Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can.

— Arthur Ashe

I’ve been talking about small changes leading to big shifts for a long time. I use the idea all the time with my clients. Instead of throwing all the changes they need to make at them in during one appointment, I take the approach of one change at a time over a long period of time. In the tagline for my podcast, I say, “If you change one thing a month for the next 12 months, you’ll change your life forever.” And I really believe that.

I’ve learned that this approach is really different than the way most people think and can be really challenging for some people. The more common approach is the way that we think about New Year’s Resolutions. If someone wants to change their life in the coming year, they might write down a list of five resolutions — Lose weight, eat healthy, save money, get a better job, improve my relationship. As soon as the New Year hits, they are trying to work on all those things at the same time.

With the small changes approach, you can choose one small part of a goal and focus on only changing that because it will set you on the right path. So if your goal really is to eat healthy, you can start with one small part — eat breakfast. Then you can create a plan that for the next month, you are going to eat oatmeal, cereal, scrambled eggs, or a breakfast burrito. You can prepare by grocery shopping, especially for the pantry staples. And that’s the only thing that has to change.

Arthur Ashe was the first African-American male tennis player to win the US Open, in 1968, and Wimbledon, in 1975. He said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” To me, he is talking about making small changes that will lead to big shifts. To make small changes, you just have to start where you are and do what you can.

Small changes can change your life forever.

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