Everyone wants to achieve success as quickly and effortlessly as possible. A classic strategy for winning involves closing our eyes and swinging for the fence –– a plan that repeatedly yields more strikeouts than home runs. (But that doesn’t stop us from trying.) We rationalize this approach by convincing ourselves that baby steps take too long to accomplish anything meaningful. The fact is, while hitting singles isn’t as glamorous as a home run, there’s great truth in Aesop’s saying that slow and steady wins the race.
Small Steps Make a Big Difference
Most of us like to see progress right away. So, when we take baby steps, and can’t detect advancement, we abandon our efforts thinking that we’ve failed. The truth is, measuring progress is often like watching grass grow. While it’s difficult to detect movement on a daily basis, it’s simple to see growth over time. Here are nine guidelines to keep the grass green on your side of the fence:
Multiply your success –– or failure The law of compounding can turn a small sum into a fortune. Albert Einstein said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
Get better everyday School shouldn’t be the end of the learning process. Personal excellence requires a strong desire and disciplined learning on a continual basis. One day someone may ask how you became such an expert in an area? You’ll probably say that you acquired the knowledge and experience little by little over the years
Nag Nag Nag You never know when you’re teaching your kids a life lesson. It could be a comment during a ball game or the way that you personally reacted to a situation. The best way to instill proper values is to promote them, on a continual basis, and reinforce your words with your actions.
Create good habits One way to correct a bad habit is to take small steps rather than a bold move. Small steps are realistic and require less willpower. Short-term wins will motivate you continue on your journey.
Get a lifestyle Some people want good health as long as it doesn’t require them to abandon bad habits. Instead, they resort to quick-fix remedies that require minimal personal sacrifice. The truth is, you can’t live an unhealthy lifestyle and expect a healthy outcome.
Address larger than life problems Do you get overwhelmed by large challenges? If that sounds familiar, break big problems into small manageable pieces. Each piece may seem small, but their combination will yield big results.
Make downtime, uptime How often do you find yourself waiting fifteen minutes for others? Most people believe nothing meaningful can be accomplished during that time. The fact is, you can be very productive by completing small, related tasks that when combined complete a large undertaking.
Waste not, want not Some people think that cutting small items in a budget aren’t worthy of their effort. The truth is, many small cuts can make a huge difference. Remember, low hanging fruit is easy pickings.
Win back trust If you think Humpty Dumpty was hard to put back together, try trust, respect or one’s reputation. Some people think honor can be repaired overnight. The fact is, trying to swing for the fence may only compound the problem. The best way to repair an indiscretion is to be deliberate, consistent, and most of all worthy.
Small is the New Big
Small steps today, yield great rewards tomorrow. These are seven principles to guide you through the process.
Make the long-term investment Every major undertaking requires desire, sacrifice, patience, and determination. Remember, it takes many years to become an overnight success.
Win in the short and long-term It’s important to set ambitious, yet realistic, short-term goals as you pursue your long-term interests. Remember, small wins provide momentum while long-term goals enable you to win big.
Establish a clear goal Before beginning any task, ask yourself, “Is this activity instrumental to achieving my goal?” That’s because random activities can be wasteful or even work at cross-purposes with each other. Remember, when tasks work in concert progress is compounded.
Walk before you run If you don’t make the investment, don’t expect the rewards. People will place their trust in you only after testing your motives; People rise to the top of an organization only after proving themselves at the bottom.
Just say no The goal shouldn’t always be adding, but also subtracting from daily tasks. While any single request may seem reasonable, added together they’ll divert your attention from your priorities.
Measure activity rather than progress Sometimes it’s difficult, if not impossible, to detect progress. So, have faith that positive activity leads to positive results. Remember, faith will inspire you to do what’s right rather than demanding visible progress.
Think small Fight the urge to overthink everything. Get started. Don’t try to get it perfect. It’s more important to get a few words down on paper and clean the draft up afterwards.
Success is One Small Step Away
Did you ever hear a doctor say an illness is a result of years of personal neglect? What he or she is saying is that the sum of our choices and actions yesterday came home to roost today. It only stands to reason that the same prescription applies to other areas of our life. Every small thing that we do today is an investment in our future. The investment may not pay off for years. But if you don’t begin today, you may live to regret it tomorrow.
As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest that you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” The fact is success is a game of inches. When you do something well day in and day out, the cumulative impact is huge. So, dream big, but think one small step at a time.