How to achieve better results with small steps.
How many times have you planned to make a change? You start out with great excitement and enthusiasm. Perhaps joining a gym and committing to a rigorous personal exercise plan? Or, deciding to give up junk food, coffee and alcohol all in one go? Maybe it’s in the workplace? A decision to finish work on time, clear your inbox or make time to commence the course you purchased six months ago? Then, for no apparent reason, the wheels fall off. You either never move beyond the initial idea, you stalled or quit. Finding yourself back to square one yet again.
Yes! I am sure we have all experienced this in our lives. Instead of making it easy on yourself, you set out with big lofty goals instead of starting with small steps. This is somewhat like deciding to tackle Everest as your first attempt at mountain climbing. Probably not a great recipe for success?
I see this happen often and one of the main reasons is that people start with unrealistic goals. Furthermore, they fail to be consistent. Yes, we all know that consistency is key, yet we don’t adhere to this simple piece of wisdom. If this sounds familiar, read on to discover how small steps will help you increase your level of consistency.
How does an ant eat an elephant?
I think we all know the answer to this – one bite at a time, right? This simple saying can apply to any successes you strive for. So, let’s consider this in relation to how we operate in life.
We are hard-wired to be kept safe and comfortable at all costs, which means, change equals danger. Our inner alarm bells ring. To help understand this, let’s consider what happens in an air-conditioned room when you open the door on a hot day. If the temperature in the room is 22 degrees, yet the outside temperature is 32 degrees, at first, the room temperature will become warmer. However, the air-conditioning unit has a specific job to do. To bring the temperature back to its programmed level, right? Furthermore, it works flat out to achieve this.Change gives off danger signals to your inner thermostat Click To Tweet
This is what happens when you decide to change. Even more so when you embark on a program that entails big commitments of time and energy. When you start exercising, say, four days a week from a base of zero, or you cut out all unhealthy food choices in one go, your inner thermostat, which is designed to keep you safe and support the ‘status quo,’ works extra hard to return things to ‘normal’. Incidentally, your current normal is the exact thing you are trying to move away from. However, your inner mechanisms want to maintain the current status quo.
Your subconscious mind still runs programs that may be counterintuitive to your goals
Furthermore, your subconscious mind, the part that runs your life has many programs that no longer support your goals. However, unless it receives super clear instructions it will simply operate from what it already knows. Ignorant of what your goals are. It wants to keep you safe at all cost. Another reason you may not achieve the success you desire. Moreover, exactly why small steps are required to create solid foundations.
Let’s look at an example of training for a 5 km run. If you are starting from scratch, it’s better to start like the ant with the elephant. Start small, yet be consistent. Even if it feels super easy and not very challenging, this is the way to guarantee your success over the long term. Moreover, it’s better to commit to training twice a week and be successful. Otherwise, you might set the bar too high at the beginning and give up after three weeks. You can add in extra sessions if you desire. This means that anything more is a bonus. Furthermore, starting with an easy challenge doesn’t overwhelm your already large to-do list.
Quick wins help you trust yourself. This builds belief and inspires you to keep going. Moreover, when you schedule the sessions in your diary and treat them as you would a business meeting, you increase your chances of success. After a few weeks, with regular small wins, you can increase the intensity and the frequency of your workouts.
Where else can you use this philosophy?
The answer, I believe, is in every goal you want to achieve, be it personal pursuits, business or work projects. You see, I believe we all know what we need to do yet we don’t do it. Every small step you take, every bite you take makes the elephant smaller and the goal seem less difficult. Let’s imagine you want to write a book. First, you want to create a habit of writing regularly each week, whether you feel creative or not. Start with ten minutes four times a week. Once you have done this consistently for a few weeks, increase the duration and intensity.
Keep going and stick with the process long enough until it becomes a normal part of your daily routine. There is no fixed rule as to how long it takes to create a habit, however, recent research suggests anything from 66 to 365 days. This means accomplishing great things takes discipline, commitment, hard work and consistency.
Small steps help move your inner thermostat slowly in the right direction
The end result of taking small steps consistently is that it helps move your inner thermostat. Slowly and surely closing the gap between where you are now and the goal you want to achieve. You close the gap between who you are now and the person you need to become to achieve what you want. Even if the progress feels excruciatingly slow, this is paramount to your success. Furthermore, embrace the journey with an intention of kindness and patience to yourself. If you wobble it’s not really about the fact you messed up, it’s how you respond to it. Gently make a plan to get back on track within 24 hours.
Ultimately, you need to prove to yourself you are reliable and you can do the things you know you should. Consistent actions repeated daily that make up the sum total of your goal. Be sure to celebrate and recognise all your small wins. Moreover, when you acknowledge each small win, your brain sends you a shot of serotonin. This helps you feel more confident, builds self-worth and fuels momentum. Key ingredients for your own Mindset for Success.
Count the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves
I remember as a child being told the above phrase often. Although I don’t think I really understood it as a kid, it gave me an important lesson in relation to money. Similarly, if you focus on adding small steps, the pennies, the pounds or long term results, grow. Now as adults, we understand this as the power of compound interest. Great things happen with a clear goal, commitment and intentional action. If you keep going, however small each step, eventually the results will become apparent.
The amazing results of taking small steps
I have coached many clients to make massive changes in their lives using the small step approach. Furthermore, adding in a clear plan, support, review and accountability are key. A recent example includes a client who was a serial procrastinator. Due to this habit, he dug himself into an unhappy place that held him captive like a prisoner. He was stuck and felt powerless to get out of the hole. After creating a small step plan and a few months of taking tiny actions, he started to see results. Consequently, he felt empowered and could see a clearer path forward. Action and clarity were keys for his continuing.
Eventually, he completed projects around the house that had been on his mind for years. Next, he tackled the outside area, re-paving the pool deck and fixing up a fence. Another client came to see me as he was struggling with his weight and had Diabetes 2. He was disappointed with himself and had an unfulfilled desire to get fit.
A journey of small steps took one client to compete in an Ironman triathlon
However, he couldn’t find the motivation or method to get going. Together we created a plan that included a was to stick to his new behaviours until they became habits. Furthermore, we set some milestones and goals. His continued focus and inspiration from achieving the milestones he set, resulted in completing an Ironman Triathlon. Not only did he achieve this, but he continued to do several more. An astounding and fantastic transformation. Anything is possible when you have the will, the why, the way, a clear plan with small steps, accountability and support. If you would like a visual copy of my habit creation plan, to help you keep on track, click here.Small Steps taken consistently compound to amazing accomplishments Click To Tweet
So, the only question left is to ask yourself what do you want to achieve? What goals have you given up on, stalled or let slip? Reconnect with the goal, break it down and decide on the first few small steps required to get going. Take action and keep going. And if you keep going and stick with it long enough, you may be fortunate to reap the rewards from your efforts.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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