We are a culture of all or nothing and instant gratification. The go hard or go home mentality pervades many facets of our lives. Getting caught up in that space leaves no room for mistakes, no flexibility for real life, no option to just be you.
“There is a lot of power in starting slow and small. The little changes add up,” says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
All too often we make the decision to commit to a lifestyle change — be it weight loss, a dietary change, or a fitness goal — and go all in at the start. It’s a common trend at the new year, when we make lofty goals for ourselves and burn out before Valentine’s Day. Humans aren’t conditioned that way; our brains like the change to come slow and steady. Fortunately, some brainiacs at Harvard concur.
Waking up one morning and demanding your body to change habits is tough. When you suddenly want to wake up earlier, hit the gym, throw away all the junk, and skip your usual fast food lunch — your body wants to scream Whoa! However, when you wake one morning and ask your body to make this one little change -- taking a 10-minute walk every day or swapping potato chips for fruit at lunch -- then the body and brain get on board together.
“For example, if you go for a 10-minute walk, then the 10 minutes becomes easier, and maybe you’ll feel good about going for 15 minutes, then 20. You’ll enjoy it, and before you know it, without overwhelming yourself, you’ll feel better.”
Once you’re comfortable with one change, the next one comes a little easier. Soon enough, you’ve made a lot of impactful changes without completely disrupting your life or burning out.