Years ago, a wise rabbi told me:

"Your character flaws are like your car's high beam: They can be quite irritating and will hit the other person squarely in the eye. Conversely, you might very well continue exactly what you're doing, blissfully ignorant to your condition, until someone flicks his headlights to alert you to your problem."

The key to change lies in proactively tackling life's detailsAs we travel our path to self-betterment, we need an occasional wake-up call. The startling flash of recognition can obliterate our mental fog, that mindless living which provides perfect cover for a negative pattern.

But the mental clarity itself isn't change. It's just the beginning.

The key to change lies in proactively tackling life's details, making better choices in our minutes, hours and days.

In other words, we change behaviors by incrementally changing their expressions.

Take an example: You've come to a sudden awareness: Your family feels that you're distracted and distant when you're at home. They're disappointed.

Wow. You had no idea! But – once it's been mentioned – you can see what they're saying.

So you resolve to do better.

If that's as far as it goes, you haven't much chance of real change.

But what if you ask yourself: How am I going to reframe my mindset when I leave work, before I come home? How will I disengage from my mind-static and be emotionally available for my family? By what method will I observe/evaluate myself?

Polishing my life's details, inch by inch, action by action, day by day, adds up to a brilliant existence.

Taking a step back, we can see this in the rhythm of our history. G‑d gave the Jews a cosmic wake-up call when he took them out of Egypt. He showed them that they needed to rise above their slave mentality, their spiritual paralysis.

Once liberated, they began a seven-week journey toward Sinai.

The grunt work will get us where we need to goTorah thought presents an analysis of the human's "life tools" and sees them as falling into seven different categories. So the Jews used each week of their journey to refine a different (primary) dimension of life.

But counting – i.e., exercising – the weeks wasn't enough. They needed to count each individual day.

The path to self-improvement took forty-nine incremental steps.

Similarly, we all need to transcend our personal "Egypts," the counterproductive patterns in our lives.

That's an important realization; but it's not enough.

We need the resolve to tackle our issues; but it's not enough.

It's the grunt work, the day-by-day attention to life's details, which will get us where we need to go.

Day by day, bit by bit, we can make change happen.