By Leo Babauta
When I started my sea change, more than seven years ago, there were a thousand things I wanted to change about my life.
I was overweight, addicted to junk food and smoking, deeply in debt and struggling to make ends meet, disorganized, cluttered, unproductive, sedentary, too busy for my family, unhappy. To name just the major problems.
But I couldn’t make changes, no matter how hard I tried. I’ve since learned that it’s not just a matter of how much effort you put into it, but a matter of doing it in the most effective way possible.
Making 10 changes at once is not effective, I’ve found, through my experiments. The most effective method is what I’m going to recommend for anyone starting the Sea Change Program: pick one change.
It doesn’t matter what change you pick, though I do have a few recommendations. What matters is that you pick one, and even if there are 4-5 you really want to do right now, right away, just randomly pick one. Which one are you most excited about? Which one will you enjoy most? Pick that. If there are a few that are tied, choose randomly. You’ll get to the others.
So today, pick a change you can make this month. The only absolute requirements:
1. You have to pick just one, and focus on that.
2. You can only do it for 5 minutes a day. That’s the maximum. There’s no minimum time, other than you have to at least start.
In addition, here are some of my best recommendations:
- Pick something that’s positive (a new good habit) rather than quitting a bad one. You’ll get to the bad ones later, but they’re harder. Let’s start with something easy.
- Pick something you enjoy. This is actually really important. Many people make changes because they think they should. And you can do some of those later. But for now, find something that you actually look forward to doing because you enjoy it. If you want to exercise, for example, find an activity that’s fun (and perhaps social).
- Pick something that’s easy to start. If it requires buying a bunch of new equipment or clothes or driving 10 minutes to do, it’s too hard to start. If you can do it at home or in your office at a certain time each day, then it’s much easier. You should be able to do it right now, or in the next 10 minutes, or it’s probably not easy enough to start.
So today, just pick something. Don’t worry, you won’t be married to it for life. You’re just going to use it to learn about change. And once you learn about effective principles of change, you can change anything.