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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
– Henry David Thoreau  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 10 October 2017  

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Janice Tollini

  Perspectives Column
  Mini steps to making a change
  By Janice Tollini

   Janice Tollini has worked in the health care industry as a clinical psychologist for 15 years. She is now a Talent Management Consultant, and is completing additional graduate training in industrial/organizational psychology. In 2017, she will become certified as an executive coach through the World Coaching Institute. Check out Janice’s website at http://talentworksconsulting.com.

   This may seem more appropriate for Jan. 1 than a random date in September, but I don’t think we should limit our self-improvement efforts to a single time of the year. We all have a few things we could do better, do less of or simply learn to do. The media bombards us with messages about how to be healthier, wealthier and happier; however, we often continue down the same path, changing little. Does that mean we are perfectly content with our current existence or that we don’t care? No: It means that change, even simple and minor changes, can be difficult.
   
   If you have just one area of your life that you would like to be different, keep reading. I have a few suggestions, backed by theory and research, which may help you succeed at making those changes.
   
   First, why you want to make this change? Is it important to you or to someone else? Often others can see negative patterns of behaviors in our lives before we do; however, if you are attempting a change just to make someone else happy, your chances of success are minimal.
   Ask yourself if the change brings value to your life? Is it in line with your existing values? Changes that violate our belief system will be difficult to make, as we will always be internally pushing back.
   
   If you have decided the change will bring about something positive in your life, recognize that even “good” change requires effort. We are innately driven to follow the path of least resistance. For example, going to the gym is generally a healthy thing to do, with numerous benefits. But getting there can be difficult. It is far easier to stay on the couch, remote in hand, than it is to drive to the gym. Often, you feel motivated when you get there and proud of yourself when you leave, but that doesn’t always carry over to the next time you choose between the seductive couch-TV combo and turning off the TV, changing into gym clothes and starting the car.
   
   There are fewer steps involved to stay home in front of the TV. The gym is not as convenient and requires more effort. How can you make the gym more convenient? Keep your gym bag in your car and stop on the way home from work. Get all your gym stuff assembled before you go to bed, when you are chastising yourself for another evening spent binge watching old episodes of Nip-Tuck (a little self-disclosure) instead of building a healthier body. Hide the remote. Don’t turn on the TV in the first place. Make a contract with yourself that you won’t allow yourself passive leisure until you have completed a good workout.
   
   The gym is one example. Your desired change could be to eat a healthier diet. Then you get to the grocery store, and you are hungry. The chips and cupcakes and boxed meals are easier than buying meat and vegetables and cooking a meal from scratch. And what to cook? As you are likely not a walking rolodex of healthy recipes, this can be the perfect excuse. The cure? Take some time before you go grocery shopping to research a few recipes and write down the ingredients on your shopping list. The choice is made before you ever leave your driveway.
   
   The key to success is to be proactive and take steps when you are motivated so that when you are less motivated, your choices will lean toward the desired behavior.
   
   Go ahead and take those preemptive steps toward improving your life. After all, you are worth it, aren’t you?
  
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