You Are Underestimating the Power of Small Steps

A lot of times we believe that to make big changes in our lives or big impacts on the world we have to take big steps.  Very rarely is this actually the case. One problem with trying to take big steps is that it often leaves you feeling overwhelmed and uninspired to move forward.

I’m one of those people who likes to set goals and then constantly whip themselves for not doing anything towards them until I finally decide the pain of quitting is less than the pain of my self flagellation. The process would look something like this:

  1. Set huge goal
  2. Write list of large activities needed to get there
  3. Try to do these for 1 week
  4. Spend 3 weeks beating myself up about not doing them
  5. Set new goal and repeat

There’s obviously a better way.

Tony Robbins likes to say that “most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade.”  Persistence often wins the game and is one of the key traits of great entrepreneurs.

1% Better

I like the idea of the 1% Rule.  This means that you should strive to get 1% better each day.  By aiming for 1% you’re acknowledging that you just need a small activity each day to get the snowball rolling.

Let’s not forget the idea of compounding returns.  If you get 1% better each day, then in 365 days you’ve become 3,700% better.  Can you get 1% better each day?  It’s hard to measure, but by taking tiny steps, you’ll create a habit which has a snowball effect and that’s actually the point.

Focusing on small steps does a few things:

  • It changes your mindset from “achieving” to getting better
  • It gives you the ability to accomplish something everyday
  • It keeps you motivated
  • It makes the goal seem achievable
  • Since it’s not a big bang, there’s no need to wait until January 1 to get started

Its amazing when you start to take this into practice because you begin to feel like those far away goals get closer and closer.  I use this approach in my own life and have started to see good results from simply focusing on taking small steps to get 1% better each day. Below are some ideas:

Generate Ideas

It would be great to earn more money or improve my life in other ways, but I haven’t felt like I’ve had good ideas.  By that I mean they haven’t magically dropped out of the sky into my lap without any effort on my part.

I know that positive actions bring positive results so I decided to start writing 10 ideas every day.  These aren’t necessarily business ideas.  They can be ideas about how to improve relationships, how to keep the house clean etc.  The point is that I’m exercising my brain and being active by generating ideas.

Between you and me, most of the ideas are rubbish. But every once in a while there’s a gem. This blog post was a result of one of those lists. It takes me 10-15 minutes in the morning and puts me into a creative frame of mind for the rest of the day. I feel that I am actually exercising my brain in a way that makes me more creative.

Enjoy Life

I tend to focus on what’s next.  It’s actually pretty difficult for me to focus on or enjoy whatever is happening right now and science shows this is actually bad for you.

I decided to try and be more present by choosing one moment each day, stopping whatever I am doing and remember the details of that moment.

This only takes a few seconds but the affects are amazing.  I’ve found myself becoming more grateful not only for that moment, but for my life in general. The great thing is that I’ve gone from one moment, to several moments throughout the day.

A Stronger Network

I’m bad about not reaching out to friends or colleagues on a regular basis.  I don’t really nurture my existing network.

I decided to send a message to a new friend / colleague / family member each day. Again, this takes 10 minutes to send an email, but it actually means a lot.  I always get a positive response and it makes me feel great to read about how their lives are going.

So stop beating yourself up about not writing that book last week or not learning the guitar over the weekend.  Take small, consistent steps and try to remember and enjoy the journey!

 

 

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