I’ve always prided myself on being a solid gift giver.
Partially because “thoughtful gifts” are a great fallback option when you’re young and broke, but also because putting real thought and energy into finding that one gift that really speaks to someone I love is the best kind of challenge.
The older I get, the more I believe that a huge pile of beautifully wrapped things-you-don’t-need doesn’t pack nearly the punch as that one small, hand-crafted and/or carefully-selected gem that speaks to your soul and makes you feel understood. That one small thing is what makes a real, meaningful impact.
Pick One Thing. One Small Thing.
We all have our own personal barometer for when something isn’t working, and like I mentioned on Instagram earlier this month, the reading on mine had been loud and clear for a little while: I was in a funk. I’d get home feeling cranky more often than not, and I’d go to bed feeling like I hadn’t done enough. (We’re so good at doing this to ourselves, aren’t we?) But even more than that, my days hadn’t felt punctuated by moments of noticeable joy like they used to be. I’d been more focused on what wasn't going well than what was worth celebrating.
...that’s not me, and it’s definitely not who I want to be or how I want to feel. So I felt the pressure to fix it somehow.
But when we carry the weight of a problem that needs solving or a change we need to make, the plan of attack is rarely one simple box to be ticked. It feels bigger, more complicated, and more overwhelming. The task of making a new house feel like home means lists of things to buy, to hang, to purge, and to rearrange. The task of getting healthier means finding a gym, getting up earlier, building a morning workout habit, changing nutrition habits, and finding ways to sustain them.
Meaningful change is overwhelming, and focusing on all the things between you and the finish line can take the wind right out of your sails.
But narrowing your focus to one small, manageable step can be enough to help you get that first bit of traction - and finding fulfillment in seeing that one thing through with soul and with purpose helps build momentum. That momentum is key for making meaningful progress towards things that matter.
Doing one small thing with heart and seeing that one thing through makes a big impact, and starts to bridge that gap between where we are and how we want to feel.
And let’s not forget what could be the best part of wholeheartedly completing just one small thing: it’s movement. Seeing that one thing through, no matter how small, is so much better than that long list of in-a-perfect-world things that you stare at, but don’t start.
One small thing breeds a sense of personal accomplishment. One small thing builds momentum. One small thing leaves us with the mental and emotional bandwidth to do it with heart, and with purpose. One small thing can make a huge impact.
You can’t do all the things - none of us can. But you can pick one thing, put some real heart and purpose behind it, and see it through.
My One Small Gift to Myself This Month
So back to that little funk of mine for a second.
Honestly, the list of things I could do to try and turn everything around is a long one. Research gyms. Create an updated business plan for next year. Crank out that email course. Rework my brand identity. Work out every morning. Eat perfectly (whatever that means). Call home more often. Approach my day job differently. Find new exciting ways to be an awesome girlfriend more often.
But lists that long are paralyzing. I look at it, and I want to do none of it. It makes me feel like I’ve already failed, and that’s not much of a motivator.
But tackling one thing - that’s doable. And not just one arbitrary thing, like blindfoldedly plucking one item off that list. One small-but-meaningful thing that resonates on that soul level. One thing that feels manageable, that sparks that little-but-necessary bit of excitement, and that breeds feelings of success.
For me, that one small thing has been starting a month-long gratitude practice for December in my Bullet Journal. I’m relatively new to the Bullet Journal bandwagon (love it. so much.) and Kara of Boho Berry is a huge source of visual inspiration on how to get the most of the BuJo experience. (Really though. Check out her Instagram. It’s organizational eye candy.) Her gratitude spread caught my eye and immediately spoke to me as something I could try fairly easily, and that could offer a hefty emotional ROI.
So I started - and I haven't missed a day yet. Already I’ve found that cultivating a gratitude habit that involves putting pen to paper every single day is a joy that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, putting pen to paper is therapeutic. Yes, tuning in and connecting with yourself regularly only builds feelings of confidence and inner strength. But it’s bigger than that. It’s a mindset shift that means noticing the little gifts readily and learning to move past the blemishes more easily. It breeds a sense of positivity and lightness that's stronger than the hiccups. It refocuses my attention on the things that matter to me, and adds meaning to my days.
Plus, I’m seeing it through. With heart and with purpose. And that alone feels like success.
My Challenge to You
What one small thing can you do now to put yourself on a track that points to where you’d like to be? What feels manageable and meaningful, and worth trying? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking!