Set a SMALL goal

Set yourself up for success by setting SMALL goals.

Give yourself permission to try the goal out. Make it short term. That’s the S in SMALL — short term. If your goal is to dance to one song a day, set your intention to dance each day for the next week, or the next month. At the end of that time, you can then decide if you will continue, figure out what to tweak if you need to, or try something different if you want. You get to evaluate if it works for you and if you want to carry on.

If your goal is to meditate, you could set your time frame for the next 5 days or the next 5 weeks. Your walking goal could be just for this week. Focusing your efforts over a shorter time period can help you stay on goal. Make your goal SHORT TERM.

The next requirement is to make your goal manageable on the busiest of days. The M in SMALL is — manageable. If your goal is manageable on the busiest of days, you can smile when life happens and say “I did it anyway.” Maybe you decided you wanted to walk. Instead of saying you’ll walk for an hour, set your goal at 10 minutes or more. This way if you’re rushing from one appointment to another, you can fit a 10 minute walk in and celebrate. Or your goal could be just wearing the pedometer every day. Habitually wearing your pedometer is manageable and may even motivate you to park further away or take the stairs see the steps add up. Dancing to one song a day is almost always manageable even if you’re stuck in a chair — wave your arms to the beat. Make your goal MANAGEABLE.

The A in SMALL is — Active. The goal itself is taking the action. Losing 50 pounds is not an active goal as you can’t just walk down the street dropping pounds left and right. It takes many actions and choices to lose the weight. Focus on what actions and activities you want to take to support a healthier weight. A goal of dancing to one song a day is active. A goal of measuring or weighing your food is active. A goal of wearing your pedometer or getting at least 10 minutes of walking in every day is active. What action can you take? Will you? Make your goal ACTIVE.

The first L in SMALL is — lifestyle fit. Make your goal something you might do for a lifetime. Running a marathon might be a lifestyle fit but walking is more likely to be an everyday activity you can do for the rest of your life. Instead of banning all desserts, consider setting your goal at measuring your ice cream, or always splitting a dessert at a restaurant. The goal of weight loss is not to lose pounds but to gain a healthier lifestyle so you can enjoy each day. Make your goal a LIFESTYLE FIT.

The last L in SMALL is — leveraged. It may be hard to change habits so if you can leverage your small goal by building it on or around an existing habit or behavior you’ll be ahead of the game. Remembering to dance to one song in the middle of the day may be hit or miss but turning on the music while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning could be an easy fit. Using measuring spoons and ladles to serve your starches will give you an idea of portion size without trying; after all you have to scoop them anyway, so why not use a tool that measures portions. Placing your pedometer near your watch, keys, or phone can make it that much easier to remember to put it on. Set your goal so it’s LEVERAGED by actions you’re taking already.

Stop setting yourself up for failure. Instead of setting goals that may not work, set SMALL goals.

You could consider making your SMALL goals into habits you want to build or change. A note about habits – it does NOT take 21 days to build a habit. I’m not speaking from personal experience, there is research* that shows, on average, a habit takes 66 days to build. The actual number of days needed to build a specific habit will depend on you and the behavior.

The research found a range of 18 to 254 days (yes! yes! I so agree). Some participants were unable to build a habit as the research ended before the habit was formed (in other words, it can take a really long time). In general, healthy drinking habits (such as drinking water) were easier to build than exercising (running for 15 minutes or doing 50 sit-ups). What I found most interesting was that the eating habits were harder to create then both drinking and exercise. Hmmm, that might explain a few things.

Set SMALL goals:

Short term, for the next week or the next 30 days
Manageable on the busiest of days
Active, the goal itself is taking the action
Lifestyle fit, something you might do for a lifetime
Leveraged, built on, around, or in addition to an existing habit


How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) Huffington Post

Busting the 21 days habit formation myth ‘Health Chatter’: The Health Behaviour Research Centre Blog

*How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world by Lally, van Jaarsveld, Potts, & Wardle, 2010

the WHAT of tracking

You want to track. You intend to track. But, what do you track?

Don’t say everything. Unless you’re already tracking close to everything, everything might be too much.  Since tracking helps you focus your attention and energy on changing behavior and habits, consider what you want to change.  Then track that.

