A little bit better…

On Tuesday, I posted about the temptation to feel less-than when reading inspirational mom blogs, and the topic really hit a nerve. Since the September theme for Hallmark “Life Is A Special Occasion campaign is…inspiration, it seemed like a perfect time to continue the discussion.

I’ve been thinking more about this idea of “doing a little bit better.” How often we’re tempted to completely overhaul our lives when we aren’t quite happy with where we are – but then we never get started because, hey, a complete life overhaul is kind of an overwhelming thing! Or we try, and the changes don’t stick. Then we give up or run out of steam, and feel bad about ourselves because whatever lofty goal we fixed on seems so impossible to reach but so easy for others, and just what’s wrong with us, anyway?

We tend to think of “inspiration” as something that causes us to make huge improvements, remarkable changes. But change – even exciting, positive, fun change – is challenging to sustain. The easier we make it on ourselves, the more we give ourselves permission to be just a little bit better, the more likely that change is to stick and perhaps lead to more change down the road.

I mean, we all know this, logically. “Make small, sustainable changes” and “Take baby steps” have been advice-column soundbites probably since the dawn of the very first advice column (incidentally, I would love to know the origin of the very first advice column.) But sometimes that sentiment isn’t so easy to put into practice. We’re convinced that some day we can make Big Change X, so until then we just get stuck in the status quo. Meanwhile, we could be making much smaller, much easier changes that – while not perfect – would still feel better.

So let’s take a few minutes to identify some things we feel moved to do, the “ideal” version of that change, and then the “little bit better” alternative. I’ll go first:

I feel moved to…get my kids to spend less time on the computer and watching cartoons, especially now that we’ll have less free time in general
But instead of.
..vowing to cancel Netflix, threatening to throw the computer and TV away and declaring us a media-free family;
I can do a little bit better by…
coming up with specific “screen time” hours for the whole family to follow.

I feel moved to…spend less time working, and also less time “working”
But instead of…
declaring a hard-and-fast cutoff time of 3 PM each day;
I can do a little bit better by…
turning the computer off between 5 and 8 PM – time to get dinner on the table and hang out with the family – with the option to get back online later in the evening if I need to.

I feel moved to…be less cranky and reactive, especially in the evenings
But instead of…vowing to never raise my voice or say a harsh word again;
I can do a little bit better by...taking care to avoid my most common triggers – hunger and fatigue – and apologizing when I lose it.

I feel moved to…feed my children nutritious meals even when they aren’t at home
But instead of
…sending them to school with complicated and artistic lunches handmade from scratch each day;
I can do a little bit better by…coming up with a simple, fast lunch-packing routine that will put a “good-enough” lunch in their stomachs each day. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be way better than the lunchroom alternative! (Check back for more on my lunch-packing challenge, including a really nice giveaway, tomorrow!)

Your turn: are there any Big Things you feel moved to do, but are so overwhelming you can’t get started or sustain the change? How about coming up with a “little bit better” alternative?

This post is part of a series sponsored by Hallmark’s “Life Is A Special Occasion” campaign, but the ideas and words expressed are all mine. I’d love it if you’d sign up for the email list to keep up with the rest of the bloggers participating in these posts and find out more about special promotions from Hallmark.

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