Overview: We often think of CHANGE as being hard and we try to change too much at once or we resist it altogether. But making changes doesn’t have to be so painful. Transform your life and the lives of your kids, by embracing incremental change.
I’m the type of person who loves to jump into new things with both feet. I make wild, abrupt changes in my life – sometimes several at a time – but most of them don’t stick. I end up trying to change too many things at once and/or make too radical of changes and it becomes extremely difficult to sustain them.
I recently listened to a podcast by Michael Hyatt called “The Power of Incremental Change.” This podcast emphasized the importance of making small, daily changes which will transform your life over time.
I decided to put his advice into practice in my own life. It happened to be about a week before the big Daylight Savings time change. This is a day which is deeply dreaded in my house. Anything which causes me to lose sleep is not my friend.
The kind way of saying this is that I’m not a morning person. I’m usually the one who shows up at church after the time change looking like I’ve been dragged from the funeral home – not simply pulled out of bed an hour early. My attitude is surly, I feel entitled to another hour of sleep, and I’m not the most pleasant person to be around until I catch up on some of that lost sleep.
After hearing Michael’s podcast, I decided to try implementing some positive, incremental changes in my life.
One of those changes was to start waking up 15 minutes earlier every morning so that I’d be prepared for the time change. The first morning of the grand experiment was easy. I jumped out of bed, ready to face the day. I was excited to implement the change. The next day was a little bit harder but I still did it. I continued to set the clock earlier and earlier and it really wasn’t too hard.
The first Sunday of Daylight Savings this year, I was smiling and pleasant. I actually felt almost bouncy because I had been up for longer than normal before we left for church. I felt ultra-efficient. I’d even gotten in some Bible reading and prayer time before we left the house. It was definitely a positive change for me!
If you are even less of a morning person than I am, you may be thinking that you could never get up 15 minutes earlier every day. How about getting up 5 minutes earlier? Or 1 minute earlier? With that small of a change, you wouldn’t even notice the difference! If you set your alarm 1 minute early for a month, you’d be waking up half an hour earlier without any shock to your system.
I have been enjoying getting up earlier for about 4 weeks, now, and I feel so much more productive. I have a whole morning routine that I follow which helps me to get quite a bit done before my boys even get out of bed.
Getting up earlier isn’t the only incremental change you can make, however.
Here are some other positive changes you can make:
- Put $25 a week/month into an emergency fund
- Drink 1 extra glass of water a day
- Read 1 additional book a month
- Eat 1 less snack a day
- Call a family member 1 more time a week
- Mail a card 1 more time a month
Really, the possibilities are endless. It totally depends on the changes you want to make and the amount of time in which you want to make them.
We can also teach this important tip to our boys to help them transform their lives.
Small, incremental changes are so much easier to sustain than the wildly, radical changes which often characterize my life. Try encouraging your boys to make one small change at a time. Each day or each week, build on that change by making another slight change.
Here are some small, incremental changes your boys can make which will transform their lives:
- Playing 1 minute less video/computer games per day
- Watching 1 less TV show per week
- Reading 1 more book per week/month/year (depending on their reading speed)
- Being responsible for one more chore around the house
- Taking 1 more shower per week
- Doing 1 random act of kindness per day for Mom 🙂
If you try to get your child to give up playing video games because they aren’t good for his brain, you’re going to run into a HUGE WALL OF RESISTANCE. If you slowly decrease his playing time by 1 minute a day, the change will be slow enough that he won’t even notice the difference. Over time, however, there will be a huge change!
When we’re trying to make changes in our own lives it can be hard enough. When we’re trying to help our sons make changes in their lives it is exponentially harder.
These ideas may help to make the process a bit smoother:
1 – Keep it Positive
If your sons hear that you’re taking something away from them, they will resist. If you try to replace the item with something else, that will go over better. For instance, instead of actively lowering their video game playing time, work on raising the amount of time you spend as a family playing outside or working together or reading a book or volunteering… or pretty much anything. You will end up with the same result of them having less time for video games but the focus is on something positive – time together as a family.
2 – Work With Them Not Against Them
Let your kids give feedback. Boys want to have some control over their lives. Listen to their suggestions for ways to make these changes. You might be surprised at some of the great ideas that they have!
3 – Explain Why
Boys do not want to do something just to do it. They want a good reason for doing it. Why is this change beneficial? Let them see that others also value this change, not just Mom and Dad.
Try implementing some small, incremental changes in your life and in your sons’ lives and enjoy the transformation!
Question: Have you been successful at making small, incremental changes in your life? Do you have any tips you can share for successfully helping kids to make changes? Please leave a comment below.