Micro-Change: Getting Unstuck and Hacking Your Way Into Change
After the glitz and clamor of the holiday season, January stretches out like a barren expanse. The quiet is only temporary, and that under the surface life is still busy growing, but it makes the season a bit melancholy none-the-less.
Like a careful farmer, I spent my fall pruning and weeding and paring back my activity, preparing the fertile (if somewhat empty) garden bed of my business to let winter do its thing. In winter, animals and plants take refuge underground and inside shelter to sleep, restore and recharge before Spring calls them vibrantly forth. I can feel myself replenishing my stores, allowing for deep rest, even as above ground the space and stillness makes a part of me uneasy and impatient.
This time of year, even the thought of setting goals or visioning for 2020 can feel heavy and overwhelming.
For many of my clients, the practice of goal setting is associated with failure, disappointment and dashed hopes when goals are not met. Or, conversely, clients feel a need to 'get it right' and wait for the perfect setting and inspired moment to layout the correct vision for the upcoming year.
When you wait for the perfect conditions to map your goals, intentions and action steps, you'll never get around to doing it.
To bypass the inner critics that sabotage the process of goal setting by making it too big, or too hard, or too overwhelming, the best strategy is to focus on micro-change.
Micro-changes are bite-sized experiments and steps we can action into today that will ultimately lead us in the direction we want to go.
Unlike grand sweeping plans - like moving to a new city, finding a better job, losing 15 pounds - that can feel paralyzing in their scope and scale, micro-change starts today. Go on a walk. Brainstorm a list. Send one email. Micro-change helps you think of the tiniest brave bold step you can manage now.
Follow the steps below to start micro-change in your life today and you'll be well on your way before you know it:
1) Run the experiment. Start by identifying a few areas where you know you want to make change. Brainstorm a list of micro-steps that you could take that would start to move you in the right direction and hold them as small experiments. When you think about it as a data collection exercise or experiment - instead of a step that determines the rest of your life - you will feel free to take the step and shift gear without all the pressure.
2) Break it down by half. For each step you initially assign yourself, I guarantee it is too large. Break it in half. For example, if you want to move towards a yoga practice assign yourself today’s micro-change step of looking up only one place online. Keep dividing the steps in half until you can easily complete one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed.
3) Make it actionable. Your steps should be based in doing something. Thinking about a path forward is not an action step unless it has a tangible result. Some great action steps are online search, calling someone you trust, posting on social media to ask for help, putting it on your calendar, signing up online, etc. The more you can involve other people in your action steps, the more you'll hold yourself accountable to actually follow through on the step.
4) Do it with someone else. Just because the steps in micro-change are bite-sized does not mean they are easy. Bringing a brainstorming partner into helping you identify steps and follow through with them is a great idea to help hold yourself accountable. Set a date/time of when you will check back in on the progress of your steps.
Micro-change is a perfect strategy for anytime you feel overwhelmed or stuck as it releases energy with each step you take, inching you outside of your comfort zone one step at a time. Even in the dead of Winter, these steps can successfully inspire subtle change without costing you extra energy. Try assigning yourself a micro-change challenge today and the next thing you know, you'll wake up to Spring and the change you want to see in full bloom.