Little choices every day: a way to lasting and meaningful change
June 15, 2022
Are you easily overwhelmed by big things like decisions, events, goals, or changes? In some respects, I’ve come to realise that I am one of those people. I am good at keeping things moving along on the surface, but when it comes to dealing with the bigger things, I can be the proverbial ostrich and stick my head in the sand. I’ll wait until the last minute to deal with it, or give in before I begin because it just seems too big. Sound familiar? It’s been a real learning curve for me actually, over many years, to come to this realisation. What I’ve come to learn is that it’s about little choices every day that lead us to lasting change.
I know this may seem obvious to many, but when put into practice, it can be challenging to get right. It’s about mastering discipline, finding routine, being accountable, and sticking to it even when it seems impossible.
A few things have brought me to this blog today. Some little things like making slow progress on house renovations and wanting to get back into the swing of it again. That’s easy enough though with a little forward planning and teamwork. Another is realising just how productive my husband is and how he just goes for what he wants in life, seemingly without fear.
I’ve unfortunately never been good at this. I overthink, rationalise, and am enough of a perfectionist to get in my own way. This has stopped me from pursuing things in life that I believed were too big, out of my league, and no more than a crazy notion. But what if they weren’t? What if, instead of letting fear hold me back; instead of being blinded by the whole picture; what if I’d taken one day at a time and made manageable choices towards my goals? I wonder where my life would be now?
So how did I get here, you may ask? I don’t like to blame any specific event in my past, but there were certainly contributing factors that influenced me far more than I ever realised. The death of my father when I was 18, naturally, was a huge event that rocked me profoundly. I didn’t know, however, just how much it had. I didn’t notice the fear that had entered my life during this time of grief and how it affected all my decisions. I’d limited myself without being aware of it, worrying about outcomes, getting scared by failure, taking easy ways out of things, and not challenging myself. It’s only now, looking back, that I see the trajectory of my choices.
A daily battle
Unfortunately, one of the main factors in my life that has brought me to where I am today is a physical difficulty. Many years ago I began to experience pain in my right knee. I received physiotherapy and was told that in order to keep it pain-free I would need to remain active. Having never been a particularly active person, and not appreciating the full consequences of neglecting this advice, the years went by and my knee began to trouble me more persistently. I made daily bad choices regarding my health. This knee problem was compounded by further injury in my twenties and, needless to say, it has steadily got worse. I cannot adequately describe the pain I have experienced over the past years.
What I did not know, however, was the mental toll this would take on me. My brain and body began to compensate for the immobility and my pain response became overactive. I began to fear little things like touching my knee. I’d make excuses about moving, fearing the pain. Stairs became a real issue and I’d alter the way I used them. Without noticing, my daily choices were making the situation worse. These little choices every day began to steal my life from me.
Turning a corner
But now I’m aiming to change this. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, they say. Well yes, but it doesn’t help you unless you do something to change your current situation. My last visit to the physiotherapist was the one that made me really appreciate the cost of these bad choices. It was 100% my fault but also 100% fixable. I just had to get my head in the right place to really make a lasting change. The real lesson has been in consistency. Finding the right balance between not enough and too much exercise. It was about starting small, knowing my limitations, and not pushing them until my mind and body had caught up and could cope. I failed many times with this and it has been so frustrating. And painful!
But as I’ve matured over the past wee while I have come to really appreciate the importance of little choices every day that really do make the most lasting and meaningful change. I’m not there yet. I’ve got a ways to go. But I do feel more hopeful. My pain levels are down. I’m learning to manage my pain when it does rear, and believe me it still does. But I feel better knowing that it’s pain from trying, from exercise, from progress.
It really is the little choices every day
I have so many things I want to enjoy in life and achieve. I don’t want my life to go by in a blur of pain and disappointed hopes. So it is so important that each day I make little choices that keep me moving forward in growth, build my character, build my strength and slowly push back that fear that would try to keep me back. Life is what we make it. So let’s make it full of little choices every day that takes us forward in hope, joy, love, and passion.