3 Women Share Small Changes That Made Big Impacts in Their Lives

Psychologist Lesley Lutes shares why small changes, not new year’s resolutions, are better in the long run. Plus, three Canadian women share what micro changes they’ve made.

So many resolutions fail right out of the gate because people do what they think they should be doing, what they think is ideal or optimal, rather than what’s best for them. It’s about understanding what got you here, what’s holding you here and how you move forward in a way that’s compassionate, meaningful and sustainable.

If someone says they’re going to exercise five days a week, I’m like, “Good for you, that’s amazing. But how about just agreeing to get outside for 10 minutes in between the end of the workday and going to pick up the kids?” That, to me, is success, instead of setting these lofty, unrealistic expectations and then saying, “Screw it” and feeling like a failure. The exercise and dieting industries have taught us to think that we’re never doing enough. Another example: If you drink soda three times a day, can we get you down to one? It’s about making a relative change to what you’re currently doing—relative, not ideal.

I don’t believe that any one change should be sustained long-term—I think of it as a menu of options. You develop like 17 different strategies for making modifications that can, if you choose three small ones a day, add up. I don’t like saying, “I’ll do this every single day,” because life is so chaotic and different. So maybe a small tweak is ordering a tall drink instead of a grande, but since you may not have a latte every single day, that’s just one strategy.

This year, after 20 months of the pandemic, we should take a moment to pause and reflect on what’s important to us. How do we want to move forward with authenticity and self-compassion that’s consistent with our values? It’s not about numbers on a scale or adhering to certain diets or plans. It’s about feeling happier, healthier and finding things that bring us joy and meaning in our lives.

(Learn more about how micro health habits can boost your health.)

We asked three busy women: What’s the small change you’ve made in your life that’s had a big impact on your well-being?

new year resolution ideas | Pay Chen Credit Kayla RoccaImage: Kayla Rocca

“I put my phone down while I eat. I used to hold it in one hand to read emails and catch up on things, but it felt like I was having desk lunches for every meal for months on end. Do I now put my phone in another room and light a candle to enjoy my avocado toast? No. But I eat it with two hands.” — Pay Chen, TV host, writer and producer

new year resolution ideas | Jennifer Winter Credit Kayla RoccaImage: Kayla Rocca

“I’m trying to check my ego when a challenging situation arises. For me, that means taking a step back and catching my breath before I react. To handle a challenge with empathy. Like, when I second-guess myself while guiding a class, I try to identify the negative voices in my head as my ego, and not the reality of the situation.” — Jennifer Winter, founder of Have a Nice Day Pilates

new year resolution ideas | Michelle Epstein Credit Kayla RoccaImage: Kayla Rocca

“I prioritize sleep. I’ve got two small kids, and my mornings used to be so hectic. Now, I go to bed sooner and get up a half an hour earlier, before my kids. That’s when I have my alone time. It gives me that breathing space. It’s taken the stress out of the mornings and it sets me up for the day.” — Michelle Epstein, Owner of Elle Fitness and Social and Elle on Demand

Next: 4 Ways the Pandemic Has Taken a Toll on Our Bodies

Originally Published in Best Health Canada