Some of the best changes in my life have come from the smallest changes I have made. But that hasn’t always been an easy lesson to learn. My nature is to go BIG, make a major impact, and more is more.

Many years ago, a friend told me about meditation. She had been meditating two hours a day and talked about it like it was a warm blanket, soaked in sunshine, where the cares of the world dropped away. It sounded like a magical place.

My first attempts at meditating were mostly torture. Most of the time, I was bored, distracted, sleepy, and pretty much felt lost. I kept one eye open on the clock, like a cowboy sleeping out on the range, waiting for the time to pass. I didn’t even last close to two hours (unless a nap took over), and I felt like a failure at reaching this land of moonbeams, happiness, and spiritual awakening.

Then it occurred to me — why not go small? What’s the bare minimum I could do, but still feel like I’m in the game? I committed to meditating five minutes a session. I affirmed that I would do no less than five, but I also wouldn’t do more. I wanted to see how successful I could be at just five minutes. I’m happy to say, it was very successful for building my habit. Before I knew it, I extended the time (joyfully and willingly), but many years later, I still hold just five minutes as my marker. It’s almost always possible to find five minutes in my schedule. Anything more than that feels like a bonus round. Like a great boss once told me, “Kelly, you need to learn how to undercommit and overdeliver.”

Like a great boss once told me, “Kelly, you need to learn how to undercommit and overdeliver.”

Starting small has worked for me in other ways too — like spending less time mindlessly snacking on social media, making better food choices, and working out. When I feel my “more is more!” tendencies creeping in that are setting me up to fail (I’m going go completely off social media! I won’t eat any grains, sugar, or dairy! I’ll sign up for the half-marathon to motivate me to run!) — I’m now getting better at stopping myself and looking for my opportunity to go small.

In the Thrive Workshop we ask people to commit to microsteps — small changes that are doable, sustainable, and set them up for success. And I can see people sometimes hesitate going so small, because surely more is more, right? But then they see the magic in making such a small commitment — it feels like they might just be able to do it.

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  • Kelly Forrister

    Getting Things Done® Expert

    I am passionate about productivity, technology, and well-being and the integration of those to help us live happier and healthier lives.