Congratulations. We are now on the first day of our "inch by inch" campaign that we announced yesterday in Task Number 108. We begin with an assessment of where we are and what we want to accomplish. If you are overweight and you are like me, you have been overweight for years and have never successfully achieved any significant weight loss or any weight loss at all. In sad fact, you may have actually added a few more rolls to your love handles. Your garage has piled up with useless junk and outdated lawn and plant chemicals and old oil cans for generations. Your category of sins has multiplied sin by sin until you now have a Noah's Ark full of them, two by two. You spend more time twittering and texting and videogaming because you need the relaxation to forget about all the other stuff you wish you had done, thought about for a moment, and then said anemically "I know I should do that", you spend more money than you know you should, you sit on the couch for hours longer than you know is good for you, you get less sleep than you need, you can hardly move around because you are too lethargic to exercise, and so it goes. On and on and on with "I know I shoulds but I guess I can't."
We find it difficult or impossible to make the necessary changes in our lives because everything seems so overwhelming, so impossible to achieve. We have tried before to make a change and then we fizzled. The temptation to stay on our path to failure remained stronger than the motivation finally to fix something in our lives, to do what we know each day that we should do, to take care of something that we should have already taken care of.
So we are going to introduce you to the idea of making only one or a few small changes and then proceeding inch by inch, not mile by mile. If you have a boatload of faults, imperfections, flaws, sins, habits, if your house is littered with stuff you were too lazy to toss out, if your bills remain unpaid until you get five or six reminders, if you are still drinking three or four cans of sugar-laden, caffeine loaded beverages a day and taking second and third helpings at the table, help is on the way. Reinforcements are here.
We all know the old adage "Rome wasn't built in a day." No sir, or no ma'am, Rome took forever to build. Books aren't written overnight. Habits aren't changed instantaneously. Pounds don't just magically melt off with secret and miracle pills and potions. And our lives are not paved in wide, straight, and easy streets free from potholes, twists, curves, hills, and valleys. Students do not earn a bachelor's degree or a Ph.D. in an instant. New skills are not learned on the first try. Human emotions don't float on calm waters and a steady sea. Our resolve to change isn't locked into a steady course that we can follow religiously and fearlessly day by day, hour by hour. We do not become expert cooks the first time we warm something up in the microwave.
In short, everything takes effort. But the key is not to let the things we need to do overwhelm us to the point that we just give up on everything, that we quit trying, that we just forget about all the stuff we need and want to do and lapse into a Rip Van Winkle snooze of 20 or 30 years. And have you noticed that there is an inverse correlation between the amount someone bugs us about doing something we know we should do, like lose weight, and the fact that it becomes less likely we are going to do anything about it?
We are not going to see a big miracle overnight, a tsunami of accomplishments, with the inch by inch strategy. But we are going to see a little tiny miracle the first day we make a small change and then follow that small change by repeating it the next day and then the next day and then repeating it forever after. The important point is to start on a small change. Don't get overwhelmed by everything you need to change, everything you need and want to do. Just think about how big things and big results all have to start with a single small step of actually making a small change. Making a small change is manageable. Making a small change won't blow your mind, cause indigestion and worry, laden you with pressure from everything you need to do.
In the tasks to follow, we will give a series of illustrations of how specific small changes can lead to wonderful results, to feelings of elation from achieving goals that have long eluded us. For today, choose one small change of your own and make one small change. Like the movie I saw last night about a ten year old girl learning to play chess, the wise little girl learned chess one incomplete step at a time. And what do you know, she soon had the game mastered and could beat other chess players. We can learn chess, we can learn anything, we can change anything. But learning and doing are easier and more manageable if we reach our goals dribble by dribble, bit by bit, a little here and a little more there, and then, what do you know! We achieve success. And success makes our inch by inch accomplishments large milestones in the journey of our lives.
Good luck, remember Task Number 110 to make one small change, and keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.