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Forward Thought: Small Changes have Great Impact

Do you ever wonder why so many people talk about making changes in their lives but never really implement them?

Could it be that making change is uncomfortable? Costly? A huge undertaking? A drain on energy? These and many other barriers are historically what have been captured as reasons for not implementing change, wether that change is going for the management position within your department or changing your career entirely.

Consider this: What if these factors could be minimized or made less threatening? Studies show that when making change occur in your life, small steps are better than big ones. You can implement small changes in both your personal life and work life for great impact.

When you decide that you need to change something in your work or personal life, chances are slim that if you do not have the right plan and timeline of expectations that you will succeed. I see this a lot with clients who want to change jobs, move up within the organization or just take on more responsibility. Too many times, the change intended does not correlate with the proper amount of time needed and, least we forget, the level of energy we provide does not correlate with the level of energy it takes to actually change. The energy commitment alone can be enough to keep us stuck in one place without realizing our dreams.

But there is an answer, a way to create change in your life wether it is a new career, a new position at the same company or just more responsibility. The answer is start with small changes that ultimately add up to great impact. To better illustrate this strategy, let me share with you a story from Dr. Janet Quinn. I found this story in the book "Inner Peace for Busy People" by Joan Z. Borysenko, Ph.D.

Janet went to Australia to spend a week with a group of aboriginal elders. One day they piled into a van to search the arid outback for brush truker (Australian for "food"). Items such as witchety grubs and honey ants may seem unattractive to Westerners, but they're delicacies in the outback.

The van was bouncing along a rutted road when suddenly it slowed down. There was a camel in front, loping along at its own slow pace. The driver honked. The camel went faster. Then it slowed down again, apparently unconcerned about the van on its tail. The cycle of honking, trotting and slowing down was repeated over and over again.

As she sat in the van, contemplating the camel, it occurred to Janet that there were miles of uninhibited land in every direction, yet the camel stayed on the road. If it had made the tiniest adjustment to its course - even a fraction of a degree - it would have had endless miles of unmolested space to roam in and there would be respite from the honking and trotting. But apparently the camel hadn't thought this through, and it kept to its unconformable course.

I know what you're thinking.... "How does a story about aboriginals chasing a camel have anything to do with management or, for that matter, my career?" Well, think about it.

If your objective is to improve your networking skills, maybe you should develop more conversations with people as you make your way to the office. Networking does not necessarily mean that you are going to an extra meeting after work or scheduling coffee or lunch with someone.

If your objective is to get a new job or advance further up in management, create a file of cool jobs, updated resumes and reference articles that you store so you can refer to it when you are seeking to move to a new position. This is a lot less stressful than applying for positions, searching the Internet job sites and scheduling interviews. It provides you with a small step in the direction you ultimately want to take.

In reality, many of us do just what the camel does. I think is fair to say that we have all been the camel at some point in our lives. We hear the honking of our boss, colleagues or family members, and trot faster, doing more work, making more commitments and scheduling more events into our already busy lives. As a result, we sometimes miss the fact that the big changes we constantly think about can be attained by looking to our left and right and making small changes that can help us attain greatness that we are.

So, the next time you are nervous, feeling overwhelmed or just plain out of control, look to the small changes that you can that with will have a great impact on your life.

Eric Lutzo is the founder of Forward Thought, a coaching and leadership development practice ( He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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