Give Now

Small Tweaks, Big Changes

By: Cody Howen

7 minutes...14 minutes…21 minutes…suddenly 28 to 42 minutes later, I jolt up out of bed. No matter how good my intentions were to wake up early, the snooze button had a grip on me! Snooze and I had a relationship founded upon the mutual disapproval of another—the alarm clock. While I knew our relationship was unhealthy, the snooze button had grown to be a consistent friend who showed up every morning to help me stay in my cozy bed for just a little bit longer.

I recognized that something had to change because I wanted more out of my mornings—quiet time for myself and a space for self and spiritual development. My desire for a change led me to research on sleep patterns, the power of habit, why and how people wake up earlier. I sought wisdom from peers, online articles and mentors. I knew a solution was out there for me.

“There has got to be an app for this,” my 24-year-old mind took me to the App Store on my phone. I found a new alarm application called Kiwake that guides you through a complete wake-up process. This process physically gets you out of your bed, stimulates your mind, and helps you start your day inspired. While I initially hated this new app with a passion, I could not believe how my new morning routine was transforming my day. Snooze was losing its grip on me.

Since finding “an app for that,” I now have five more hours a week that I can deliberately dedicate to myself. Most mornings that means reading a daily devotional and chipping away at a good book. Some mornings it means going to the gym or stretching. This extra hour in my mornings has become a sacred time that I truly believe makes me a better person. My new mornings have had an immediate impact on my day-to-day routine and I am excited to see these benefits develop over time, especially as I participate in work larger than myself both in and outside of the Santa Barbara Foundation. In doing good work and in doing it strategically, I think we are able to identify the little things that we can continue improving. For example, I know that I can improve my work at the Santa Barbara Foundation by making an effort to continually volunteer and better understand the people we serve in our community. In doing little things like that, I believe that I am not only on the path to becoming a better version of myself, but I am also playing a small part in improving society at large.

Regardless of your level of influence, expertise or even brokenness—I think we all have something in our lives that we can identify and take small steps towards improving. Join me and reflect on a small victory in your own life (like overcoming the snooze button) and celebrate it! I also encourage you to continue to join me as I evaluate what the next little change will be in my life, whether personally or professionally. I leave you (and myself) with this: What little actions can we take to create big and meaningful change in our own lives and the lives of others?

Cody Howen is a donor services associate for the Santa Barbara Foundation.

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