“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” This is one of the famous quotes from Confucius. And the success principle within this line explains how anyone can achieve anything they want if they are willing to put in small and consistent effort.
You may have heard of the best-selling book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” written by Dale Carnegie. But do you know that the book started as a set of rules printed on a card no larger than a postcard?
Carnegie prepared a short talk where he called it ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ The short talk was well-received and was then evolved into a course. And he needed teaching materials for the course. And so, Carnegie wrote down the rules for his course on a card and delivered it to his fellow students.
And in the next season, he printed the rules on a larger card, then a leaflet, then a series of booklets, with each version expanding in size and scope.
After 15 years of teaching, research, and experimentation, he compiled his rules for his course and became the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. That was how the best-selling book was written. One step at a time.
Remember how Apple started? It began with Steve Jobs and his friend Steve Wozniak launching their tech giant in Job’s garage. The same went for Amazon. Jeff Bezos and his team started Amazon selling only books. But Bezos had a big dream and today, Amazon is a multi billion-dollar company.
As you can see, everything started small. Every big success you have heard of started as a series of small steps.
Therefore, the key to success is to start small. Below are the 5 reasons why you want to commit to taking baby steps:
1. It takes less time and energy
It is always easier to start small. Think about it, do you think it is easier to write a 300-page book or it is easier to write just 1,000 words a day? Of course, the answer is obvious. And because it is easier to start small, your resistance to doing the work will be lowered. You don’t need too much motivation or willpower to get small things done.
This is why it is so vital to focus on small victories. If you do only 5 small things a day, you will have accomplished 5 small wins. In a week, you will have produced 35 little wins. In a month, you will have 150 small wins. And within a year, you will have accomplished 1,825 small victories.
Do you think these small victories will accumulate and make a huge impact on your life? You better they will.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
2. It prevents overwhelming
Another key reason you want to start small is that it prevents overwhelm. You see, one of the main reasons people procrastinate and put things off until a later time is because of the pain of doing the work.
They feel overwhelmed to do the work. They feel the pain. And hence, they choose to procrastinate and delay the work. However, when things are easy to do, you won’t feel overwhelmed by them. Again, it is easier to commit to writing just 1,000 words a day than to complete an entire 300 page book.
It is your psychology that is in play. When you look at the entire project, you feel like you need to spend a lot of time and energy to do it. But when you break down the project into small actionable steps, you can tackle one small step at a time.
You have to understand that every big thing once started small. When you try to do everything all at once, you feel powerless and overwhelmed by the scale of the work involved.
3. It grows your confidence and motivation
Imagine you have goals to pursue and you know what you need to do today to make progress, but you don’t do anything. By the end of the day, how will you feel? Guilty and not good, right?
But if you stick to your plan, take action, and make progress, how would you feel at the end of the day? You’d likely feel satisfied and motivated, right? Because you have done something, made progress, and are slowly moving towards your goals.
That’s what taking small steps will do for you. When you make progress, you feel good. It boosts your confidence and motivation level.
Here’s a great quote from Tony Robbins, “People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
This is why you want to make sure you are building upward momentum. Take small actions and make progress to build your momentum. The more momentum you gain, the more powerful you become.
4. It gives you the ability to pivot
There is another essential reason to start small – it allows you to pivot. Let me give you an example. Imagine you want to write a weight loss book, but you have no idea what title to write. And so, you start with writing short articles with various titles across the same industry.
And then you notice that one particular article received the most engagements. People share the article, leave comments, and say how much they love it. And you decide to write a book based on the article.
That’s the pivot. You use feedback you get from the small actions you make and then grow it into something bigger. In business, it is called MVP, Minimum Viable Product. You want to quickly test to see if an idea works before you put in your time and money to develop the complete product. When you start small, it allows you to pivot by getting immediate feedback from your actions.
“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb
5. It simply is the first step
Yes, no matter how big or small your goals or the success you want, you simply have to take one small step at a time. You can’t skip steps.
Just like if you want to lose weight through exercise, there is no way you can skip the exercise and get to the result directly. Taking small steps are necessary because there are no shortcuts to success.
Therefore, dream big, and start small. You don’t have to commit to taking big and bold steps, because all you need to do is take one baby step at a time. Be consistent, and eventually, you will arrive at your destination.
By Shawn Lim