Small Move, Big Change | Caroline L. Arnold

Summary of: Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently
By: Caroline L. Arnold


Dive into the world of microresolutions with our summary of ‘Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently’ by Caroline L. Arnold. Discover how you can overcome the barriers to making the common sweeping resolutions, such as getting in shape or becoming more organized, by employing microresolutions – small, precise, and achievable plans tailored to your individual needs. This book emphasizes the importance of being fully aware of your actions, using mindfulness to break bad habits, and delivering instant gratification with these easy-to-implement resolutions. Achieve success by taking a fresh look at your self-imposed goals and expectations.

Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Every year, people make resolutions on New Year’s Eve, hoping to make big changes in their lives. However, studies show that most people fail to keep their resolutions, with estimates ranging around 88%. One of the reasons why resolutions fail is that they are often too broad and vague, making it easy to slip up and make excuses. For instance, a resolution to “get in shape and go to the gym” is too general and lacks specificity, which leads to excuses like skipping the gym today and starting tomorrow. Another reason for resolutions failing is the absence of a concrete plan or start point. The statement, “I want to be more organized,” may sound positive, but it does not provide a plan of action. Achieving resolutions requires more than just a desire to change, it requires specific, actionable steps. To prevent resolutions from failing, it’s important to make them specific, achievable, and time-bound.

The Power of Autopilot Habits

How our daily habits run on autopilot and affect our behavior. The bad habits are hard to break because they are governed by autopilot habits. To end a bad habit, one must develop mindfulness which requires a great deal of mental energy and willpower. Willpower being a scarce resource, breaking bad habits can be exhausting and cause a relapse. Only after severe environmental factors, it’s possible to change behavior. The key to self-improvement is to declare war on autopilot and cultivate mindfulness.

Change Habits with Microresolutions

Microresolutions are precise, practical, and achievable plans to address bad habits. Unlike broad and unmanageable resolutions, microresolutions concentrate on small, tangible changes in daily life. To make microresolutions work, focus on specific changes in behavior, not the outcomes. For instance, rather than vowing to “eat less” for a healthier lifestyle, opt for small goals like “no cookies” during daily planning meetings. The concept behind microresolutions is to make things easy and attainable, enabling you to see instant effects and maintain the changes. By cutting the habit into manageable bits, microresolutions promote reliance, satisfaction, and progress instead of guilt and disappointment.

Microresolutions for Lasting Positive Change

Making microresolutions is an effective way of changing behavior as they are small, concrete, and easy to track. It may take time to form new habits, but with consistency, they become incorporated into your autopilot. However, it’s crucial to start with one or two achievable microresolutions to give yourself a chance to adapt to the changes. Overloading with too many microresolutions may cause burnout and derail the process of behavioral change. For instance, if you plan to walk to work instead of taking the bus, start with walking every Monday, and over time, it becomes part of your routine. Once these microresolutions become part of your autopilot, you can build on top of them with more microresolutions. Remember, the goal is to make small changes and turn them into lasting habits.

Personalized Microresolutions

Microresolutions are personalized and should be framed positively for better motivation. Zero-tolerance framing is necessary for specific traps that lead to bad habits.

According to the book, microresolutions cannot be generalized because every individual has their unique needs and desires. Therefore, there cannot be a single master list of microresolutions that can work for everyone. A microresolution should be tailored to the individual’s mindset and needs. When crafting a microresolution, it is advisable to frame it positively instead of using commands. A positive-framed resolution is more motivating and easy to follow through.

For instance, suppose you have a habit of eating too quickly and going back for seconds, causing you to put on extra pounds. In that case, using a microresolution like “Chew your food slowly” may not be motivating. Instead, it’s better to frame it positively, such as “I will savor my food and drink.” This way, you can approach your meal as a pleasurable activity and make it easier to follow through on your microresolution.

However, some bad habits require zero-tolerance framing to eliminate them. For example, if checking your email before bed causes you to waste time and suffer from lack of sleep, a zero-tolerance resolution such as “Zero tolerance for using the computer after 10 p.m.” is necessary. By personalizing your microresolutions and framing them positively, you are more likely to achieve your desired behavioral change.

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