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Sites working to inspire real life change

(ARA) - No matter how happy you are in life, you can probably think of at least one thing you would like to change. Perhaps it's your family's carbon footprint...

(ARA) - No matter how happy you are in life, you can probably think of at least one thing you would like to change. Perhaps it's your family's carbon footprint or how much time you spend with your kids. Maybe you would like to change your personal spending habits or aspects of how the company you work for operates.

As Americans, we recognize the value of change; just look at the number of self-help books and websites that garner millions of devotees every year. But whether your goal is personal or a desire to change something in society, you have to begin somewhere - otherwise you may never begin at all.

It can feel daunting, even paralyzing, to tackle a major project. But the best place to start is at the beginning, and often that means making small changes. Mohandas Gandhi once said: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

That philosophy is the driving force behind initiatives like A&E's "Real Life Change." Sponsored by freecreditscore.com, RealLifeChange.com is an online community where people share their inspiration and what they are doing to make changes in their own lives and the world around them. Participants commit to make a change, and A&E makes a $1 donation to the person's charity of choice.

Here are some of the top changes website users are making:

Building better spending habits - Do you tend to overspend because you must have the latest gadget? Perhaps you have trouble controlling how many clothes you buy. Improving your spending habits can start with a commitment to yourself to get impulse spending under control. If you've tried and failed before, you can find plenty of information online about taking control of your finances.

Improving your personal health - Losing weight is a common goal, but don't forget there's much more to good health than weight. Being active, getting good rest, managing stress and avoiding risky behaviors like smoking or substance abuse are all important components of good health. To improve your personal health, start with small, manageable goals like resolving to switch from regular soda to diet soda or replacing diet soda with water.

Improving your family's health - While you're on a personal quest for better health, it's a great time to bring your family along too. Look for simple changes your family can make that will help improve their overall health, like incorporating fresh vegetables into every meal and spending one day every weekend on an outdoor family activity.

Building better relationships - Whether it's being more cooperative with co-workers or more patient with our children, almost all of us can think of times when we wish we'd acted differently. Small changes can have a big impact on our interpersonal relationships. For example, simply vowing to listen - really listen - to what others say can provide great insight into what others are thinking and feeling.

Continuing your education - Maybe getting a higher degree will advance your career opportunities, or perhaps you want the sense of personal accomplishment that a degree can bring. For whatever reason you choose to do it, going to school - or going back to school if you left a degree unfinished - can have significant positive influence on your life.

And if you need any more inspiration to begin today, consider this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "The best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing."

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