“New beginnings start with a commitment for change and steady forward movement—sometimes just an inch at a time.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
Creating change in your relationship takes humility, courage, and consistency. Even when change seems to happen “overnight,” it is not sustained without consistent action taken over time. The little steps, consistently taken, often create the most powerful change. Consistent steps are vital regardless of whether you’re talking about getting healthy, saving your marriage, or changing careers. The work is in the minutia, not in the big sweepy acts.
This New Year, get focused on the minutia. If you want to change your relationship:
- Focus on your moves—not your partners (you have no power there).
- Choose one key area to improve on.
- Break that area down into bite-size steps.
- Implement those steps with every interaction possible.
For example, if your partner often complains about being defensive, start there. The first few steps of working on defensiveness might be:
- When it comes to defensiveness, a significant first step is to watch the world in terms of defensiveness. Notice what it looks like, feels like, and how others respond when in the face of defensiveness.
- Next, watch and get curious about how your defensiveness shows up (Hint: ask your partner s/he knows!).
- Next, pay attention to all the times you get defensive—learn to recognize it in your body, your voice tone, and even in how your partner responds to you in reaction to your defensiveness.
- Once you “see” it, begin to change it by first closing your mouth when given feedback. Don’t say a word for ten seconds and instead take a deep breath to calm your defensiveness down.
Focusing on these first three steps will improve your defensiveness tenfold; however, that is only half the answer. Continue to break down the issue into bite-size chunks until you tackle the entire issue. Significant change often happens in the minutia—focus on the minutia. Defensiveness usually entails explaining, rationalizing, justifying, blaming, or straight out defending. The litmus test for defensiveness is: can you take in feedback, hold yourself in warm regards, take accountability for your actions, and repair any hurt or damage your actions caused. Be sure you have a clear picture of the final goal or success with any issue you are targeting. It’s challenging to create change if you’re unsure what that ideal change looks like.
Challenge: This New Year, commit to making actual change. Create your vision, break it down into small steps, and then in the minutia—show up differently and consistently. And, be damn proud of yourself when you do! And, may you have a very Happy New Year!