Little changes, Big Results: How minor changes today can have a major impact over time

by Don Smith

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Reaching the summit through personal development

Think back to an amazing performance you've seen recently.  Did it ever cross your mind to ask the question how did this person get where they are when not that long ago mom and dad were changing his or her diapers?  How did they do that?

This is the question that I ask myself on a regular basis.  How did they do that?  About 10 years ago, I heard a professional speaker deliver an amazing speech, and thought to myself I'd love to be able to do that!  I talked to the speaker after his speech and asked him how he did it.  He told me about Toastmasters.  5 Years later, I finally mustered up the courage to join, and I now know how he did it, with practice and consistent feedback!

Do you believe that Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James came out of the womb dunking basketballs?  No!  While they did have some God-given talents, where they took it relied on their own hard work.  They came out of the womb unable to walk just like the rest of us.  They started playing basketball, missed the entire hoop at first, then played more basketball.  Then they refined their skills through great coaches and played more basketball.  That's what it takes to get good, you have to take steps in the right direction each and every day.  Don't be afraid to fail!  Michael Jordan said it well, “I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

“I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

So how do you get started with a habit change?  The first thing you want to do is to identify what it is you want to accomplish, and why you want to accomplish it.  The why is more important than what, because it is the why that will keep you going.  Next, you need to take a small step in that direction.  Make one small change, and only one.  This allows you to focus on your new habit, and make it into a habit.

Once your habit is established, then you can build another one.  These layer on top of each other, and function much like compounding interest, illustration on that below.

compound interest

Small changes started early on lead to huge growth!  Most growth, in the beginning, is barely perceptible. Momentum builds up little by little, and then the habits allow the growth to take off and it develops a life of its own. This is where the “overnight” successes come from, by the time the public has recognized their efforts, they have taken so many little steps and have built up so much momentum that they are unstoppable.

So how do I recommend making these changes?  First of all, Keep it Simple Stupid!!!  Habit change is not that complicated, but it can be difficult if you do not follow the proper method.

Here is what I've found to work for me.

1.  Write it Down

Dream up what you want to do.  Ask yourself why do you want to do it?  Write those two answers down.

2.  Break it Down

Break down your long term dreams down into phases.  What do you think you need to do in order to achieve these?  What habits do you need to create?

3.  Take Action

Any plan is just a plan without action.  Figure out one small thing that you can change today that will be a baby step towards what you want to accomplish.  DO NOT go overboard on this!  Focus on doing something so minor it hardly seems worth your time.  This is your 1% step, take 10 minutes every single day, put it on your calendar, and do it.  Try to identify a trigger for this with one of your established habits like I'll do this right after I eat breakfast every morning, that will make it easier to integrate into your routine.

Do not move on until this is something you do without thinking about it!  Once you have established the habit, then you can add another step.  I suggest putting a reminder on your calendar at the beginning of each week to see if you can add in another step, it's too easy to get distracted with life otherwise.  Keep walking in the right direction long enough, take baby steps, make enough little changes, and before you know it you will be at your destination!

I hope you've enjoyed this article!  If you want more like this don't forget to join our community by clicking one of the follow icons or signing up for our newsletter using the forms on this page!

For a deep dive on how the brain develops and how to maximize your time while developing new talents, I highly recommend reading the book The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. – Daniel Coyle.  This one was a game changer for me, it really reinforced how the brain actually rewires itself when practicing in a very focused manner with lots of feedback.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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