One beautiful day in the not so distant future, the world will emerge from this pandemic, from this crisis of racial injustice and from this tsunami of unemployment. Hopefully we will emerge as healthier, smarter and more compassionate individuals. One thing is for certain, we will be forever changed by these experiences.
Russian revolutionist Vladimir Lenin might have been describing 2020 when he said, “Nothing can happen for decades, and then decades can happen in weeks.”
Last year, you might have thought: should I change my job, change my work-out routine, change my hair? You may have mused about these things for months, years, with no impending sense of urgency. Now, the universe has conspired to make those changes for all of us. And as Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist, “when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.”
Often, it’s the enormity of tasks required to make change that feels overwhelming. Taking a new job might sound okay but packing up and moving to a new city is more daunting. Most people can skip the sugar for a day, but the thought of doing it every single day for the rest of their lives is unbearable.
However, change is simply the effect of repeated small actions. The tomato sapling you planted in May makes infinitesimally small moves each day – and miraculously, by the end of July you will be eating bruschetta.
The world will only change when we each take responsibility for changing ourselves. Changing ourselves, simply means changing the small, repeated actions we do every single day. “The only way to get to Day 500 is to start with Day 1,” writes James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: “Embrace the long, slow walk to greatness and focus on putting in your reps.”
There are endless areas where you can change your little rituals. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Financial stability This is caring for your future self. Putting aside a little money every month and earning compound interest will result in a much greater pile than waiting for that mythical day when you have so much spare cash, you’ll put it all into savings in one go.
Allyship You probably cannot donate every day, or attend a protest every day, but every day you can find a way to hear, amplify and support voices that come from lives less privileged. Reading, researching, watching, listening, learning. Pay attention, pay respect and you will find a path.
Fitness and health If 10,000 steps a day is overwhelming, make it 10 minutes. But do it every day and when 10 becomes too easy, make it 15. If you track calories, cut them back incrementally every day until you’re in a healthy zone.
Investing Buying low and selling high is a staggeringly simple concept yet so challenging in practice. Dollar-cost averaging can help by adding into a long-term investment at the same point every month. The same dollar amount might have bought you 10 shares during January highs and 15 during the March lows when you were afraid to look at your balance. It all works out nicely in the end.
Kindness Random acts of kindness need not be so very random. Choose one small thing – making eye contact when you say thank you or raking your elderly neighbour’s lawn – and make it your thing.