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What We CAN Change

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My friend Rich came over to my office last week and we had a wonderful and authentic conversation about what's going on in each of our lives right now. I'm so grateful to have people in my life like Rich whom I can talk to and get real.

Authenticity creates freedom and having people around us we can truly be ourselves with is so important.

Rich and I talked vulnerably about our relationships, our challenges, the things we're most excited about, and some stuff we'd both like to change about ourselves and our lives.

As we were talking, Rich shared a great email with me he'd recently received about change:

What I CAN Change
  • You can't change your entire life, you can only change your next action
  • You can't change a relationship with a loved one, you can only change your next interaction
  • You can't change your entire job, you can only change your next task
  • You can't change your body composition, you can only change your next meal
  • You can't change your fitness level, you can only start moving
  • You can't de-clutter your entire life, you can only choose to get rid of one thing right now
  • You can't eliminate your entire debt, you can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item
  • You can't change the past, or control the future, you can only change what you are doing now
  • You can't change everything, you can only change one, small thing...and that's all it takes

Wow -- what a great reminder of how life and change truly work.

As I reflected on the power, wisdom and simplicity of this message, I started to realize how often I get impatient and frustrated with myself, especially in certain areas of my life, when I want to change to happen. This email reminded me how important it is to take things step by step, moment by moment.

While I do believe in thinking big, in breakthrough results and in miraculous change, paradoxically, the way life tends to unfold and real change happens is one step at a time. And, when we remember this, we allow ourselves to be in the present moment, reclaim our true power and eliminate a great deal of unnecessary worry, pain and suffering.

As Lao-tzu taught us, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step." Although we all know this and have heard this saying many times, the challenge for many of us is to remember it and live it on a daily basis.

Here are a few things you can do to practice living one step at a time:

  1. Make a list of some of the things you want to change, alter or improve in your life right now. First of all, it's important to remember that none of these changes will, in and of themselves, make you happy (only you can do that for yourself). That being said, positive change can be a wonderfully exciting and empowering thing for us to engage in and experience. Identifying what you want to change specifically is an essential first step.
  2. With each of these important things you want to change, think of some simple, small steps you can take (today or this week) that will move you in the direction you truly want. If you get stuck with any of them, ask for help. And, if you start to get overwhelmed, take a break and remember to keep things simple. These are what my friend Susan calls "micro-movements." Don't let your ego take over and judge them as too small.
  3. Celebrate each step of the way. As you notice yourself making different choices, having new thoughts and taking small, positive steps towards the changes you want, celebrate. And, if you find yourself forgetting, falling back into old patterns, or unable to take some of these simple actions, celebrate yourself for your awareness and honor your desire to change. Either way, celebrating and appreciating yourself is essential to the process.

By remembering what we can actually change and how change truly works, we're able to create true miracles in our lives -- one step at a time!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach and the bestselling author of "Focus on the Good Stuff" (Wiley) and "Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken" (Wiley). More info - www.Mike-Robbins.com

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