Your life is a series of small actions. When you look at your daily activities – the choices you make each moment – it doesn’t seem like much. But as you grow and develop, you begin to change – to build your character – you look back at your life, you’re able to clearly see the person you’ve become. The little things make a big difference and it’s more realistic and attainable than you think to make your life change.
The time is always right to do what is right – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Small honorable actions develop into a life of valuable purpose. I have this quote taped to my desk and look at it every day. Most people seem to think that it means something grand will appear as a shining moment from heaven that shows us what is right to do in this defining moment. Sure, I think that each of us will have that moment – but what if it meant more? What if it also means that the little things make a big difference – like bringing reusable containers for lunch every day? Or buying a starving college student lunch? What if it means stopping your task to really listen to someone around you? I think when we are trusted with the small things and do them right, then it becomes apparent that we’ve discovered our grand moment has appeared in that series of small daily choices.
Small confident decisions make a big difference. When I was in college, a student group wanted to bring an 80’s band to campus and the whole group voted on if they wanted this band. Everyone voted yes. Everyone except me. And when the vote was finished, everyone – I mean everyone – in the group looked at me with angry eyes. My response?
“You asked me if I wanted the band, I don’t. This is why I voted “No.” However, I am happy to support the group’s decision. So do I want it? No. Will I support it? Yes.”
Was that a defining moment for anyone else in the group? I doubt it – I would guess that no one else even remembers it, but I will remember it forever. It was one of the first times I remember boldly standing up for my opinion, even though it was different from everyone else’s. That moment taught me that I have a voice and I should be confident in sharing it with others.
Small daily progress pushes you toward your life goals. After some serious conversations with my husband as a result of frustrating conversations with others, I’ve decided I need to make some strategic changes within the next year. I have a general idea of what I need to do for my end goal, but I’ve already started making a list of the small things I need to do to get there. And now that I have most of my tasks written down, the “end goal” seems much more manageable.
Think about what you want to accomplish by next year. Do you need a new job? You’ll need to update your resume, portfolio and start getting the word out there. Do you need to lose weight? You need to set workout appointments with yourself, determine small rewards to keep yourself motivated and get out there. Are you over-committed? You need to start working on your exit strategy – recruit volunteers, write down what you do to pass it on or just don’t re-up your involvement.
Changing your life will take work, and some days it isn’t going to be fun or easy. But when you think of major life change as a series of small, purposeful decisions, it becomes more realistic to reach your “end goal.” Change is scary, especially if you’re still unsure, but you can do it and it’s much easier to get started if you start with the small things – because when you look back, you will realize those ended up being the big things, too.