Written by Emily McClements, Contributing Writer

If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I’m all about taking baby steps.  Most of the changes that we have made in our lives and around our home, have been made by making small changes that add up to much bigger overall change in our lives.

Sometimes I wish I was one of those people that dove head first into something and went all out, changing everything seemingly overnight, but that’s just not really practical or possible for me and my family in this season of life.  I’m thinking that’s probably true for many of you too.

What holds us back from making really big, quick changes?

First, there are time constraints.

Making changes usually involves a little bit of a learning curve and you need time for the changes you have made to become part of your habits and routine.  Until that happens, new things will probably take a little more time then your old way of doing things.  Especially when you have children, there’s not a lot of extra time to devote to making big changes.

Then there is the problem of information and knowledge.

Often, when there is an area that I want to make a change in, it’s usually something that I have read a little bit about, but still feel like I need to learn more about it before I jump in and make a complete change.  I like to do some research into things when I can, and I like to know that I’m making the most informed decision that I can make.  But, there’s also the problem information overload.  We all know there is WAY too much information out there about anything we could possibly care to know about.  Sometimes I feel like I have too much information and it can be overwhelming to the point that I feel like I can’t make a decision, or make a change, at all.

Finally, you may meet some resistance.

Sometimes you can be really excited about an idea, or about a change that you want to make in your family’s life, but your children, or your hubby, are not quite as enthusiastic about it as you are, or might be downright opposed to the change you are trying to make.  There are some things that it’s probably not a good idea for you to just make an executive decision about, without the support of your family.

So, in the midst of time constraints, information gathering, or information overload, and resistance to change, how can you go about making real, lasting and impactful change in your family and home life?

I think you already know what I’m going to say here…

Baby Steps

It really is all about the Baby Steps.

Photo by catatronic

Dealing with Time Constraints

Making a small change doesn’t require as much time and effort as a larger change.  And small changes can often become habits fairly quickly, so you can move onto another small change, and another, and another.

I went to a composting workshop last month and then I started collecting my food scraps and food waste to begin my compost pile. I’m still trying to figure out the best system for this, but I have a bucket on my back porch that is filling up with food waste, and I’m happy that I am throwing less food away.  Once this has become a habit for me, I will move on to creating the larger compost pile, for now, this small, doable change is a really good start.

Get the Information you need

Small changes require less information.  If there’s an area you want to make a change in, but you feel like you still need to learn more about it, see if there is some small thing that you feel good about and feel like you know enough about to get started.

Last week I tried to make a sourdough starter.  I failed miserably, it did not work for me.  I need to get more information about sourdough starters, but I thought that I knew enough that I could at least try and see how it worked for me.  Obviously, this is an example of how sometimes small changes don’t work out the way we want them to, but we can still learn from the situation and move on to gather more information and try making the change again.

Dealing with Resistance.

Small changes usually meet less resistance. Husbands and children are usually much more willing to deal with a small change rather than a complete overhaul.  Small changes don’t require as much from the person resisting the change, and are easier to explain why you want to make the change, rather than trying to explain a complete change in how you normally done things.

About a year ago I started planning a meatless meal once a week on Monday, we call it Meatless Monday.  My hubby was not excited about it at first.  But, I started looking for meatless meals that would be appealing to him, and added other things to the meals like homemade bread and dessert and he was willing to go along with it.  Now, we are working on two meatless meals per week.  It helps us keep our food costs low, increase the amount of veggies and other forms of protein we are eating, and have an understanding (although very limited) of others around the world who don’t have the luxury that we do of eating meat at every meal.

So by tackling large, sometimes overwhelming changes, in small, easy, doable steps, you can see how small changes can add up to something so much greater.  Big, dramatic, complete changes in lifestyle can all be made by taking that first small baby step.

How have you taken baby steps that have led to larger changes in your journey to more natural living?

Photo by Arkansas ShutterBug