You could track…

individuals walking shoes

Your steps: If your goal is to get more steps, then tracking the number of steps you get each day is important.  If you don’t know how many you did yesterday, then how will you know you got more steps in today unless you track it. Check out how 100 more steps add up.

Cute parson russell terrier dog on lead on walk with his owner10 minutes of activity: If your goal is to move more, you could track your time in 10 minutes blocks of physical activity.  A walk around the block for your morning break could be one check-mark. Vacuuming the house could be another couple of marks. Walking the dog, yet another.  Soon you’ll want to mark off one more block then you did yesterday, or you’ll make the effort to get at least one in today. Change it up.


green and red healthy foodYour servings of fruits & veggies: If your goal is to eat 5 or more servings of fruits & vegetables each day, then give yourself a gold star for every serving.  Soon you might be planning your weekly menu around your veggies to ensure you get your gold stars. Increase your plant slant.


water with mint, cucumber, and limeYour water: If you’re trying to make water your go-to beverage choice, tracking the number of glasses or ounces you grab each day can help.  Celebrate and mark each time you choose water over soda.  Drink up.


use the remote control to change channels on TelevisionYour TV time:  Your tracking goal doesn’t just have to be about increasing the better choices. Sometimes tracking can help you decrease behaviors that you want to change.  With a goal of no more than two hours of recreational screen time each day, you could track your TV time to identify your baseline watching and then make changes from there.  Remember, I may have written TV, but this could include your computer, smartphone, and tablets too.  What’s in your day that shouldn’t be?


bigstock woman decision donut fruitYour emotions, feelings, level of satisfaction, or stress:  Tracking creates awareness about choices, situations, and behaviors.  If you track your emotions or stress level before you eat, you could identify a trend that when you feel bored, you reach for crunchy snacks.  After certain situations, you note that you’re feeling extremely stressed, and you go for chocolate.  If you track your satisfaction level during meals, you may find that you stop eating when you feel comfortable and not waiting until you feel full. Make each day delicious.

WHAT will you track this week?

let go of your fork

Put your fork down between bites.  I don’t know how many times I’ve read that strategy for losing weight.  And I always gave that advice a nod and a ‘yeah, yeah’, but I never really tried it.  I always thought of it as a behavior or a habit that I couldn’t quite change.  But that changed when I read The Jean Nidetch Story by Jean Nidetch:

…people who are overweight still do the same thing.  They hold on to the fork all through a meal.  They never let go, because they’ve never learned how.

When I read those words, the light came on.  I realized that, for me, holding on to my fork was more of an emotional attachment.  It was a security blanket that I wouldn’t let go.   No wonder I’ve had such a hard time putting down my fork.  It wasn’t about changing a behavior, it was about changing my thoughts.  It was about overcoming that emotional attachment and seeing the fork as a tool for eating rather than as my Excalibur against life’s pain and frustration.  I will again be practicing letting go of my fork at least once each meal this week.

Can you let go of your fork this week?


Organizing Ideas for letting go of your fork

If you are eating with someone who eats slower than you, you could make a game or challenge yourself to:

  • put your fork down if you see their fork down.
  • sneak a peak at their plate when you’re half-way done and wait for them to catch up.

You could use your non-dominant hand to hold the fork.  I’m thinking that this would not be a good one to try in public initially.

don’t give up, tweak it

Is your small step working? – keep it

If it’s not working then – tweak it

Previously I asked can small steps really help? The answer was “of course!”

But, let’s check-in.  Are you still taking that small step?

YES! It’s easy to do – maybe it’s time to add another small step.

Yes, but I have to work at it – keep going, it’s important to build that habit.

No, can’t seem to make it work – TWEAK it.  It may not be ABCs of motivation footprint small stepa small enough step.  It may not be early enough in the habit cycle to make the desired change possible.  You could change the time of day, how often you commit to doing it, etc.  Tweak it.

