How Massive Action Can Cause Epic Failure: The Power of Small Actions
Have you ever found yourself dissatisfied with something in your life? Maybe it’s your growing waistline, your cluttered workspace, or your lack of social life. Whatever it is, we all have our own goals in life, and when we start to work towards them, we often resort to making some sort of radical, sweeping change. We might vow to exercise every day and stick to an extreme diet, spend an entire weekend decluttering everything, or attend a social event and make sure we have a conversation with every person there.
But the truth is, these massive actions rarely last. We all have a certain inertia that helped us get to this dissatisfying point in our lives in the first place. A collection of habits and beliefs accumulate and result in that extra weight, the messy house, or the lack of friends. Doing something big and dramatic might make us feel better initially, but it rarely overcomes the inertia.
So, is there an alternative? Yes, there is. The idea is popularly known as Kaizen, a Japanese term that advocates continuous improvement through very small changes. Rather than trying to push against our habits and beliefs with massive actions, we can erode them gently with small actions.
Small actions may also be less intimidating than committing to a huge effort that could leave us feeling less productive. They meet with less internal resistance because they are so easy and painless. Small actions don’t conjure up feelings of dread at the thought of giving up guilty pleasures or condemning ourselves to doing things that make us uncomfortable.
For example, you might start by throwing out one bite of an unhealthy meal before eating it to lose weight. You can take one misplaced object on your desk each day and put it where it belongs. Or, you can make eye contact with one stranger every day. These steps may not seem like they would make much of an impact, but they can start to dissolve the habits and beliefs that got you into trouble in the first place.
You can start practicing better portion control by not eating everything on your plate. You can begin to make organization a habit by doing a small amount of cleaning every day. Or you can get used to interacting with people in a small way to overcome the initial resistance. This way, we can gently change the beliefs and habits that got us into trouble in the first place, leading to a much bigger impact than trying to push against them with massive actions.
I’ve used small actions to help me reach my goals in the past, and what I’ve discovered is that they can erode initial resistance and help change habits and beliefs in a way that massive actions sometimes cannot. If you’ve failed at reaching your goals by taking large actions, only to find procrastination, fear, or self-sabotage creeping in, then maybe it’s time to try small actions instead.
So, what’s one small action you can take today? It could be anything from drinking an extra glass of water, to writing for ten minutes, or doing five minutes of yoga. The key is to start small, and let the positive impact snowball over time. As you accomplish these small actions, you’ll build momentum and gain confidence, making it easier to take on slightly larger actions. Eventually, you’ll find yourself making more significant changes and progressing towards your goals, one small action at a time.
In conclusion, when we become dissatisfied with something in our lives, it’s easy to resort to massive actions to try and force change. However, these actions are often unsustainable, and we can quickly slip back into our old habits and beliefs. Instead, we can use the power of small actions and Kaizen to slowly erode these habits and beliefs over time. By starting small, we can build momentum and confidence, eventually leading us towards significant changes and progress towards our goals.