Never underestimate the power of small. In the words of Lao Tzu,
“A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.”
At first, one single step, while by itself may seem inconsequential and irrelevant, becomes a mile when performed repeatedly and consistently. It’s the act of repetition, done over and over again, that lays the groundwork for success in any venture you embark upon. Small steps lead to big results. Small steps have huge impact.
Did you set some goals and resolutions at the beginning of the New Year? Have you been successful in staying focused on your path to achieving those goals? Rather than being overwhelmed, be excited for possibilities and future success. Help yourself help yourself. That’s an intended repeat! Help yourself be successful. By breaking the steps to get there into small segments and then repeating them over time, you will be working with your mind and not against it to get to your desired result.
How many times have you wanted to go on a diet and told yourself you will start Monday? How often do you skip your workout because you don’t have an available hour in your already busy and over-scheduled day? How many times do you put off a large task at work until the deadline approaches quicker than you realized? Small steps lead to big results. In these examples, the small acts of not doing, done over and over again, lead to results that make you feel defeated and maybe even hopeless. Often, the intentions we are initially motivated by lose their luster when we start building them up to seem larger than we are capable of doing. It becomes overwhelming and then feels impossible to do, so we don’t even start.
This is where the power of small becomes mighty! Science shows that our brains can only handle 3 to 5 meaningful tasks in our central memory store. Trying to take on a huge task is hard for the brain to wrap itself around. Takeaway: Break things down into small, manageable, do-able steps.
If you want to begin an exercise program, but there is no way you can carve out a dedicated hour, break it into micro or mini workouts. Studies show an hour-long workout doesn’t negate the act of sitting the rest of your day anyway.
We are meant to move throughout our day so incorporating movement throughout your day is more natural to our ancestral history and has countless benefits. Take a 10 minute walk 3x in your day. Do 15 push-ups every hour. Perform 25 air squats (or sit-down-stand ups). Take the stairs. Look for ways to add-in short bursts of movement (or what we used to call play back in the day). Neuroscience now shows us that short-term bursts of exercise literally make you smarter by promoting an increase in synapses in the hippocampus, which also primes your brain for learning. You’ll also have more energy, be more productive and creative in your day. Win-win!!
As you feel better, add-on and do more. Another idea is to have your workout clothes ready the night before and waiting for you as soon as you get up. Not a morning exerciser? Have your exercise clothes arranged and ready for whenever you plan to workout. Help yourself by prepping ahead and making it easier to stick to your workout. Then again, you could just drop to the floor in your pajamas and do some pushups, crunches, squats, jumping jacks. You’ll feel more energized for your day and you are building a base. One step forward is the beginning. Approach it with the idea of fun and play and you will be on your way.
If you want to have a healthier way of eating, add ONE fruit and ONE vegetable to your day. Do it consistently, every day, and you’ll feel super successful. Success breeds more success and pretty soon you’ve carved out a new habit. Prepare your veggies on Sunday so that you can eat them the rest of the week. A little prep time on the weekend reaps big rewards on busy weeknights when the last thing you feel like doing is chopping! When you open that refrigerator and see your prepped fruits and veggies ready and waiting for you, your brain triggers a reward response that 1.) makes you feel successful for having prepared your food and stay on task and 2.) motivates you to continue doing the good behavior.
I decided I wanted to drink more water. I first started with a full glass of water in the morning, and then filled in whenever it worked. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t. I decided to take one small step by filling up a large container I could take with me while driving and training. Guess what? Because I have it there easily accessible, I drink it. Hydration goal?! Check!
Are you working on a large project at work? Perhaps it seems overwhelming. The more you put something off, the bigger it becomes in our mind and the momentum to not do it starts to build. Stop that negative momentum and think about one thing you can do towards the success of that project. One step! That first step gets the momentum going. Doing that first step is an accomplishment and makes us feel good!! The best way to get to where you are going is to feel like you are succeeding and accomplishing something in the desired direction. Remember success breeds success and small steps done repeatedly reap big rewards.
One more example: writing a blog. I have all of these thoughts, ideas and things I research constantly and share with my clients when I see them. Writing it down in a blog seems overwhelming and time-consuming. I decided to follow this advice and break it down to just one small step of sitting down and writing one paragraph. After that, it began to flow. Not without stops and starts, but eventually I got it done. It started with the small step of just starting.
I hope you can take some of these thoughts and apply it to whatever task you are wanting to accomplish. One small step torward where you are aiming sets the trajectory for all the next steps. That’s no small thing! Start small. Repeat consistently, reap huge rewards. Try it and let me know how this approach works for you.
Abundance in all good things!