by: Michelle Ogden, CFP®, CRPS®, CKA®
Use reflection & small positive changes to enrich your life
Each morning, I sit with my journal and ask myself, “What would make today great?” and each evening I ask myself, “How I could have made today better?”
It’s a simple exercise that has enriched my life beyond measure.
I often say you can’t fix something you won’t admit is broken, which means that to improve any aspect of our life, we must first recognize we want a change.
That recognition must be followed by a willingness to step outside of our comfort zone because change is often uncomfortable. But we don’t have to make a giant leap, we can do it in tiny steps.
The first step is spending a few minutes in intentional reflection at the beginning and end of the day. There will be days when this honest assessment feels good and days when it doesn’t. That’s part of the process.
The next step is to decide what small change you can make to move you toward the ultimate results you want. You don’t have to fix everything at once. Instead, come up with one small thing you can do, one new habit you can develop and implement.
It’s a simple concept but we manage to make it complicated. It’s easy but we manage to make it hard. To skip the complicated and hard and keep it simple and easy, let’s begin with an understanding of why people change. John C. Maxwell put it this way:
“People change in four different seasons. People change when they hurt enough that they have to; when they see enough that they’re inspired to; when they learn enough that they want to; and when they receive enough that they’re able to.”
Whatever season you’re in, the way to achieve positive change is with consistent, manageable actions combined with conscious intention.
These actions are easier if we start with a goal and break it down into small, doable steps. We can see big results over time by making small, incremental changes using intentional reflection every day—changes that gently push the edge of our comfort zone in a way that gives us joy instead of frustration.
It only takes five minutes a day to begin the process of enriching your life. Devote two and a half minutes in the morning to asking, “What would make today great?” and two and a half minutes before you go to bed asking, “How could I have made today better?”
Distill your answers down to a small step you can take that will stretch you without overwhelming you. When you’ve mastered that step, take another. You don’t have to fix (change) everything at once; you just need to make progress.
When we figure out where we want to go and we take baby steps to get there, reaching our goal is inevitable.
Here’s the wonderful thing about intentional incremental changes: They feel really good. And you gain traction as you do them because it doesn’t take long to see results you can build on.
As you make incremental changes, you’ll learn and grow. Those baby steps can become longer strides. If you’re heading in the right direction, keep going. If you realize you need to make an adjustment, you can easily do it. Changing your route is always acceptable; quitting on yourself is not.
Going back to what John C. Maxwell said about the four seasons in which people change, I pray you’re not in the first season of pain driving you to change. However, if you are, I pray you’ll find a way to ease the hurt. I also pray you’re in at least one of the three remaining seasons—that you’re inspired to, that you want to, and that you’re able to make the changes that will allow you to live the life you were meant to live.