I recently came across an ordinary book with an extraordinary message. In the book, 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You, author Brett Blumenthal talks about one small but mindful change we can incorporate into our lives every week. The list provided was nothing extraordinary, drink water, sleep more, set time aside as alone-time, eat your vegetables, and so on. Theoretically, we know most of these things, whether we practice it or not is a different story. However, I loved the underlying concept in the book. The reason most of us are not able to hold on to our new year resolutions beyond the first two weeks of January and, for example, end up gaining more weight and losing more confidence, is because the changes we make are erratic, and unsustainable. Extremism rarely works and one big change is a result of many smaller changes.
I want to do a “52 small changes” project (I will not call it a challenge) and incorporate changes based on what I want out of my life. And I will make my own list as I go along. I will also try to write about it once a week. Accountability to others (and self) make a difference, and I will love it if you participate too, make your own list of changes you incorporate every week, and tag me (or write a comment or email or use the “contact form” on the upper right hand side of the blog page) to let me know what you are doing. I will not hold a gun to my forehead or beat myself up if, for any reason, I am not able to follow my plans during a particular week (and I hope you do the same). Treating myself with kindness is the precursor to anything I do in life. Sounds like a plan?
What are my big five goals for the next five years? Gaining health (physical, mental, and spiritual). Obtaining tenure. Investing in a home. Obtaining permanent residence. I see that I have four, and not five long-term goals at the moment, which is even better. However, none of these can be achieved overnight. For gaining health, I have to watch what I eat and drink, how much I move myself, what I do with my time and how much drama I allow myself to engage in. For obtaining tenure, I have to publish papers, obtain grants, and at an even smaller level, understand academic writing and money management. For permanent residence, I have to publish as well, so the smaller steps for obtaining permanent residence and obtaining tenure have overlaps. For a house, I have to research about what is available, what do I want, and how can I save better. I can already see that the four bigger goals have provided me with a list of more than twenty medium-sized goals that will easily culminate into more than 52 smaller changes over the next year. So looks like I am all set. I already practice some of the smaller changes that matter to me, but I will share them on a weekly basis nevertheless. And my biggest commitment for this initiative would be to make at least one blog entry every week, talking about what small change I adopted and how I have been doing. I know that there are weeks when I will be traveling or working on deadlines, and I will not be hard on myself if I am not able to keep up. But I will try.
I wonder if the wheels in your brain are rolling too, and what small, sustainable changes you think you can incorporate in your life. I would love it if you participated and shared your list as well as experiences. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.