The Beauty of the Bare Minimum

When it comes to making change, there is an unsung beauty to doing the bare minimum. 

Let's say we want to start journaling, jogging, playing the piano, meditating, stretching. We get all gung-go the first day and write for an hour or jog six miles. 

The next day, though, the hot water stops working and we spend the afternoon with the plumber in the basement. Or our calves are beyond sore. Since we aren't up to six miles, can't put in an hour with our journal, we do nothing at all that day. And the next and the next.

We bit off more than we could regularly chew, which stopped us right when we were starting. 

But what if instead, on the first day, we did the bare minimum? We journaled for the amount of time it takes the coffee to brew or jogged for 10 minutes.

The next day, there's an excellent chance we'll journal again or jog again. Same with the next and the next. Because we've kept ourself to the smallest investment of time that's still meaningful. 

That's the beauty of the bare minimum: It's sustainable. 

And we want to make our change sustainable so that we can maintain it when we’re at our tiredest, least excited, least invested. The bare minimum is an amount even our grouchiest, grumpiest self can't argue with. 

As the change becomes established, we can add more time, miles, whatever the unit. But it helps to keep the minimum the bar. Journaling while the coffee brews and jogging around the block are still victories. And if we treat them as such, eventually we'll arrive at a point where our bare minimum isn't meaningful anymore, as in weight lifting, the weights become too easy to lift.

So we gently - and I do mean gently - increase our bare minimum until it's meaningful again. Maybe we jog for 11 minutes now. Which becomes our new victory.

Day by day by day, 11 minutes becomes 12, becomes 13, becomes whatever the number we want it to be. 

And that's the other beauty of the bare minimum: It can take us from where we are to just about anywhere we want to go. 

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