It’s important to be grateful for all the awesome people and things in our lives. That being said sometimes we look at our lives and wish we could change some of the things going on in them. Or maybe we wish we can change a lot. Probably depends on the day, week or month. The problem is we all get so focused on our daily grinds, otherwise known as the hamster wheel of life, that we feel like we can’t make the changes we want. There’s not enough time. Or we never have enough energy. Or we will get to it next month “when things slow down”. The issue of course is that things never really slow down. This is when it’s important to remember that we can can make small changes that make a big difference.
Never Enough Time
Look, I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy, he’s busy, she’s busy, we are all too busy. Being busy doesn’t make you special, it makes you someone with a life. The reality is for the most part life is always busy. The sooner you accept that instead of waiting for things to slow down the happier you will be. Or at least you’ll be more at peace with it. Just accept it and work around it instead of wishing for more time or less things to do. Instead of wishing for more time to do more things a smarter approach is to spend the time you have on things that are important to you. Time is the great equalizer, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. This is why I always laugh when someone tells me they are too busy to work out or eat better. I guarantee I am as busier if not busier than that person yet I still find time for both. Am I special? Nope, I just make it a higher priority.
Before we jump into some of the small changes that make a big difference I want to make a suggestion. I have mentioned this more than a few times in my posts but it bears repeating here. Carve out a few hours to give yourself time to reflect. I want you to write down all the things that are important to you in your life. What do you want to spend time on that makes you happy. Then make another list of the things you do spend a lot of time on. If you put the 2 lists together and they don’t match up very well it’s time to change your priorities. Make the important things in your life the same things you spend most of your time on. When you do this you won’t be one of the MANY people who say they don’t have time to work out or eat right or start their blog or spend more time with their parents. The reality is the people that complain about not having enough time really just don’t know their personal priorities well enough to spend time doing them.
Small Changes That Make a Big Difference
Now, let’s look how we can make some small changes that make a big difference.
Saving & Investing
A lot of people find it really difficult to save money. Or invest for their retirement. If you work for an employer that provides a 401k and somewhat of a match that’s a huge help. But many times that’s not enough, you have to do some on your own. Something I learned from Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki was to pay yourself first. Most of us will always owe someone. The mortgage, our cars, bills in general, you get the point. Make sure you make it a priority to pay yourself first. Plan for your future or put some money in savings on a regular basis. Besides my wife and I contributing to our 401k’s for retirement (plus IRA’s) I have an automatic weekly deposit to Acorns. If you haven’t heard of Acorns you should check it out. It’s a great way to put a little money into investing that over time, will build to a lot more. Assuming a 7% return based on traditional stock market returns here’s how $25 a week, or $100 a month would return you.
$100 per month invested for 20 years = $40,500
$100 per month invested for 30 years = $80,400
One great example of small changes that make a big difference. It’s not too hard to figure out a way to come up with $25 a week to invest for your future.
Yes, food prep can be arduous and time consuming. It doesn’t have to be. Every Sunday I food prep for about an hour. The result of me doing this means I have my breakfast’s and lunches ready to go for the upcoming week. Making my breakfast consists of sticking it in the microwave for a minute. When it’s lunch time I have to put a few things on my plate, takes about a minute. So even though I am spending the hour on Sunday food prepping I am gaining most of that time back throughout the week since the prep is already done. And of course the main bonus and point to all this is I’ve prepared healthy foods. Just about everyone I know thinks I eat really healthy. In general I do for breakfast and lunch, I then just don’t sweat my dinners as much. In general I eat really well and it doesn’t take me half of my Sunday to do it. Hows this for one of the small changes that make a big difference:
Spend one hour a week meal prepping to eat healthy through most of the week.
