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COFFEE Break with Elizabeth: How Small Changes Yield Big Results

It takes courage to make changes in our lives.

Have you begun thinking about making—dare I utter the word—changes? Most people run for cover at the mere mention of the word. Or better yet, they’ll race away in search of vast quantities of chocolate. Change makes people sweat, gag, or feel a whole lot of stress and anxiety. Why? Because we get used to what is familiar. We find comfort in routine and what we can expect. Like our shabby old bathrobe with years of coffee stains that we’ve held on to for too long, we like what we know and fear what we don’t.

Our habits are familiar and have become comfortable behaviors we wake up to every day. Change takes courage because we are required to step outside the box and shake things up a bit. Some of our relationships even become like a pair of comfortable slippers that have grown worn and in need of repair. By being here with me, you’ve made a choice to find the nerve to create a life for yourself filled with happiness, self-love, self-worth, joy, compassion, and being your best. You’ve chosen what has meaning to you and what doesn’t.

There are so many variables that create change in our lives—some more drastic than others. On a day-today basis, this change is something we can set at our own pace, but sometimes our lives change in an instant because of unforeseen events. Wonderful things can show up, such as falling in love, receiving a promotion, or winning the lottery, but there are also changes that can cause great shifts or create challenges we are required to deal with. They all create instantaneous change—ready or not.

If you hear yourself talking in who, what, where, when, why, and will mode, listen carefully to yourself because change might be brewing.

Have you caught yourself saying any of the following?

• What if I quit my job?

• What will happen if I move?

• Will people make fun of me?

• Will I be okay?

• When will I resolve this issue?

• Where will I be?

• Why should I do that?

• Who will I meet?

• What will happen to me when I make the change?

• Where, when, and how will I know if I’ll be okay?

If you’ve had any of those thoughts, then welcome to a big, whopping dose of change. Change happens all around you, all of the time. You can’t control much of it, and that lack of control is what causes people to fear the unknown. Welcome ambiguity. It’s fuzzy. You might not be able to see clearly, and perhaps you’re afraid or angry because you can’t control the situation.

When we set out to make changes in our lives, there are times when we think that we’d really like to upgrade to that bright yellow bathrobe—but, Oh jeez, what if I get coffee stains on this new one? So instead of trying to get used to the new, we go back to our old coffee-stained and comfortable robe. Instead of trying a green smoothie, we stick to our regular bacon and egg breakfast. It takes a lot of trying on the new over and over before we feel comfortable with the change. Eventually we realize that the coffee has been sitting on the burner for too long, and we finally pitch the old robe and embrace the new one. Remember to keep in mind there are some things that can’t change, and you must learn to accept them as they are. Next time you go into a coffee shop, make sure you’re drinking freshly percolated coffee. That’s what you earned!


Take one thing – a thought, an idea, a value, or a belief – and make that one thing a focus point. Allow yourself ten minutes each day in silence to write, think, or ponder whatever thoughts come up around this one thought or idea. It’s amazing how just one small change can have an everlasting ripple effect leading to bigger changes.

Here are some ideas for small changes that all have big results. Please only choose one item at a time, even if you think you can tackle the whole list at once. When you begin, accept and acknowledge that not every day will be successful. Instead, start each day with the intention of making the change. Embrace the choices you make to follow through and forgive the times you fall short. Begin again to make today the best it can be. Change is a series of moments strung together with choices. Each one is valuable and can be made again. What is essential is that you continue to choose wisely as often as you can.

In reality, the list below contains really major changes that most people aren’t able to make all at once. For example, eliminating sugar is major life adjustment. Most people will do better on some days and not so great on others. The intention is to do your best and make gradual changes.

IDEAS: Small Changes that Yield Big Results

  1. Drink more water

  2. Reduce and/or eliminate processed sugar from your diet

  3. Sit in silence for ten minutes a day

  4. Get a journal and write for ten minutes a day

  5. Have a family sit-down dinner once a week at home

  6. Exercise for at least thirty minutes a day

  7. Unplug from electronics on Sundays for one month

  8. Save five dollars per week and don’t touch it for one year

  9. Eat a piece of fresh fruit each day

  10. Tell someone you love them each day

  11. Smile at yourself in the mirror

  12. Read a bookSave $10 per week


My Small Change Plan of Action·

What is your ONE small change?·

How are you going to implement that one small change?·

What big changes do you think this one small change will make?

Direct your thoughts in a positive direction, and keep seeking what is meaningful to you. Make it your intention to take one action daily. Changing new habits will multiply in effects—just like collecting pennies eventually leads to saving dollars. Remember what it felt like to be a child when every penny you placed in your piggy bank filled you with the anticipation of what it could be like when your bank was completely full? Imagine you’re creating your life in the same way—into a real-life piggy bank full of all the wonderful changes you wish to make. Each small change is like those pennies, and every time you take a step in a new direction, you move with courage. Take those steps; grab those imaginary pennies; and replace the old, familiar behaviors with something positive and meaningful.

Be Focused. Be Courageous

Percolate: Let Your Best Self Filter Through

About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is a 20-year veteran of the financial services and regulatory compliance training industry. Now, a recognized leader in personal development, Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Best Ever You Network, a brand with more than one million followers in social media and over two million radio downloads on The Best Ever You Show.

With a mixture of humor and grace, Elizabeth helps people root in gratitude, discover motivation and implement positive, lasting change. An expert in mentoring people to market their strengths and achieve brand excellence, she works with clients worldwide to illuminate their light within, develop their best life and become their Best Ever You with gratitude-based behavior and belief systems.

Elizabeth’s book PERCOLATE – Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Hay House, 2014) has been called “charming” by Publisher’s Weekly, with “an ingenious extended coffee metaphor.” Guarino also ranks consistently as one of the top 40 social CEOs on Twitter and was just named a favorite by Oxford Said Business School. Her hashtags #BestEverYou and #TipstoBeYourBest are widely circulated.

Elizabeth lives her daily life with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. In 1998, Elizabeth nearly lost her life due to an allergic reaction to almonds. In 1999, she had a second near-fatal allergic reaction while pregnant with her third son. She co-founded the Food Allergy Zone to find a cure and the cause of food allergies. Elizabeth is a spokesperson for FAACT and MedicAlert Foundation.

Elizabeth attended the University of Iowa and is an honors graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Elizabeth and her husband Peter R. Guarino, Esq,. live in Maine with their four sons. Elizabeth currently attends Harvard Business School for Leadership.


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