No, I mean like *really* small changes. It seems to me like a lot of times when I’ve tried to make big changes in my life, I’ve been really motivated to change *everything*. “I’ll start going to the gym, and running, and I’ll stretch every night. And I’ll create a budget and save a bunch of money. And I’ll do the dishes right away every time I use them, and I’ll keep the house clean, and always fold the laundry as soon as the dryer stops.” You’ve probably been here, right? Some cosmic burst of unrealistic energy makes me think that I’ll be able to sustain that lifestyle, even in the face of all evidence to the contrary. In reality, I am essentially a lazy person. No, really.
Even when I have read all the motivational blah-blah about making small changes, I still tend to bite off more than I can chew. Maybe most people would have no problem with something like “spend one hour cleaning the house every day”. But for me, that is still too big a chunk. It turns out I have a really low tolerance for change. So about a month ago, I decided that I would just start sweeping the floor every day. Many of you probably already do this, but have I mentioned that I am a lazy person? Also, a slob. Really. But I figured, just sweeping the floor once a day is totally the sort of thing that I can do in 5 minutes while I’m waiting for a dye bath to heat up, or whatever. Our house is pretty small (just over 700 square feet), so there’s not that much to do. And we have a dog and a cat, and most of the house is wood laminate, so sweeping is a pretty big win for my 5 minutes of time invested.
Seriously, this picture is from today. I’ve been sweeping every day pretty faithfully for a couple months now, so this really is just one day’s worth of pet hair. Imagine what my floor looked like when I used to sweep sporadically every week or two. Or maybe you actually don’t want to imagine that. Just keeping it real here, folks. Did I mention that I’ve been kind of a slob most of my adult life?
So, what’s kind of cool about this (you know, other than the obvious) is that it’s only 5 minutes out of my day and it makes a *huge* difference. I could spend the same 5 minutes on lots of other things, but few of them would have such an immediate positive impact. Like, I could spend 5 minutes doing pushups, and that would definitely be good for me, but it isn’t the same sort of immediate payoff that having a clean floor is. So picking a small change that provides a big payoff has been a great motivation. If I happen to have another 10 minutes, I might even be able to talk myself into doing the dishes. It hardly ever takes as long as it seems like it’s going to, and it’s another big win. The floor and the kitchen counters are really the two big problem areas in terms of the the household. I mean, there are lots of things I should be managing better (let’s not even talk about the unfolded laundry currently on top of the dryer), but just sweeping the floor and doing the dishes makes me feel like I’m living in a grown-up’s house, instead of with a bunch of frat boys.
Speaking of small changes–and pushups–that really is my next small change. I actually tried (again), committing to going to the gym this winter and it turns out (again) that I really. just. hate. going to the gym. Full stop. I am not even a little bit motivated to keep going there. So instead, I’m trying this new “small changes” concept and I set aside a few minutes a couple days a week to do pushups and situps. That’s it. Nothing fancy, no big equipment, no major committment. Just three sets of 10 each, situps and pushups. And as a bonus, this makes me motivated to sweep the floor, since I don’t want to do pushups with my nose in dog hair fluff bunnies. So small systems, which support other small systems. So far, I’ve been doing situps and pushups at the designated times for 2 weeks. It feels good. I think I’ll keep doing it.
So what about you? What small changes are you implementing? Look around you right now. What do you see that would take you 5 minutes to fix? Go fix it. No, really. Right now.