An easier way to make a small change

Smiling tennis ballHow many times have we been told to focus really hard on making a change?

Break it down into small steps!
Write out a plan!
Focus on creating a habit every day for three months and it will stick with you!!

Blah, blah, blah. We’ve heard it a million times, but how often has it “stuck” for you? For me, not too often.

So, imagine my surprise yesterday in my tennis lesson when I realized I had made a change to something I had been wanting to improve without focusing directly on it. I had improved my attitude about a small thing by looking at the bigger picture, NOT the smaller steps.

In tennis, short-term memory is a must. If you miss a shot, get over it, put it out of your mind, and move on to the next point. I have really been struggling with my lack of ability to stop worrying over the last shot and it interfered with my next shot, and the next shot, and often the one after that. Hello, landslide of unforced errors! Even in my lessons, if I missed a forehand, it was agony. I would moan and groan, yell at myself, get frustrated, and get angry. Then I’d miss several shots in a row (usually forehands, my tennis nemesis) and my play would get worse.

Enter the big picture.

Several months ago I read Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and created a life plan. I have been reviewing it weekly for several months and one of the great things that has come out of it has been my new outlook on tennis. As part of the exercise of creating a life plan, you write your own eulogy and express how you want to be remembered by family and friends. I wrote that I wanted to be remembered as always having good sportsmanship. That was my big picture.

I realized that for this big picture goal to happen, I’d need to change my attitude towards tennis. I’m not getting paid to play. It’s a wonderful hobby, a great way to get exercise, and I have met some of my best friends through tennis. It’s supposed to be FUN! While I’m still very competitive by nature, I’ve tried to tone it down and remember that every match is not life or death. I WILL make mistakes and sometimes I’ll even still win my match despite the errors!

That wonderful feeling when you realize you’ve actually made a change!

So, yesterday during my tennis lesson I began my turn at the drill we were doing with three missed forehands in a row. Normally, I’d be fuming by this point, sighing loudly (or complaining loudly!!) and deriding my tennis skills. Instead, I said to my coach who was eyeing me warily, “I’m having a few issues right now, but it’ll be OK.” He literally stopped and looked at my husband and said, “Wow!! A big change from when she used to get mad and frustrated. It’s Dana 2.0!” Right then, without even thinking about it, I realized I had changed my attitude and I was so happy! It felt great to put anger aside and just play. I knew that I had made the change, and it was going to stick because it happened without my having to even think about it! It was a small part of the pieces that needed to fall into place for me to achieve my big picture.

I love this new idea of finding a big picture goal and then focusing on how to make that happen while making other small changes in our lives less difficult.

Would love to hear if you have any big picture goals you are working on? How’s it going so far? Have you seen any smaller changes as a result?


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