Small Change Adds Up

By November 15, 2011 Uncategorized

It’s a running joke (slash ongoing battle) between me and my husband; my love of using exact change. His aversion to change is so strong, he won’t even carry any. He pays for his purchases exclusively with bills, and will toss whatever change he’s given into the car’s cup holder or our coin tin at home.

This habit of his is just fine with me. I happily dive into his discarded coins on a regular basis; he keeps me in my takeout coffees and feeds my parking meters. The best part about his change-hoarding habit is our yearly trip to the ‘Coinstar’ machine, when all that change turns into several hundred spendable grocery dollars! Over the course of time, small change can really add up.

Lately I’ve been seeing how this philosophy can extend into everyday life. Having given birth to my first child twelve weeks ago, I’m finding myself presented with a bit of a double-whammy: I have work to do to get my body, my nutrition, and my yoga practice back to where I’d like them to be, but I have very very little time for myself.

I spent at least eight weeks completely stuck in inaction: there was so much I wanted to change, that the prospect of initiating that change was just plain unappealing. I wanted all the bad habits that took over during pregnancy (too much sugar, too frequent coffees, lots of napping and cheese with everything) all gone, right now. All or nothing! Valuing this sort of black-and-white thinking kept me stuck, spinning my wheels. Every single thing I wanted to change stayed exactly the same.

So I took a page from Lululemon’s book and decided to ‘do one thing’. Finding myself depressed at the prospect of giving things up, I shifted my question to “What can I add in?”. Beautiful. I started by adding a walk every single day, no matter what circumstances arose or excuses I invented. I didn’t always want to go. I might not even have always enjoyed it…. but I was always glad I went.

A week went by and I was inspired to do more. I looked at the way I was eating. What can I add in? Mentally I wanted to get complicated about this, to make lists or even a meal plan, but I’m beginning to realize how much I complicate things with maximal planning and minimal action. So I just ‘added in’ one meal a day that was full of colour. And again, while I didn’t always want to wash sprouts and chop peppers (isn’t there a frozen pizza nearby?!) I got a total charge both physically and mentally from a plate full of vibrant colours and therefore bountiful nutrients.

So these two little changes are now beginning to have a big impact beyond themselves. Consciousness has begun to arise and is spilling over into other parts of my day. The days of going to Starbucks for an extra-whip latte because I’m out and because I can are over! Or at least less frequent. And while I may not be back in my skinny jeans, I do have at least one pair of jeans that I can fasten again. And that’s something.

So I invite you to ask yourself – Where in my life do I desire change right now? The answer to this one’s simple: it’s the first thing that flashed into your head. Now commit to doing one thing: what can you add in (or if you like, take out) that supports you in achieving this change? Keep it simple, keep it easy. Resist the temptation to be perfectionistic, black-and-white, or all-or-nothing. Just do one thing. And watch your small change start to add up.

~ Samantha Newton-Switzer

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  • Kelly says:

    Hey Sam! This is great. I have decided very recently to add in chicken to my diet, but not just any chicken. I’m concerned with where it comes from, how it was made and how it was processed, so I will start at Whole Foods. I haven’t had it since 2005, but I think it will help me to improve my physical strength and my eating habits. I’m excited to find out…

  • Claire says:

    Amazing Sam, what an inspiring piece of writing, and so down to earth and real…I miss the days of wisdom that came when you were my trainer, EVEN though I whined and moaned ALOT. I am going to take your words to heart. I always go to extremes, time to learn to appreciate the pennies and nickles. Thank you.

  • Brandy De Rosario says:

    I read this at exactly the right time. As I enter my 6th month of pregnancy there is so much that i want to do, and so much that I am thinking. It’s really quite overwhelming. This reading was a cue. What I will add in is gratitude for where I am right NOW.
    Thanks, Sam.

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