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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

How small changes can get you out of a rut.

Have you ever started something all gung-ho only to give it up 4 days, 3 books, and 15 no carb foods later? You think in the moment- “I'm going to revamp everything, take the bull by its horns, really knock this goal out of the park.” And then you get busy at work, or your car breaks down, or a pandemic strikes. Life gets in the way and the big changes just seem too hard, too involved, too annoying. What started out as an exciting adventure morphs into an opportunity for disappointment or worse yet, self loathing… and I didn’t even bring up the treadmill doubling as a clothes rack in the bedroom.

So we hide our shame by putting the “Whole 30” book on the shelf, next to the fitness book and the Rosetta Stone “learn to speak Italian.” We keep them as tribute to our enthusiasm and in hopes that when the motivation strikes again we will have a full library of tools at our disposal. We want to believe that we will go back to it, when the time is right, when the pandemic is over, when the kids are back in school.

What if you could break this cycle and actually make meaningful progress toward those improvements in your life that you really, really want? And what if the perfect time to do it is right now. Yup, during a pandemic, when the kids aren’t in school, when the gym is closed, and when stress levels are high.

We all know that taking massive action can produce massive results. But sometimes massive action takes massive energy. I don’t really have massive energy at my disposal right now. I have “let’s make sure I shower before all my virtual patient visits today” kind of energy.

But still, I want to do more than just get through my day. If I were to ask you, “what is one thing that you really want,” how would you answer? Weight loss? Better health or fitness? More time with your family at night? To get out of debt? An inbox at zero? I bet you can even tell me what you would need to do to achieve these things. The answers are pretty obvious. Eat less, exercise more, not spend a lot of time with food prep or clean up at night, spend less money. Yet these obvious answers can seem out of reach and overwhelming.

Enter the 1% trick to finally achieving your goals.

What is the teensy tiniest first step toward your goal? Even smaller than eating 5 servings of vegetables every day or bringing your lunch to work to save money. Smaller than giving up soda or prepping all your dinners on the weekend so you can have that time in the evening. What is the first step to that step? What is something that is only a 1% change, a 1% upgrade? What is something that is so small you have no doubt that you can be consistent with it.

Can you start by making a list of the vegetables you actually like or are easy to get? Can you bring a part of your lunch, or maybe just your coffee, to work once a week to save money? Or maybe just track where you are spending money to start? Can you prep one meal on the weekend or decide ahead of time that every Wednesday is pizza night? Can you read and deal with 3 emails before you go on facebook, or amazon, or pinterest? You get the idea.

What if I told you that you could exercise without changing your clothes, without dedicating an hour a day, without paying for a fancy membership, without putting on a sports bra (I know, right?!?!). What if you just put a set of hand weights on top of your microwave and did some bicep curls every time you heat up your coffee, or 10 squats every time you hang up the phone?

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” I hear you say “but 30 seconds of bicep curls or vegetables once a day is not going to get me off my blood pressure medications or give me a beach body by June.”

You are correct. It won’t.

Let me tell me what it will do. It will stretch your brain, gently, to find new solutions. It is the trojan horse of change. Your brain won’t fight back because let’s face it, 1% is pretty painless. And what’s even better is that following through on something you set out to do results in a lovely dopamine hit to your brain, rewarding it for accomplishment. Yup, dopamine rewards you for a 1% change just like it rewards you for a 50% change.

So what happens if every few days you add another 1%? How hard is it to add 1 more percent? Soon you will be up to 10% change without the trauma of trying to maintain motivation. It’s like compound interest, with each change you build on the previous one, building interest on interest, increasing your overall profit. Or for my non-math people, it is like melting an ice cube by increasing the temperature by 1°. Sure, increasing from 25° to 26° won’t melt an ice cube but keep adding 1° and eventually that changes from 32° to 33° and the ice cube starts to melt, the baseline temperature has increased enough that this 1° change has a profound impact. Before you know it (and before your brain has time to freak out), you will start to see meaningful progress toward those things that seemed to escape you before. You will find yourself on a roll. Your new normal will be an uplevel from your previous baseline…. and 1% more.

There are times when you can make a huge change and be successful, when your why is strong enough to put up with the discomfort of follow through. Those times are a gift, a rare gift. For the rest of the time, just try 1%. It’s enough.

Leave me a comment and let me know what 1% change you are going to try! #smallchangesbigresults

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