The Coronavirus has disrupted our lives and nothing would ever remain the same again. One of the unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is the lockdown giving us the opportunity to spend time with ourselves, self-reflect and forced reset of our lives. The lockdown has been one of the most transformative period of my entire life. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions, grief, anxiety, loss, relationship recalibration, self-assessment and constant improvement.
it’s been extremely tough to deal with the challenges and also exciting to have more time to self-reflect as a result of the downtime. During this challenging times, it was also an opportunity to form new habits, regimen, and routines. One of the surefire way of achieving any goal and avoiding overwhelm is to take it one step at a time. As Greek Philosopher Aristotle once quipped “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Gaining momentum through daily small wins is the key to achieving any worthwhile goal.
My favourite nursery rhyme is: “Good better best, never let it rest until good is better and better is best.” Most of us relent from pursuing our goals because of overwhelm and lack of conviction. We are overwhelmed by the one hour gym sessions, 26 mile marathon, the 500 pages book, the 40 module course, the 30 minutes meditation etc. The key to getting things done is to create a routine around your goals, show up day in and day out, and consistently execute on your strategy for achieving your goals.
Instead of a one hour gym session, try doing 10 minutes stretch daily, 30 minutes run daily, one chapter or 5 pages a day, one module per day, 10 minutes meditation daily. By breaking your goals into manageable chunks, you begin to feel great about yourself as you move closer daily to achieving your goals. As Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca put it: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” Momentum is the key, small wins daily gives you the needed momentum to execute on your goals.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo.
In their 2011, Harvard Business Review article: The Power of Small, HBS Professor Teresa M. Amabile and independent researcher, Steven J. Kramer found through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, that nothing contributed more to a positive inner work life (the mix of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that is critical to performance) than making progress in meaningful work.
They called this phenomenon, the progress principle. They observed that: The more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.
The authors found that the most common event triggering a “best day” was any progress in the work by the individual or the team. The most common event triggering a “worst day” was a setback.
If a person is motivated and happy at the end of the workday, it’s a good bet that he or she made some progress. If the person drags out of the office disengaged and joyless, a setback is most likely to blame.
Even small wins can boost inner work life tremendously. On the flip side, small losses or setbacks can have an extremely negative effect. And the work doesn’t need to involve curing cancer in order to be meaningful. It simply must matter to the person doing it.
The more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.
As American author, Earl Nightingale often said “Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal.” We get rewarded in public for what we repeatedly practiced in the dark. Success in any endeavour takes time, consistency is the key and the more small wins/progress, you make on a daily basis, it compounds in your quest to achieve your goals.
Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE
In his book, The Compound Effect, author and former publisher of Success Magazine Darren Hardy writes about the compound effect; which is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. He writes:
With enough practice and repetition, any behavior, good or bad, becomes automatic over time. That means that even though we developed most of our habits unconsciously (by modeling our parents, responding to environmental or cultural associations, or creating coping mechanisms), we can consciously decide to change them. It stands to reason that since you learned every habit you have, you can also unlearn the ones that aren’t serving you well.
Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of everything we feel, think, do, and achieve is a result of a learned habit!
Since your outcomes are all a result of your moment-to-moment choices, you have incredible power to change your life by changing those choices. Step by step, day by day, your choices will shape your actions until they become habits, where practice makes them permanent.
small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.
I use the power of small wins to execute on my goals such as the 100 Books Reading Challenge, 365 podcast listening challenge, 50 Magazine Reading Challenge, 100 Report Reading Challenge, 50 Biography Reading Challenge among others. I show up to execute on these goals daily by Starting with Why, taking it one brick at a time and executing daily. As former U.S Army general George S. Patton once said “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Success is a result of small wins and right choices executed daily while failure is a result of repeatedly making bad choice and not executing.
Author James Clear describes the power of small wins in his best-selling book, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. He noted:
Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement. At first, these tiny routines seem insignificant, but soon they build on each other and fuel bigger wins that multiply to a degree that far outweighs the cost of their initial investment.
The aggregation of marginal gains – 1% Improvement
Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.
If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.
Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.
Anything worthwhile takes time, dedication, consistency and perseverance. Success is a result of small daily wins which compounds over the long run. With time the chapters becomes a book, the multiple blog posts turns to a book deal, the daily run becomes you finishing a 4 hours marathon, a chapter a day and you finish the 500-pages book. You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. You just have to keep showing up daily.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.