It’s amazing how sometimes one small, seemingly insignificant change can make a huge difference in a person’s life.
I’ve had my share of big, obvious life changes. But even most of those started from tiny choices or adjustments that initially seemed unimportant.
So today I wanted to share a few of the small changes I have made over the past several years that have produced much bigger results than I expected.
1. Getting Up Earlier
I used to be the definition of a night owl. Up through my high school and college years, I preferred to stay up into the early morning hours and sleep as long as possible into the morning.
As I set out into my young adult life, however, I decided I wanted to change that a little. On those occasions that I did get up early, I enjoyed being awake. I liked the peacefulness of mornings and the “extra” hours. It was the actual waking up part that I didn’t like.
So I decided to start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. And I discovered something unexpected: I actually function better in the mornings. My mind is more awake and able to focus, and I feel better about myself. I also realized that when I stay up late at night, it’s really only for activities I don’t have to use much brain power or physical energy on, like watching TV.
Furthermore, once I established a more consistent sleep schedule, I found it so much easier to continue getting up earlier. Sure, there are still mornings when I roll over in bed and go back to sleep instead of getting up when I’d planned. But it’s now extremely rare for me to sleep until almost noon.
Now, this is not to say that I think everyone should be early risers. And it’s worth noting that plenty of people still wouldn’t even consider me an early riser. But I do think that each person should learn for themselves at what time of day they are most productive, and set their sleep schedule accordingly, if at all possible.
2. Bullet Journaling
I write about my bullet journal a lot, because picking up this one habit has helped me improve in so many areas of life.
Because of how I use my bullet journal, I have a much better idea of where my time goes. I am more likely to accomplish my daily to-do lists, because I actually make to-do lists. (Before I started bullet journaling, I didn’t make them very often.) By having a place to track my goals and achievements, I have been able to form other habits and stick to them more easily. And I also have a fun, creative hobby that I greatly enjoy.
Again, I don’t think everyone needs to start a bullet journal in order to be successful in planning and goal setting. Rather, the important thing is having a system that works for you.
3. Working on My People-Pleasing Tendencies
This point is less of a behavior change and more of a mindset shift. It’s the result of evaluating my behaviors and thoughts and working to make them — and to make myself — better. And it’s also very much a learning process.
I used to live in an almost constant state of trying to gauge how I was “supposed” to act and respond to things. As a result, I often suppressed how I really felt or thought. Perhaps subconsciously, I believed that giving preference to my own opinions or emotions over others’ was selfish, and that the considerate thing to do was to defer to those around me.
But all I was really doing was making myself miserable and stunting my own growth as an individual.
Learning to find a balance between taking care of myself and caring for others has helped so much in the areas of confidence, self-esteem, and happiness.
Which leads me to the last item on this list:
4. Learning My Own Preferences and Personality
Again, this one is more abstract. It’s not a single action or choice, but a series of small steps that add up to a greater sense of self and confidence.
Through the process of learning to overcome people-pleasing, I’ve been able to learn more about myself. I’ve come to a better understanding of what small things give me great happiness, what I want in life (both in terms of career and personal life), and — perhaps most importantly — what I DON’T enjoy or want. That, in turn, has helped me learn to say “no” without fear of rejection, and to know the difference between being self-centered and being honest about my feelings.
Of course, these items are only a few examples. What small changes have made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear from you.
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