Photo Credit: Jewish Press

If you are thinking about making a change, but are struggling with the idea, take the following quiz to help you see what kind of changemaker you are!

  1. How does change make you feel?

(a) Paralyzed and fearful.
(b) Hesitant, but excited for the future.
(c) Hopeful and encouraged.

  1. When you find out bad news, what do you do?

(a) Eat lots of junk food to make yourself feel better.
(b) Speak to a friend.
(c) Try to find the positive in the situation.

  1. What happens when you think of all the changes you would like to make in your life?

(a) You think about all the times you tried and failed to change.
(b) You focus on something, but never seem to get very far.
(c) You picture exactly what you would like to happen, figure out an action plan, and start the ball rolling.

  1. When you decide to make a major change, such as switching careers or ending a friendship, what is the first thing you do?

(a) List all the reasons why you’ll probably fail.
(b) Feel overwhelmed, but look for books and websites that might help.
(c) Talk to other people who have gone through the same thing.

  1. What would your friends say about you and change?

(a) You avoid change at all costs.
(b) You try to accept change as it comes, but generally don’t seek it out.
(c) You can handle any change that comes your way and are not afraid to initiate changes in your life.

  1. What do you do when you feel paralyzed and uncertain during a time of change?

(a) Sleep. A lot.
(b) Do some exercise, it gets you moving.
(c) Write a to-do list or listen to motivating music.


Mostly As Mostly Bs Mostly Cs
You do not like change. You might even say that you hate it. This is quite common – as many people find change difficult and disorienting. Read the rest of the article to find small ways that you can make changes without feeling stuck and paralyzed. You aren’t opposed to change, but you aren’t exactly charmed by it either. When change comes up, even though you would like to hide from it, you understand that there are people and resources that can help you adapt and savor the journey. You love change! You don’t shy away from it, instead you embrace it! You are lucky that your response to change is so positive, because when life throws you a lemon, you proceed to make lemonade.


Do you ever feel stuck? Unable to change even if you desperately want to? Change is definitely hard, but there are a few tips that can help you make big changes, even with small steps. In his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt explains that our brains are split into two: an emotional side and a rational side. Haidt compares these two sides to an elephant and a rider. Our rational side, or rider, knows that we want to stop eating because we are full or get up early in order to be prepared for the day. On the other hand, our emotional side, or elephant, likes the way the food makes us feel and wants to stay cuddled under warm covers on a dark morning. There is also an upside to the elephant, as the emotional seat of the brain it also houses love, compassion, and loyalty. The elephant is the part of your brain that instinctually protects your kids and helps you stand up for yourself. Conversely, there is a downside to the rider. The rider over-analyzes everything and “spins his wheels” refusing to make a decision until all elements are weighed.

The metaphor continues: the rider holds the reins and directs the elephant where to go. But, this doesn’t always go smoothly because the elephant is so large and powerful and the rider so small in comparison.

In order to affect change, you need both the elephant and the rider to work together. You need planning and direction (the rider) and energy and passion (the elephant). Often, when change efforts fail on the individual level, it is the elephant’s fault, which chooses short-term gratification over long-term gains.

In their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath give a three-step framework that they believe can help everyone, from individuals to organizations, more easily affect change.

Direct the rider. Give crystal clear instructions for the rational side. Lay out the exact directions without any vague directives.

Motivate the elephant. Engage the emotional side. Don’t just show charts and spreadsheets. Get visual and tactile.

Shape the path. The problem that needs changing is not necessarily a people problem, it might be a situational problem. Shape the situation, or the path, so that the rider and elephant can have an easier time traveling it.


Small Steps

Here is one hands-on practical tool that the authors suggest, “One way to shrink change, then, is to limit the investment you’re asking for – only 5 minutes of housecleaning, only one small debt. Another way to shrink change is to think of small wins – milestones that are within reach… when milestones seem too distant, they should look for ‘inch pebbles.’”

That means that if you want to lose weight but the thought of an hour-long exercise class is just too daunting, commit to a five-minute walk in the morning. Then, commit to a five-minute walk every morning for a week. Bump that up to ten minutes, then to twenty, and soon you will be well on your way to weight loss.

In the same vein, if you think about milestones, if you have a ton of company coming for Shabbat and you don’t know where to begin to cook and bake, just decide that on Wednesday night you are going to make the desserts. Once you check that milestone off of your list, you can move on to side dishes or vegetables. Each milestone will give you the needed feedback that you can move forward.

The same goes for large organizations. If the company wants to affect change, it needs to give a few small instructions that require a very small amount of time. Slowly, those can add up and create maximum change. NFL coach Bill Parcells in Harvard Business Review wrote, “When you set small, visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed.”

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward. The Heaths explain, “The elephant has no trouble conquering these micro-milestones, and as it does, something else happens. With each step, the elephant feels less scared and less reluctant, because things are working. With each step, the elephant starts feeling the change. A journey that started with dread is evolving, slowly, toward a feeling of confidence and pride. And at the same time the change is shrinking, the elephant is growing.”

And with the elephant’s growth, your capacity to grow and change balloons! So, get out there and make those very small changes. They just might add up to something big.


Previous articleBREXIT, the CoronaVirus & Elections! How it All Affects Us. – The Tamar Yonah Show [audio]
Next articleThe False Accusation
An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at