Earlier this month I had to empty out a guest bedroom closet because an upstairs shower was leaking water into it. I was reminded of my theme of “less is more” and vowed to only put a small portion of those items back into the closet when the repairs were complete.
Earlier this week I was having a conversation with some folks about making small changes to my routine to incorporate more physical activity into my life. Just making sure I get up and move every hour would be a big improvement from my sedentary lifestyle.
A recent review of my budget showed we had eaten out twice as often compared to the past month. I know that with a little more emphasis on coupon shopping and menu planning I can save a little more money next month.
All of these things got me thinking. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re trying to pay down debt, lose weight, or get organized: One small change can make a big difference.
I know this because it is the exact philosophy I’ve used to pay off $40,000+ in debt and drop 30 pounds. I know this because I can see the difference it has made in my stress level and my bank accounts.
But I’m not going to lie to you. Making those small changes is hard work. It’s hard work because you have to break past your biggest obstacle: Yourself.
When you’ve made mistakes it’s much easier to say things like “It’s only money!” or “You only live once!” or “I’ve already screwed up so badly what difference does it make?” than it is to stop the bad behavior. It’s easier to make excuses than it is to make a change.
But we can all make one small change starting today. And we can add another small change tomorrow or next week. And eventually, those small changes will make a big difference.
When we first began our journey to pay off our debts, we started with a series of small changes. We ate out less, and cooked from home more. We clipped coupons. We buyed in bulk when things were one sale. We negotiated better rates for things like satellite television and insurance. We discovered all of the wonderful things our local library had to offer. We had frugal family game nights with friends instead of expensive nights out on the town. We washed our laundry in cold water. We made our own household cleaners. We trimmed our heating bill. We shopped thrift shops and garage sales for bargains. We saved our pennies until they began to add up to dollars.
All of those small changes we made in our spending habits allowed us to become debt-free except for our mortgage. It is a truly amazing feeling to be out from under consumer debt. It has given us the freedom for me to become a stay-at-home mom and it has allowed us to live in our dream home in the woods.
The small changes Ive made since we’ve been on Weight Watchers are making a big difference too. I’m drinking less soda and more water. I’m moving more and sitting less. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and less overly processed crackers and snacks.
Those small changes have had a huge impact on my health. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels have greatly improved since I’ve made changes to my diet and started to move more. My self-esteem has increased because I feel better both physically and mentally when I’m at a healthy weight.
I’ve learned that you may have to make many small changes repeatedly before you see the difference being made. And you’re going to make mistakes. But just keep pushing forward. Join forces with a friend or family member that can help you stay on track. Keep track of the progress you’re making and celebrate those little successes, even if it’s just with a little “Happy Dance” in your kitchen.
The key is to start. You can’t start a journey of 1,000 miles without taking that first step. You can’t pay off big debts without first addressing some of those bad habits that got you there.
Start small, but dream big with your goals in mind. I know that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
What small change can you make today that would help you reach your goals?