Laurie Swanson Blog

Big Ideals, Small Tweaks

Last month I wrote about discipline and accountability and how just the thought of "having to do something" makes my stomach hurt. Check it out here: June 2016 Blog

I have continued to consider the why of this. Then I picked up Gretchen Rubin's latest book Better than Before: What I Learned about Making and Breaking Habits. In it Gretchen describes four types of people as it relates to habits:

The Upholder -Responds readily to both outer and inner expectations. They love the to-do list. They want to know what is expected of them and then meet those expectations.

The Questioner-Questions all expectations, will meet an expectation only if they believe it is justified. They are motivated by reason, logic and fairness.

The Obligor-Responds readily to outer expectations but struggles to meet inner expectations. They are motivated by external accountability.

The Rebel-Resists all expectations, inner and outer alike, choosing instead to act from a sense of choice, of freedom.

This was a bit of an ah-ha for me. Of course, I see myself as a blend of all four responding differently under different circumstances but, most of the time, I am the Rebel.

No wonder the idea of accountability and being disciplined make me cringe. That is not how I like to get things done. I do not like to be told what to do and when to do it. I like to make my own decisions and choices. I like to "own" it-whatever IT is at the time. I am very comfortable owning my own mistakes but I also like to own my successes.
One of my first bosses recognized this about me way before I did.

I had just given notice to go work in a more traditional sales job. I thought I wanted the security of getting paid a base salary versus straight commission and to work for a much larger firm with career advancement. After accepting my resignation, he said, "Laurie, you are a maverick. You are going to hate working for someone else under a prescribed schedule in a prescribed way."

Oh how right he was! It took me a couple of years to realize it but that soul-crushing job was the catalyst to me starting my own business and owning the Rebel within.

The other piece that Gretchen talks about in her book, is that making big CHANGES all at once does not often work. I know this is true for me. I have an ideal. Something I want to do. Stick to a healthy eating plan. Write every day. Then I start. Go along strong. Then I stop. Then start again after a time. Same goal. Then I stop. Then I feel like a failure and may even talk negatively to myself about how I am undisciplined which does not help in trying to incorporate a new way of doing or being.

This led me to the idea of Big Ideals and Little Tweaks.

What if we start with our Big Ideal of what we want to manifest in our life and then, instead of taking a big, giant leap we do a small tiny steps instead? This is not a new idea, breaking something big into bite-sized chunks, but I like this process.

If you are game and have a new habit you would like to begin, then Try This:

Finish this sentence (I got this from something I learned in my recent Passion Test Certification Course from Janet and Chris Attwood)

When my (pick one: fitness routine, writing routine, healthy lifestyle, career, house) is ideal I am:

Now list at least 10 things related to how your ideal choice would be if you did not let your dislike of accountability, dislike of being told what to do, fear of change, desire to know it all first, living from the shoulds, having the need to please etc. get in your way.

These ways of being cannot exist in this exercise. This is just about you living the life you have been yearning for NOW.

Once you have your list, take one thing on it that could really have a huge impact for you if you were to follow through with it and see if there is One Little Tweak you could make in that direction. And then, like the boat and the horizon, I suspect your 1 degree of tweak will change you by 1000 degrees in the not too distant future.

Check out my example:

Big Ideals

When my health and fitness routine is ideal I am:

  1. Eating organic fruits, veggies, nuts, lean proteins, and legumes at every meal. This is my primary FUEL.
  2. Sugar is not a part of my diet any longer.
  3. I walk every morning for at least 30 minutes.
  4. I get at least 7 hours of good rest every night.
  5. I love to drink plenty of water daily as my primary beverage.
  6. I have fun with my friends and family regularly and laugh a lot!
  7. I meditate/get quiet for a minimum of 20 minutes every day.
  8. I read and/or listen to uplifting programs (Joel Osteen, Oprah Super Soul Sundays) and books every day.
  9. I spend time in nature every day.
  10. I express gratitude and appreciation in every moment.

Little Tweaks

First, choose one of your top 10 and see what little tweak you can make to move closer to that being a part of your life

  1. I love to drink plenty of water daily as my primary beverage

My Tweak: Every morning, right after I brush my teeth, I will drink a large glass of water. This is a technique where I am tying my new habit to a current routine making it more likely that I will remember and do it.

Now email me at or post your Big Ideal and Little Tweak on my Facebook page.


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