It really doesn’t take too much to understand that we are always conditioning our behavior. Whether good or bad, that which we repeat will become part of the equation that in return forms who we are. A favorite quote of mine is as follows:
“Watch your thoughts; for they become words. Watch your words; for they become action. Watch your actions; for they become habits. Watch your habits; for they become your character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.” – Lao Tzo
The smallest things will make the biggest difference in our lives. Isn’t it interesting that instead of just taking on one small task at a time we start with a big goal and then wonder why nothing has changed? Failing to see the little changes that did happen because we are so focused on the big goal. Focusing on obtaining the end result will set us up to think we have no will power so why even try to change.
I’m going to tell you something that you might not have heard before. You don’t need to know what your end result is when you are wanting to begin. Ask any high school student what they want to do for a living and 7 times out of 10 they will be doing something different in 10 years from graduation. Knowing the end goal doesn’t declare victory, but Knowing, I want a career, or I want to lose weight is by all definitions a start.
I want to help you prove to yourself that it is possible to slowly show yourself that you have what it takes to start working toward your goals. For the next week, I want you to decide on one little thing to change and prove to yourself that you can create a habit that is important to you.
An example I am going to use is one most woman have attempted, the goal of losing weight. Realize I am only using this as an example, you can use the following concepts as you see fit for a goal of your choice.
Here are some suggestions for you to start this week:
- Do some research on different eating habits and take notes.
- Keep a food journal this week, not changing what you are eating, just writing it down.
- Choose to make one meal this week something you have never made before.
- Up your water intake daily for the week.
Creating the awareness around your habits might be an awakening for you. There is no need to jump into the latest fad; instead become an observer of your habits and let your conscience guide you to your next move for the following week.
One little thing at a time can make all the difference and having a weekly win can build up your confidence. As you prove to yourself that you can and are following through on your goals, your faith in yourself will grow. Telling yourself, “I am building my strength through small, daily successes.”
A gentle reminder for you: Because you are beginning something new, you could run into some internal dialogue or external input of resistance, or both. Be prepared to coach yourself through it and let yourself know that it is only a week and you can do anything small for one week. And if you find yourself really struggling, well…That’s what I’m here for. It would be my honor to coach you and walk beside you on your journey.
I was about eight when I was given my first journal. I remember my parents giving all of us kids journals at a family evening activity. I am guessing keeping a journal was the topic, but for me all I remember was receiving that journal. Then a few years later for Christmas my Great grandma, Sophie, gave all her grandkids journals as a Christmas gift. That is also the only memory I have of that Christmas; her picture was inside of it and it is something I treasure. In both memories, the act of being given a journal meant something to me, even at a young age I wanted to record my thoughts.
Inconsistently over the years I have kept a journal. Whether it was notes of the day, a calendar of events, or writing in a journal, keeping and documenting my thoughts seemed to matter to me. But, I couldn’t be consistent with it.
It is consistency that I think most of us lack and are, at times, a little perplexed as to why we can’t be consistent with writing down our daily thoughts. Is it that we run short on topics and content? Do we find that we are living the same repeated pattern, just on a different day?
Then why bother journaling, and what difference would it make if I do?
Reflecting on where I was then to where I am now truly helped me gain a perspective that might only have happened through keeping a journal. When you decide to keep a journal, you are deciding to grow as a person through self-reflection.
Every day I am trying to live a life on purpose. A life with openness and curiosity. In my old journal writing days I was a master at finding blame, excuses, and reasons why “others” had made it “impossible” for me to do what I wanted to do. I had truly mastered being a victim and playing that part. There are still times I might find my thoughts going down that road of victimhood, but now from creating more awareness, I can catch myself before it gets to a point that my thoughts and actions are not serving me or the people around me that I love.
For this reason, my old victimhood journals are priceless to me, not because I want to relive the pain, but because I had captured my thinking process in real time. These are emotions and thoughts during a time when I felt I couldn’t breathe. I can’t second guess my decision when I made them in the past from what I knew then. If I am truly evolving as a person, I will have gained more insight as my view could have changed over time. Looking back, I can feel the pain, but I know that pain was multiplied due to my own thoughts. Seeing that growth makes my journals that much more valuable to me.
Here are a few questions and tips that might help you in your journal writing endeavors:
Why are you deciding to take note of your life?
It is important to not judge yourself when asking this question instead ask with curiosity.
How do you want to take note?
Will you be doing hard copy or digital?
When will you journal?
Find a time a place a routine that you are willing to fit into your life.
Lastly, not a question but a suggestion: don’t beat yourself up if you fall of the wagon. We all fall off the wagon at some point. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have had to get up after falling of the wagon. Remember give yourself and others grace. As we could use more of that in our world.
Cultivating gratitude in my life has made a huge difference. It wasn’t that all of a sudden I decided to sit down and become grateful for everything in my life, then poof, it was better. The word “cultivate” infers that it will take time and many baby steps to travel on the journey toward gratitude.
One of the easiest ways I can think of to help on this gratitude journey is to begin a journal. I know, you have heard this before, and you probably have journals that you have started and stopped, scattered throughout the house. Don’t buy a new one thinking this time will be different. Instead, open up to the last page you wrote and jot down these three simple ideas:
1st Think Kindness – This simple act of becoming aware of how you might be able to serve people that crosses your path today will begin your journey. Maybe it will be a simple smile or holding open the door. Just having in your heart, the thought that, “Yes! I choose today to serve and do so with joy in my heart” will get you started on this journey.
2nd No Judgement – This one is a little more challenging and I will be honest, some days are better than others for me. Really see the people you come into contact with as a Child of God, or a fellow Spirit traveler in this world that falls and stumbles just like everyone else. It sometimes helps me to visualize them as a child, because innocence is hard to judge negatively.
3rd Ask Questions – Now this one might throw you off but let me explain. One of my favorite sayings is “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. Be sincere and ask questions, be interested, and listen. Time is valuable and when we spend it being interested in others, it will in turn bless us and we will become more grateful.
Now remember, no going to the store to buy a nice shiny new journal with pretty flowers or a cool design. Pick up from where you left off in an old one. Just doing this simple act will bring gratitude to your heart.