Last week I committed to 5 minutes of meditation and visualization.  I had originally thought of taking 5 minutes first thing in the morning and making it a formal meditation session.  Never got around to it.  Instead I found that a few minutes of visualization while I was starting on the treadmill set the stage for a great workout.  I also chose a short mantra that I could silently say along with a short breathing meditation whenever I needed a quick pick-me-up.

I needed to tweak my small step in order for it to work.


How can you tweak your small step?


Check It Out

The difference between acceptance and giving up

PWP colored three benefits info









BOOKS about the power of small steps

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Doto Get More of It
by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D.



Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently
by Caroline L. Arnold


One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way
by Robert Maurer Ph.D.

can small steps really help?

Can taking small steps really help?

Will it really make a difference?


Well…yes, taking small steps does help and does make a difference.  Small changes are less likely to trigger fear, doubt and overwhelm.  Small steps are less likely to use up all your willpower in a day.  Small steps allow you to start down a healthier and happier path.  Small steps can stop the pain of digging the hole deeper.  Small steps are possible.

And yes, there are also loads of stories about individuals who have completely turned their lives/habits/choices around in one huge leap.  But there are so many more tales of people who struggle to make changes and end by giving up completely.  So yes, I believe in and I live by taking small steps.

What small step will I take this week for my health and happiness?  I will take 5 minutes each day to meditate and visualize.


What small step do you want to take this week?


Check It Out

Happify – games and activities to conquer negativity and focus on the positive.  Day 1 was fun.  There is a free track and a paid membership track.

multi colored circle of people icons
You’re not alone!

Get Your Paperwork DONE! PartyMarch 28

If you want to get your paperwork done with other like minded individuals.  The February party goers loved it and made amazing progress on their paperwork.

Closet Clearing Party – March 21

If you want to create a closet that supports you today.


These are online (virtual) parties so anyone can join from anywhere.


motto, theme, or microresolution

Happy New Year 2015 colorful triangles

Many people have given up on New Year’s resolutions because they never seem to last past January.  But you don’t have to give up on the idea of making a change in 2015.  You could:

Decide on a theme for 2015.  A friend of mine would always come up with a theme for the year.  One year it was ‘Wonder Woman’ and the next year included more peace and calm along with the strength.

Choose a motto for 2015.  Last year my motto was — will this help me?.  This year I’m going with —  courage to create.

Achieve a microresolution in 2015. Instead of resolving to exercise more, consider creating a microresolution.  You might focus on parking in the last stall or walking the perimeter of the store before you start shopping.  Instead of promising to eat healthier, consider building the habit of putting your vegetables on first or ordering soup (clear not creamy) as an appetizer when eating out.

For more ideas on making small moves and setting microresolutions, check out the book by Caroline Arnold,
Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently




What change do you want to see?

Check It Out

reduce * simplify * experience * live!

keep * let go * begin

review & reconsider

I’m taking a short break from the Blue Zone’s Power 9® and recommending that you spend some time reviewing and reconsidering this past year before you focus on making goals or dreams for the next year.

We often spend so much time reminding ourselves of what we haven’t achieved or planning new goals to strive towards, we fail to look back and see just how far we’ve come.  Reviewing the year allows us to reconsider why things worked, what tripped us up, what challenges we overcame, and how we might make it work next time.

I could stand at the end of 2014 and say I failed to keep the weight off.  I failed to lose the weight.  I failed to make the better choices.  [None of this is really helpful]Juggling your responsibilities can be overwhelming

However, if I reconsider the year, I can see that there was a lot going on that affected my ability to make choices. There was: helping a family member through a health crisis; my husband getting a great job in Pennsylvania and moving there in February; preparing for my CPO-CD® certification peer review; preparing the Hilo house to sell; juggling all the things I had said ‘yes’ to in 2014; building my business; moving two dogs and 2 cats; leaving friends and family behind; and waiting to be a family again with my husband.

Ooooohhhh.  That explains the struggle.  Once I reviewed and reconsidered, I stopped judging and then focused on what would support my health & happiness.  I identified that I need the weekly structure of a Weight Watchers (WW) meeting.  I also want to get more activity (beyond walking the dogs).  So, I rejoined WW last week (!!) and I’m asking Santa for a 3 month gym membership.

road sign directing you to a new life or remaining in the old lifeWhether your 2014 challenges are ending or if they will be continuing into 2015, take the time to review your year as a whole, reconsider your failures & successes, and identify what resources you need & what actions you’ll take.