Meal Prepping for Weight Loss – by Emma Krieger
Lose Some Of The Distractions
Here’s one of those really small changes that make a big difference. Lose some of the distractions going on around you. The biggest source of distraction for many of us are our phones. I have one game I like to play on my phone. For the longest time I had my settings to notify me every time it was my turn in my game. And I have about 30 games going on at once so that was a constant barrage of notifications that made me look at my phone. I also have 5 email accounts on my phone that I used to get a notification for every time a new email came in. Not any more. I have turned off all notifications on my phone except for when someone actually calls me and my texts. It has significantly cut down on how many times my head swivels around to see what the latest PING was on my phone.
The phone is the most obvious example here. There’s many other simple ways to cut down on distractions in your life. It seriously just take a little bit of effort to lose some of the distractions in your life and it pays big dividends in your level of concentration.
Cut Some Things Out of Your Life
Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Most people have. It says that in most areas of life 20% of the actions account for 80% of of the results. This generally holds true to most areas of your life. I suggest you take a look at the people and things that are in your life right now. Put more time, effort, and energy to the things that are giving you the most joy and happiness. And more importantly, cut out some of the things that you spend too much time on that don’t bring you much in the way of smiles.
Dread going to work? Find a new job. Tired of the workouts that aren’t helping you make the changes you want? Try some new workouts. Always walking on eggshells around your partner? Move on. Cut out the things that aren’t adding to your quality of life. Don’t do these all at once! Remember, it’s small changes that make a big difference over time.
Say Hi To People
We all live in our own little worlds. You’d be amazed at how far sharing a smile and a hello to people will go. Will everyone smile back at you? Heck no! Many people won’t but who cares. The ones that do smile back will be a little happier on the inside that you smiled and said hello to them. It becomes contagious. And a little smiling and saying hi to other people goes a long way to making your days and weeks brighter and sunnier.
Move Your Body at Least a Little
A little bit of physical activity goes a really long way towards keeping you healthy. I’m not talking about grinding it out at the gym an hour every day – although truth be told that gets me pumped. It’s way to easy to once again fall into the hamster wheel of life of work, eat, sleep, pay bills, lather, rinse and repeat. Do some small things to get your body moving a little bit each day and you will reap large rewards. See if you can get a sit/stand desk at work so you don’t sit on your backside all day long. Park at the back of the parking lot and walk the additional 500 feet. Get up and walk around a few times each day (and say hi when you do). When spring comes around get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride. A little bit goes a long way.
Be Grateful Each Day
It’s all too easy to focus on the negative things throughout the course of the day. That jerk face John at work takes 3 days to respond to an email. Your kid has decided not to turn in homework this semester for some reason. As usual your brother hasn’t paid back the $500 you loaned him and once again you are kicking yourself for breaking down and giving it, I mean loaning it, to him. It’s easy to get hung up on the things that aren’t going the way we want them to. Guess what?
There will always be things that don’t go the way we want them to. Or hoped they would. Or we know they should. That’s just how life works. Something that helps you not focus on this nearly as much is being grateful for the things that are going well each day. Take a minute each day and think of a few things you are grateful for. You only have to spend a minute or so on this and it’s one of the small changes that make a big difference.
Get 1% Better
When we think about improving our lives in one area or another we tend to think about huge sweeping changes. Going on a job hunt to finally get that raise we deserve. Sweating for years in a gym to achieve that beach body we always dream about. Being in sales and always dreaming about closing that $1M sale. When we think about our lives being changed in the manners we dream about it can be very overwhelming and it’s easy to not even start. So don’t.
1% Better Every Day – Dr. Sunshine Macson
Instead break it down into much smaller pieces. Work on getting 1% better at something. Tell yourself you are going to get 1% better this week at something. That’s tiny, surely you can do that. And then the following week get 1% better than the last week. And so on, and so on. I’ll bet you remember there are 52 weeks in a year. That means after one year you will be 50% better at something. See what a difference that makes?
Hopefully that gives you some ideas of small changes that make a big difference over time. I saved the 1% better every day for the last point for the reason that it sums it all up. And it works wonders! It’s all about getting incrementally better at the things that are important to us.
It all starts with knowing what’s important to you. Work to slice out some of the crap that isn’t important and put a little extra effort into the things that are. And good things will happen.
Go get em,