Wooden bridge in a park with text overlay: Why One Small Change Can Improve Wellness

[Wellness Wednesday] Why One Small Change Can Improve Wellness

Do you ever feel that all the sides of your Wellness Wheel are going flat? Some days it can sure seem that way…. Of course, we know that’s generally not the case even if that’s the way it feels.

As we’ve discussed before, there are so many dimensions to wellness – physical, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational, intellectual, financial, and environmental – and if any of them are lacking it can affect our overall wellness. When we’re trying to make wellness improvements, sometimes we feel we have to address everything at once, especially if we feel our ‘wheel’ has multiple ‘flat spots’. Unfortunately when we do that, we can quickly become overwhelmed and give up on our wellness endeavors.

One way to combat this is to choose one thing at a time to concentrate our effort on. A single small change can help us in so many ways:

  • It can help us develop self-efficacy. As we discussed in Monday’s post, self-efficacy is, basically, believing that we can be successful. If we choose a small change that we can consistently be successful with, it gives us the confidence to take the next step.
  • We don’t feel as overwhelmed by one small change. Being able to concentrate on just one thing at a time frees us of the feeling that we have to juggle too many balls at once.
  • Once we’re able to consistently implement that one change, we can then look at the next thing we want to work on. The key is to choose small, do-able steps and build on them. Because the changes are building on one another, the discomfort that comes with change won’t be as noticeable.
  • Gradual changes allow us to build a foundation for wellness that we can stick with. Because we’re not trying to make a bunch of changes all at once we’re able to stick with the changes we are making.

Quote: Great things are done by a series of small things brought together ~ Vincent Van Gogh https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

At this point, you may be asking, “But how do I decide which change to implement first?”.   Using a decision matrix might be helpful for this. A matrix can help you get the most ‘bang for your buck’ by narrowing down what you should tackle first.

If you’re not familiar with a decision matrix, it’s basically a way to narrow down your best options by assigning each possible decision a numerical value based on whatever criterion you decide. Here’s an example

Decision Matrix. https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

For each potential change (left-hand column), go through each criteria and assign them a number. Since we have 5 criterion listed here, we’d give each criteria a score of 1-5, 1 being lowest and 5 being highest, except for those where there’s an inverse relationship. For example, if we used the criteria of Difficulty or Work Involved, we would give the harder or more demanding changes lower scores because the ones that required less work or were less difficult would be more desirable. Once numbers have been assigned for each criteria, we total them and annotate that total in the SUM column. These numbers can help us narrow down which changes we should target first.

The criterion listed in the example are not necessarily the ones you would want to use – what’s important to each person varies. Some other criterion you might want to consider might be things such as time, fit (how the proposed change fits you and your personality), cost, etc. The criterion included should be the ones that are important to you.

We live in a ‘fast food’ society. We want everything to happen quickly for us, whether it’s getting our food at the drive-thru, losing weight quickly when we start to reduce our calorie intake, or seeing immediate results when we start to do things differently. Most of the time, though, as the old saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”

Making one small change and building on it over time helps us move forward at a steady pace and improve our wellness step by step.

Have you had success with implementing small changes over time? What helped you the most? Please share!




  1. Another good post, Terri! Recently, feeling overwhelmed, I decided to evaluate my energy output, and decided what I could change. I decided to put my iPad away for a bit. It’s where I play games. Putting it away was a small thing, but it made a huge difference, giving me more time to focus on things that give me greater return.

    1. Thank you V.J., and thanks for sharing your experience! It’s amazing how much difference one little thing can make, isn’t it? I love what you said about how putting the iPad away allowed you to focus more on things that give you a greater return. I try to make sure I have one device-free day a week. It helps to just unplug that one day a week. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! You know, each person is different, and if doing everything at once works for you, keep on keeping on my friend.😊 I appreciate your kind words. Blessings!

      1. your response made me smile. after all of these years of being ill, i still have no idea what really works, but i do have a better clue at what doesn’t. You are spot on that trying to change everything at once usually leads to me feeling overwhelmed………but, i sure have tried to change many things at once……. 🙂

      2. You make a fantastic point Wendi — it seems that with chronic illness, it’s almost always more a matter of finding out what DOESN’T work than what does…. Even diagnosis is a process of elimination….😊 At least when we know what doesn’t work, we’re a step closer to finding what does.😊 Hugs!

      3. Your are absolutely right Terri…..knowing what doesn’t work can be just as beneficial! Thank you for all you do to help others in their journey.

  2. This is an excellent way of getting a different perspective on the things we do, focusing on what’s important to us individually. I totally agree to that it’s often a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race’, but sometimes it takes a shift in our thought process to appreciate this because we feel as though things should happen more quickly and more easily (when with illness more often than not it seems to become more difficult, more energy-intensive and more slow). Great post, Terri, I really appreciate the effort you’ve gone to in this one, and all your Wellness Wednesday posts! xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! You make such an important point about needing to shift our thought process first. We really do tend to want it all to happen quickly, but as you pointed out, our bodies often don’t cooperate with our desired timelines. Thanks so much for your kind words; I really appreciate them. Sending hugs your way!

    1. Thanks for your comment Brigid. I hope you find the decision matrix helpful. I’ve used them from time to time over the years, and they really can be helpful when you’re trying to choose from several different options. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you Mark! I can’t guarantee that part of it’s not old age ha ha. 😁 We’re not old, my friend, we’re just well-seasoned. Blessings to you!

      1. That’s fantastic! I look forward to hearing about it when you get in!

  3. Such great advice Terri. I remind myself to keep an eye on the long game when I start feeling that fast-food feeling, usually in relation to my novel. Small, manageable chunks is the way to tackle any big project, including life in general. It’s the first thing you learn about how to teach actually. Great post! I hope you’re feeling well these days! 💕

    1. Thanks so much Amanda! It’s so hard to get past that “I want it now” feeling, but once we’re able to do that, those small, manageable chunks you’re talking about really do help us make sustainable changes and progress toward our goals. How exciting to be writing a novel! Wishing you all the best!

  4. From my experience, it’s good to start with small steps, but you definitely need an action plan, a roadmap to what you want to achieve. I think the Decision Matrix can be a good tool to help you narrow down your options. And of course, start, don’t procrastinate! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment! You’re so right – we do need an action plan – and once we have that plan, breaking it down into small steps can help us make progress without feeling overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. And yes, the key is that we have to START!😁

  5. I’ve had success with small changes, but the problem is actually keeping up with them in your daily routine. It took me s good year before meditation became apart of my everyday life because it always felt like a chore before so I would stop lol

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad to hear you’ve had success with the small changes. You’re so right about keeping up with them in your daily routine being difficult. It takes a while to form these small changes into a habit, doesn’t it? I’m glad you were able to get past the “feeling like a chore” part of starting your meditation practice and make it a habit. 😊 Blessings to you!

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