If You Can’t Make a Splash–Make a Ripple

7 Small Actions That Lead to BIG Change

Go Big or Go Home!

Ugh! I hear this phrase ALL the time. It has become the battle cry of the personal development movement, and though I understand the sentiment behind the phrase, I have to confess that I feel a tinge of angst every time I hear it (or see it emblazoned on a t-shirt, or as a perfectly styled & filtered Instagram meme).

I mean seriously…what’s so bad about going home? I for one, LOVE going home. Home is where I can put on my pajamas, curl up with my cat and relax with my knitting next to my protective, football watching hubby. Going home is awesome. On the contrary–going BIG can be scary, disruptive and well…did I mention scary?

While I get it that there are those brave souls out there who can throw caution to the wind and launch out on new adventures without any hesitancy or second guessing–I am not one of those people, and, I suspect, neither are you. While those mavericks of motivation do, no doubt, exist; my guess is that most of us feel a bit more restrained by real and tangible responsibilities and obligations that don’t allow us to be careless in the pursuit of our FabYOUlousness. We hear sayings like Ray Bradbury’s famous quote “jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down” or the ridiculously over used adage, “leap and the net will appear”, but instead of feeling inspired to take radical action, we just feel deflated because we know that the truth of the matter is–we can’t. We can’t just go jumping off of cliffs without a set of pre-built wings and we sure as hell aren’t going to fling ourselves out of some figurative airplane in the hopes that a magical net will appear to catch us. Hope may be a soul-soothing notion that makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, but like it or not–hope is not a strategy for success.

So, where does this leave those of us who have big, FabYOUlous goals for our lives and yet don’t feel ready to go cannon balling off a cliff into the unknown? Are we doomed to small, wasted lives of mediocrity? Will our goals languish forever in our minds without ever seeing the light of day? Will we look back on life with nothing but regret for the dreams that we never realized?

Oh come on now…don’t be ridiculous. The answer to all of those questions is a big, resounding NO!!  I have two sons that I am trying to get through college and launch into adulthood, a mortgage that needs to be paid and health insurance that needs to be provided for my family. I cannot just chuck all of my responsibilities and launch out into the unknown in a self-serving quest to live my dreams. Because here’s the thing–those sons and that mortgage are big parts of my dream. Oh sure, I have aspirations for my life and I absolutely intend to create a reality in which I enjoy financial freedom while pursuing my passions, but I’m not going to chase after these dreams with no regard for the security and emotional well being of my family. I will pursue my goals in a way that makes sense for me and I am not going to feel guilty about my approach. I may not be willing to take a giant leap but I absolutely will take the steps to build a bridge. I may not make a huge splash, but I will create a ripple…and if you’ve ever dropped a small stone into a still pond, you know just how far a ripple can go. I am going to turn my dreams into reality–but I’m not going to be irresponsible in the pursuit of those dreams. I’m going to create my FabYOUlous life but I’m going to do it on my terms and in a way that feels right to me.

I may not be ready to “go big” by making a giant, tidal wave of a splash, but I will create some ripples that will have long-lasting and far-reaching impact. Here’s how I plan to do it…

