Change Happens One Step at a Time

Change Happens One Step at a Time

Remember the movie Groundhog Day? In it, Bill Murray plays Phil, a weatherman who gets stuck reliving the same miserable day of his life, over and over. The movie is on people's minds again this month after Jeep aired a Super Bowl commercial with a modern twist on the story: Phil "borrows" a new 2020 Jeep and takes it on a series of extreme outdoor adventures, to help him break out of his repetitive rut.

The commercial is a fun distraction, but it also reminds me that the original movie has a lot of heart behind the humor—and a lesson that's worth remembering.

Sure, Phil spends the first half of the movie taking crazy risks every day because he feels trapped by his routine: he figures since nothing he does matters, why not do whatever he wants? It's a narcissistic worldview, because his character is only capable of thinking about himself. It's only when he starts caring about the people around him, and spending each day trying to make their lives better, that he finally earns his way out of being trapped in a karmic loop.

As parents, we see the results of the choices our kids make every day. We can also look ahead and see where their choices are leading them. If your child is stuck in a rut, how can you encourage them to expand their comfort zone? If your child isn't taking other people's feelings or needs into account, how can you nudge them toward becoming more aware and empathetic toward others? The big lesson from Groundhog Day is that incremental improvements really do add up. Even making one small change each day can have a big payoff weeks or months from now. So if you do want to help adjust the path your child is on, the good news is that you don't have to fix everything all at once; you just need to help them start moving in a better direction, one day at a time.