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    The small things that make a big difference


    Often the conversations I have with clients end up being about the more minute details of life and occasionally someone will say, “I can’t believe we’re talking about this!”. They expect the real issues to be much bigger.

    I have come to learn that it’s often the small adjustments we make in our lives that have the most significant impact.

    A step outside your comfort zone can alter the way you perceive yourself. A subtle shift in thinking can fundamentally change what you believe you’re capable of. A small behavioural change can have a ripple effect right across your life. Even a small adjustment in the way you engage can alter a relationship dynamic entirely.

    I’ve seen examples of this in my own life this year. It began when I wrote down my 100 things.

    Despite not considering myself particularly adventurous, I had added a couple of items to my list that would push me slightly out of my comfort zone.

    One of them was to kayak at dawn.

    So while visiting the Northern Rivers last week to run a workshop and stumbling across Ballina Kayaks, I decided to give them a call.

    I was realistic enough to know that the dawn thing was a bit of a stretch but I figured the advertised 8am start time would do. I spoke to Scott, the kayaking guide and owner of the business. After chatting about a few different options, he asked me if I was an early riser. “I don’t suppose you’d be open to going at dawn?” he asked.

    I couldn’t believe my luck.

    I’ve never kayaked on my own before so the idea of paddling for two hours under my own steam made me slightly nervous, particularly given my average level of fitness these days. But Scott was reassuring. With the right technique, he promised I would be ok.

    Those two hours ended up being almost three and every part of the morning surpassed my expectations.


    We set out before the sun was over the horizon. The river was glassy calm with just the vaguest hint of pink in the sky. As we paddled towards the east, the colour on the water was a blend of gold and crimson. Even Scott, who does this sort of thing often, was completely in awe. It was so good to share the experience with someone who values the beauty of nature as much as I do.

    As well as an abundance of birdlife and birdsong around us, a turtle bobbed its head up beside my kayak. So close I could have touched it. Every aspect of the morning felt like a dream.

    We paddled down river against the tide and Scott shared stories about trips he’s taken around Australia that have culminated in him writing a series of guide books. He told me about kayaking and camping on the Gordon River and about paddling through Freycinet and Lake St Clair, places that weren’t on my list but will be now. As I listened, I realised that none of these things is outside my reach.


    We sat on the riverbank drinking tea out of camping mugs and a young family came down for an early morning swim. I thought about the times I’ve wanted to do things like swimming before breakfast and didn’t make the effort for whatever reason.

    I know that making things happen in life is often much simpler than we make it. It usually just begins with one step.

    I hope I can keep remembering that.

    And what about you? What would you change if you pushed beyond the limits you’ve set for yourself?

    Posted in: Life
    Kate James

    About the author

    Kate James is an author, coach and mindfulness teacher. She works with female leaders and business owners to help them clarify their values and strengths and discover a mindset that allows them to live confident, purposeful lives.