Most of the things we pursue don’t require brilliance or talent. Most of them just require consistency and small changes.
We make a mountain out of a molehill and create these massive hurdles that don’t even exist. No task is unattainable if we break it into smaller parts.
Want to do a 4 minute plank? Increase your plank hold by one second every day.
100 push-ups? Increase it by 1 every other day.
Want to run a marathon? Start by running around the block
Reduce carbohydrate intake? Eliminate one thing that you eat regularly with a high carbohydrate intake
Become a stand-up comedian? Start by writing one joke everyday.
This is also known as the Goldilocks rule
“The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right”
James Clear has a pretty phenomenal post on the Goldilocks. He does such a good job that I am not even going to try. You might as well read his post.
Small Changes Lead To Big Outcomes.
Darius Foroux lists this as one of the lessons he learned in his 20s.
Here are some of the small changes I implemented this year that helped me achieve more than 50 percent of my goals this year.
Do not disturb
This is my default setting early morning and then at night. Helps me focus as I don’t get distracted from my phone pinging every few minutes.
Outcome: More focus and less distraction. I did not lose my train of thought when working on something important
Tracking the days I go to the gym
I just wanted to hit the gym 200 times in 2018. That is all. And I used a desk calendar to mark the days I went with an ‘x’
Outcome: I worked out 204 times and I have never been fitter. I even got rid of the knee pain that was troubling me at the start of the year!
Timer to work in short bursts
Our brains are not designed to have long attention spans. In fact, our quality of work deteriorates as we work longer hours. I used egg.timer to work in 45 minute slots with 5–15 minute breaks after each session.
Outcome: I got more done. This is one of the main reasons for my productivity increase.
Waking up early morning
I got this from my dad. I like the quiet and peaceful nature of mornings. It helps me prepare for the insanity that will unfold during the day.
Outcome: Forced me to eat early so I can go to bed early. Also enables me to keep in touch with my family in the US since there is a 12 hour time difference.
Reading every day for 30 minutes
First thing in the morning or last thing at night. Put it on your calendar.
Outcome: A diary full of ideas!
Removing all the junk food from around me
Eliminated the root of unhealthy eating so that I don’t leave myself with a choice.
Outcome: Better health. More energy throughout the day. My last physical exam results told me that it paid off!
I wrote a whole post on this. I started with listing out 3 things that I am thankful for every morning and soon found that I was writing about 5. And boy are there things to be thankful for.
Outcome: The more I was thankful for, the more I found things that I needed to be thankful about. The more I looked around, the easier it became to spot things to be thankful for. Result: A positive version of me.
I started with 3 minutes and gradually reached upto 7 and now I am back to 4 minutes.
Outcome: This helped in two ways: First, it calmed me down and second, it cleared my thought process.
Never do list
I am big on lists and I decided for once to draw a line on what I would never say yes to! The entire activity took probably 30 minutes but it was very freeing. I suddenly felt like I gave myself permission to say no. Just by putting things on this list and that was powerful!
Outcome: My never do list has allowed me to take away what doesn’t matter and in the process helped give me clarity over what does. This list prevents me from making promises that I cannot keep.
Doing things that make me happy
I credit this to Jon Butcher. At the beginning of 2018, I had taken a midvalley course by Jon and according to him, this is the easiest way to be happier. I tried it and guess what, it actually worked!
Outcome: I am usually always laughing or in a happy mood. I am more satisfied in life than I used to be. Knowing what makes me happy has made it easier for me to pull myself up when I am running low on optimism.
What Is The Point Of All This?
A lot of us just give up thinking about the sheer size of the task. A journey of thousand steps, begins with one step. Almost every expert that you come across today, was once an amateur putting in place these small changes that led them to ultimately become an expert.
The point is to show you that small deeds done consistently can lead to big results
Steve Martin was practicing comedy for over 20 years before he started selling out stadiums.
Kobe Bryant is known for his legendary work ethic.
Jerry Rice was known for his six days a week off-season workouts.