What were your challenges & wins?

Check It Out

A tasty selection of 2014 Small Steps:

  • play more – Play more.  Laugh more.  Think fun!


would you do anything differently?

Woman stressed and overwhelmedWhat do you do when you’ve had a stressful week (or month) and you look back at all the poor choices you’ve made?

This week (and month) have been stressful for me and I’ve made many, many, many poor choices.  Looking back, I asked myself would I have done anything differently?  The first thought that comes to mind is – sure, I would have bought a lottery ticket and won so that I could pay someone else to paint the walls.

Once that fantasy is over, I seriously look at my choices of food, physical activity, and added responsibilities (additional stresses).  I ask myself, “would I do anything differently?  Could I have done anything differently?”  My answer is “no, not really.”

I did the best I could; I knew ‘it’ would end; and I knew that I would be able to get back on track once ‘it’ was over.  I’m not going to kick myself for choices and actions that I  would probably make again.  Besides I was making some good choices.  They weren’t all bad.  And maybe, just maybe, this week will present better choices because I’m not kicking myself for the past.

Would you do anything differently?
Do it!
If not, let it go.

Check It Out


pink hibiscus
Wishing you a wonderful week!


Leave a comment and share what (if anything) you’d do differently. 

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Would you do anything differently?

Do it!

If not, let it go.

what and how much

Screenshot 2014-10-19 07.55.27If you’re not quite ready to restrict your calorie intake across the board to lose weight, one small step you can take is to focus on reducing what or how much you eat for ONE food.

You could decide that…



  • if you choose to have bread, you’ll enjoy it without butter.
  • if you choose to have sweets, it will only be ice cream (or any one type of dessert you really enjoy).
  • you’ll substitute veggies for the potatoes, rice, or noodles when you eat out.



  • if you have bread, you’ll enjoy one piece.
  • if you have sweets, you’ll savor one piece.
  • if you have potatoes or rice or noodles, you’ll leave half on the plate.


You have the energy and the ability to focus your awareness of what you eat or how much you eat of ONE food.  This ONE food will make a difference.  Because you are building your awareness and decision muscles, you will then be able to focus on the next food, and the next.

What’s the ONE food you’ll focus on?

Check It Out

Health At Every Size® Approach from The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH)


Leave a comment and share how you are living your day. 

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balance, priorities, and multitasking

I’ve been off-balance for awhile. I’m not sure I’ve been prioritizing correctly. And I’ve been trying to multitask.

I would really love to go on to write that: I’ve been challenging my leg muscles by standing on one leg as I brush my teeth (off-balance); that I’ve been putting myself first over work (prioritizing); and that I’ve been getting my steps in by getting the house ready to sell (multitasking).

The only true statement is the last one. I have, at least, been lifting and stretching as I pull items out of cabinets. I’ve been actively lugging boxes of donations up the stairs. Anytime I have to run to the store for a missing fixture, I park far away from the front door and I take a loop around the store before I check out. That’s a productive way to multitask.

Life has been filled with some major changes in the last year or two and I’ve been struggling (and failing) to make better choices. Here’s the advice I would give to someone else in the same situation (I will be taking my own advice):

  • never give up on yourselfI resolve never to quit, never to give up.
  • do one thing, each day, that makes you smile, laugh and hug yourself
  • stop struggling against everything and instead, choose one small step to take
  • ask for additional support and look for resources

Thank you for reading Small Steps. You have been my support this past year. Each week I felt that I was accountable to you; that I had to think about what small step I could take, what insight I might share, or what idea might spark a connection. You motivated me to keep going – thank you! And thank you for sharing your wins, your struggles, your comments, and your ideas.

I’m ready to take a deep breath and dive back in to life, choices, and health.

What small action can you take this week to dive back into your health?
I have no idea what I am suppose to do ... I only know what I can do.    Captain Kirk Star Trek Into Darkness


Leave a comment and share how you are balancing, prioritizing, or multitasking. 

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