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How to Change Your Life One Small Step at a Time

movingforwardI think we can all agree that there are times we feel stuck.

The slow creeping weight of stagnancy comes slowly at first until you’re in the middle of it and it’s all you can think about. Once you’re in it you feel like you want to make some huge change to shake things up.

For me that feeling came last month when I made the decision that I wanted to move. I felt tired of the city I was living in, I felt exasperated that things weren’t happening with my writing and I felt lethargic and gross.

In the last month though things have been getting a little better because I’ve made some small changes.

When you live with a mental illness like schizophrenia you sometimes get caught up in the routine of things because keeping a set routine of both lifestyle and the things you do feels much easier and more manageable than making big changes.

The point is, when you’re paranoid and delusional as I sometimes get, you realize that life is a hard thing to handle so keeping a routine of things that you do makes things that much infinitely easier.

Sometimes though, the routine isn’t the healthiest thing you can do for yourself.

I never did move because I realized that putting that much stress on myself then and in the future with worrying about a higher rent, isn’t good, especially for someone in my position.

I did need a change though because I felt the stagnancy and I knew that wasn’t good either.

I thought about buying a new chair for my living room and I thought about quitting smoking and I thought about committing to a rigorous diet but all these things seemed to be just as stressful as moving so I decided I’d start small.

One morning I just decided not to use cream and sugar in my coffee. This may not seem like much because to the lay person it isn’t but I was having three or four cups of coffee a day with a good amount of sugar and to change that alone was kind of earth shattering for me.

In the last two weeks of doing this though, I’ve lost eight pounds. That’s huge for me.

The second change I made was, and this may sound bad, taking care of my teeth. You have to realize though that when you have a mental illness regular hygiene is just as hard as going to work at a job you hate. I started brushing my teeth everyday though and that second small change is also pretty earth shattering. My teeth feel stronger and healthier and they’re slowly getting whiter and whiter and that’s a small thrill. I haven’t been to the dentist yet but I know that I’m on the right track.

The point of this all is that if you want things to change in your life, you have to start small, you have it to keep it sustainable and it has to be something that is still relatively easy.

Slowly over time as you incorporate more and more small changes into your life you’ll eventually amass habits and new routines that are better for you and healthier than the way things were going before, hell you might even lose some weight.

These things build and just like anything else it takes time.

I know I haven’t done much yet to have any significant impact but just being on the right track with these small changes makes me feel better about my prospects for a long and happy life and when you have schizophrenia a long and happy life is the ultimate goal.

For now, I’m getting there.

How to Change Your Life One Small Step at a Time

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). How to Change Your Life One Small Step at a Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 May 2015
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