Small Changes that Add Up to a BIG Difference

  1. Put aside a little money from every
    I am fortunate in that my current employer has an employer match program that allows me to have a certain amount deducted from every paycheck that my employer then matches and deposits into my retirement account. When I first started my job, the first thing I did was max out my matching contribution amount. It’s FREE money so it would be foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity. Beyond this though, I also set aside a certain amount from each paycheck into my FabYOUlous Life fund. This is money that I use to further my life goals. Recently, I used this money to enroll in a course that I have been wanting to take for a long time. This course doesn’t start for another nine months, but once I’ve taken it, I will be certified to do the work that my soul longs to do in this world. The small ripple of putting aside a few dollars every month is what allowed me to take the plunge and make a bigger splash by paying for and therefore committing to the course. My little ripple allowed me to make a splash in a responsible way that felt right to me.
  2. Take one small step toward your goals EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Do you want to lose twenty pounds? Then maybe your small step can be going for a fifteen minute walk every day. For me, one of my goals is to write a book, but writing a book feels way too big and overwhelming to me. So…the small step that I am taking every day is simply writing one page. Writing a book is a BIG splash and the thought of writing an entire book is enough to give me a full fledged anxiety attack. Writing a page however; is just a ripple. I can write a page without too much difficulty, heck, I can even write two or three pages without causing myself too much of a freak out. This small ripple will lead to me having at least 365 pages written by the end of the year and guess what… 365 pages is more than enough for a book.
  3. Create a vision board. If you are a regular follower of FabYOUlous Life (you are a regular follower aren’t you?), you know that I’m a big proponent of vision boards. I’m not necessarily a subscriber to the notion that just sticking a bunch of pictures on a piece of poster board is all it takes to make those visions manifest in your life, but I am a believer in the power of focusing your time and attention on the FabYOUlous vision that you hold for your future, and I believe that a vision board can be a powerful tool in motivating us to take inspired action toward our goals. These inspired actions don’t all have to be giant leaps, however–they can be tiny baby steps. As long as these steps take you a teensy bit closer to your dream, they count. A vision board can help you to determine the direction in which you’d like for your life to go and thereby provide a target for the ripples that you send out. If you need a little inspiration, here’s a photo of my vision board…
  4. Do something less bad. Okay–I know that the best advice is to tell you to give up on your negative, self-defeating habits all together, but here’s the deal…you won’t do it. We all know that we need to forego the donuts for breakfast and grab a green smoothie instead or we know that we need to kick our pack a day cigarette habit and yet, all the knowing in the world isn’t enough motivation to actually inspire a change in behavior. I get it–I really, really do. My vice is Coke (simmer down–we’re talking the kind you drink not the kind you snort). I LOVE the fizzy, caffeinated goodness that is Coca Cola. It might not be the worst vice in the world but the extra calories, sugar and caffeine certainly are not good for me and it is something that I need to cut way the heck down on. Unfortunately, all of my past attempts to rid my life of Coke have resulted in abject failure. So, I’ve decided to take the “less bad” approach. Now, when I drive to work everyday I don’t stop at the McDonald’s drive-thru to get a large Coke–I get a large iced tea instead. I still drink Coke, but I don’t use it to start my day and I keep that 32 ounces of calorie laden soda from entering my system…until about 2:00. Again, I still drink Coke but now I wait until my afternoon slump to consume it and therefore my 2:00 Coke is my first (and sometimes only) Coke of the day–as opposed to the second or even third. By taking one of my bad habits and making it a little less bad, I am creating a ripple that will, over time, have a positive impact on my life.
  5. Wake up 20 minutes earlier. I’m a night-owl by nature so my penchant for staying up ridiculously late every night means that mornings are exceedingly difficult for me. As a result, I find myself running around like a lunatic, trying to chug some coffee, figure out my outfit, throw on some make-up and get out the door in time to get to work by 9:00. All of this scrambling around leaves me feeling frazzled and cranky–not the ideal way to start the day. One simple way that I’ve found to combat my morning madness is to wake up earlier. It’s simple but not necessarily easy. There’s no way that I will ever be one of those folks who springs out of bed at 5:00 AM and goes for a pre-dawn run (yuck!) but I can drag my butt out of bed 20 minutes earlier than usual. It’s not a huge splash but it is a small ripple that I have found to have a monumental impact upon my day. That extra 20 minutes gives me time to truly set my intentions for the day and go about my morning routine in a mindful (rather than maniacal) fashion–and it’s only 20 minutes so it doesn’t cause me to feel exhausted or sleep deprived.
  6. Be a committed student. No, I’m not saying that you have to go back to college or sign up for night classes at your local tech school (though those certainly are both options if they will help you to make progress toward your desired goal). I’m simply saying that one impactful ripple that you can make in your life is to remain constantly curious and open to learning more about the skills and aptitudes that you will need in order to move forward toward your goals. For example, when I first wanted to start FabYOUlous Life, I had no clue about how to create a website, so…I started to look for books, online tutorials etc. that could teach me what I needed to know. Then, once I had the basics, I sent out another small ripple by registering for a (cheap) website design class that was offered through my local recreation commission (and that I paid for out of my FabYOUlous Life Fund–see item #1). These tiny ripples helped me to gain confidence and competence in the realm of site development. I love the famous quote by Albert Einstein that says “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious”. Be sure to remain passionately curious when it comes to your FabYOUlous life and make small, consistent ripples as you continue to learn all that you can about the steps that you need to take to reach your desired destination. Adopting a practice of lifelong learning is a small ripple that can create huge waves of success.
  7. Affirm your intentions. It might sound a little too “new agey” for some of you but just go with me on this one because, affirmations work. Well, let me rephrase that…the right affirmations used in the right way work. As it turns out, repeating self affirming, positive affirmations (if you need some ideas on how to get started, check out my Affirmations Pinterest Board) can be a simple yet powerful tool for those who have a generally strong sense of self. They can help people who are (for the most part) confident and happy to gain even more confidence and happiness. The problem is…science shows that positive affirmations do not have the same empowering effect on people with low self esteem. This is because, affirmations only appear to work if the person reciting the affirmation is able to (at least somewhat) believe what is being recited. For people with severe self esteem issues, reciting something like “my body is beautiful, healthy and strong” will only serve to deflate them if, in reality, they are 200 pounds overweight and suffering from severe health issues due to the extra pounds. The positive affirmation won’t work because the individual’s mind will treat the affirmation as a lie instead of as a positive reinforcement. In these instances, studies show that it is more beneficial to recite honest, yet loving affirmations such as “Though my body isn’t what I want it to be right now, I am learning to respect it and treat it with kindness through diet and exercise.”  This kind of honest, yet self respecting affirmation can be adapted to whatever scenario is applicable in a person’s life. By incorporating whichever affirmation strategy is most appropriate for your situation, you are casting out a ripple that will have far reaching and long lasting impact on your level of FabYOUlousness.

While there no doubt will come a time when each one of us will have to take a leap of faith towards our most FabYOUlous goals, I am a firm believer that small, intentional actions taken on a consistent basis can do a great deal to move us closer to our goals and close the gap on that leap. By sending out ripples every day, we are ensuring that we are better prepared for the day when we have to make a splash.

Rockin' a FabYOUlous life as an author, speaker, blogger, coach and consumer of way too much caffeine. Let me help you to ditch the drab and find your FAB--it's possible and it's FUN!

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