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The Power of Small Improvements

When you think about turning your life around, you probably think of the big things–getting sober, getting a better job, finding a better relationship, moving to a better city, and so on. These are all admirable goals and will definitely have a big impact on your life but they can also seem overwhelming. They may seem out of reach or perhaps goals to think about when your circumstances improve. While it’s good to have a big goal to motivate you, it’s also important to have systems in place to help you be a little better every day. While the big steps make a big difference, those big steps are often built from many little steps. Here’s why small, consistent improvements can be a powerful way to make changes in your life. 

Small steps help you avoid the trap of perfectionism.

Many people who struggle with substance use, anxiety, and depression are also perfectionists. Perfectionism is simply the belief that whatever you do must be exactly right or something bad will happen. Perfection leads to exaggerated self-criticism, high levels of stress, and procrastination. Ironically, people who are too preoccupied with doing something perfectly never get started in the first place. 

Perfectionists are also prone to all-or-nothing thinking. They think along the lines of, “If I can’t do something perfectly and succeed brilliantly on the first try, there’s no point in doing it at all.” However, that’s not true at all. For example, let’s say you have a horrible diet that makes you feel sluggish and depressed. It may be ideal if you suddenly started cooking healthy, whole-food meals at home but that probably won’t happen right away. A better approach is to add a vegetable with every meal. Eat a carrot, for example. Is it perfect? No. Is it better? Absolutely.  

Small steps are doable. 

The example of eating a carrot seems almost trivial but that’s what makes it effective. You don’t have to change your life or even your eating habits to make yourself a little healthier. You just have to buy a bag of carrots at the grocery store and eat one a couple times a day to add significant nutrition to your diet. Eat your carrot for a while, then at some point, add some spinach or replace your fries with a baked potato. Keep making these small improvements and in a matter of months you can be eating a pretty healthy diet without too much effort. 

Small steps accumulate. 

Ben Franklin was fond of the proverb, “Small strokes fell great oaks.” Most big changes are little more than the accumulation of small changes. What’s more, small changes don’t just accumulate; they compound. For example, changing your diet can improve your mood and give you more energy. When you have more energy, you can exercise more and have even more energy and a better mood. Make whatever change you can. No change is too small to make a difference. 


Entering treatment for addiction is a big decision but it starts with the small decision to do a little research or make a phone call to ask some questions. Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. To learn more about Tree House Recovery, take the small step of calling us today at (855) 202-2138

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