Like everyone else, I’ve also been trying to change my habits for years, and have often failed.
I tried to change my diet and start eating clean from day one, I wanted to be able to write every day, to go to the gym 5 times a week, learn a foreign language in a short time, and so on.
And none of these attempts were successful.
Soon I realized where my mistake was – I always tried to make big changes.
And every time I had to put too much effort and use all my willpower.
So a few days after I thought I’d implemented the new behavior, or a week or two in the best case, I was back to my usual daily round.
And, of course, felt even more discouraged and disappointed in myself after that.
I started thinking about that, analyzing my mistakes and following other people who have succeeded in changing their habits.
It all came down to one thing – starting small – and it was more important than I could imagine.
The Benefits of Starting Small
- it’s easier to do it this way as the beginning is usually the hardest part;
- you use just a tiny amount of your motivation and willpower;
- change doesn’t feel that drastic;
- you see progress sooner as the first step is ridiculously easy;
- you feel more motivated to keep going once you start;
- you make it impossible to say ‘no’ to the daily action that needs to be taken;
- you show yourself that you can do it;
- you’re more likely to succeed;
- after that the next step doesn’t seem that scary;
and so on.
How to start small?
Simply make it so easy that you won’t be able to say no.
Want to start eating healthier? Do it by adding just one fruit or vegetable in your menu.
Or getting up early? Set an alarm for 2 minutes earlier each day. This way in a month you’ll be getting an hour earlier without even realizing it.
Want to start blogging? Then post one or two paragraphs each week.
Want to start meditating? Begin with just a few minutes each day.
Or running? Start by just going out for a walk, then run for 5 minutes.
What about quitting smoking? Let’s smoke 1 cigarette less a day.
Or letting go of negative thinking? Start by substituting one negative thought a day with a positive one.
That’s how we form habits.
No one said it should be difficult, with a lot of effort and sweat.
Yes, it will take time and persistence, but it can be easy and simple at the same time.
Just doing the habit is what you need so that you brain can make it a routine.
It doesn’t matter if you do it right, or if it’s just for a minute, or if it has any result. Just do it today, then tomorrow, then the day after.
When starting is no longer a problem, you can move on to improving your performance and make it more challenging.
Our main problem is that we aim too high when we have a new behavior to adopt.
We start big, want to be perfect, to see results fast and have big expectations. Also, we live in a society where things change quickly, and no one asks whether you find a hard time adapting.
But if you let go of these ideals that you have in your mind of how fast success should come, you will be able to focus on making just one small step each day that will take you to the biggest transformation in your life.
Here is one inspiring example of how many great things start small:
“The other day I was listening to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and I found it amazing how this book, which has now sold over 15 million copies, originally started:
I prepared a short talk. I called it ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ I say ‘short.’ It was short in the beginning, but it soon expanded to a lecture that consumed one hour and thirty minutes.
After giving this talk for some time, Carnegie found that the attendees started discussing their experiences and some “rules” emerged.
Here’s how the now famous book became a reality:
We started with a set of rules printed on a card no larger than a postcard. The next season we printed a larger card, then a leaflet, then a series of booklets, each one expanding in size and scope. After fifteen years of experimentation and research came this book.
I found that absolutely fascinating – the book came out of a short talk and a few notes on a postcard-sized piece of card. Interestingly, I think a lot of the really big successes start like this.”
So what do you think about that? Is starting small that important? And has it worked for you?