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Small Steps to Make a Big Impact in Your Life


how to start fixing your life solve problems self help i need solutions help make my life betterWhen I look back on my military spouse journey, one thing I notice is how often it’s the little steps that took me the farthest in the long run.

Where I was Failing

I said I wanted to write books, but wasn’t writing at all. I was just talking about it. So I started small. I volunteered to write a regular column for a Ft. Lewis spouse club newsletter on Fun Cheap or Free Day Trips in that area. That gave me a deadline and an editor calling me on it. Many years later I have many more columns/blogs under my belt, and oh yes, five books and a workbook!

I said I wanted a regular yoga practice but never got around to it. “I don’t have time! I can’t take a one-hour class!” Finally I committed to 10 minutes a day, even if that was split up into three different sessions. Often it was split into one posture at a time spread throughout the day. Years later, I have a consistent 20-40 minute practice at home and attend one class a week. And yes, some days it’s still only one posture at a time spread throughout the day. But it’s a true practice that nourishes me and keeps me sane.

I said I wanted a clutter free, organized house. Ha! I come from a long line of “pilers.” I started by reading one book at a time, and incorporating one or two small steps from each. My house has come a LONG way over the years.

I tend to set big goals. I have big dreams. I think we all should. Life is full of possibilities, greater than you can even imagine, yes even in our military lives. They all start with taking one step, sometimes a baby step.

Think About Your Goals and Dreams

Over time in this series crafted for USMC Life, we’ll talk about your big goals and dreams, in all areas of your life. My coauthor/co-presenter Holly Scherer and I love the description BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals! Doesn’t that sound more fun than resolutions?

When Holly and I started doing seminars for military spouses so many years ago, we decided to share tips on ways you can move forward in small bits and pieces. We offer stress and energy management tools too but know they have to be possible in short time periods if military spouses are going to do them, with all the challenges of military life, especially during deployments.

Four Steps Towards Change

Military Spouse JourneyFor today let’s start with little steps that can make a BIG difference. Since we are all about (W)holistic dreams, these cover a few different aspects of your life.

  1. One small step to fitness? Stand up more. Research shows that too much sitting is dangerous to your health. Yes, EVEN if you work out regularly. Runners Magazine had an article titled “Sitting is the New Smoking: Yes, Even for Runners!” (http://www.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-even-for-runners?page=single ) Set your computer alarm to 20 minutes and get up to stretch. Walk while you talk on the phone, or do what I love to do. Hoopdance while you talk on the phone! It’s fun and works your core. More ideas at Let’s Talk about You.
  2. One small step to your big dreams? Talk with others who have done what you say you want to do. Identify one person in that category and invite them to have coffee or lunch (you pay!), and ask lots of questions. What resources can they share? What do they wish they’d done sooner? What skills, tools, certifications do you need, if any? People love to talk about their passions. If they are excited about what they do, you’ll stay excited and move forward.
  3. One small step to health. Military spouse Monica Dixon worked on a huge grant to change health habits of Washingtonians in the Northwest. Her #1 piece of advice at a conference I attended. “Cut out this crap!” she said as she held up a can of soda. “Regular or diet; cut it out!” Drink water with lemon, drink green tea with lemon, full of antioxidants and weight loss benefits.
  4. One small step to better family relationships. Start every dinner with the question for each member: “What good thing happened today? What funny thing happened today?” It keeps you from sliding into the “ain’t it awful” conversations we otherwise get into.

Remember, this life is a journey. Be proactive to create the kind of journey you’ll enjoy, one little step at a time.

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