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Small steps lead to big results

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Small steps lead to big results

Scott Miker

Most people overlook the little things in life.  They see a major goal or dream of theirs and assume that it is too big to do anything to try and achieve it. 

So they don’t do anything productive towards that goal.  It just sits there in their mind.  Sometimes it sits for years; sometimes it sits for their entire life.

Dr. Wayne Dyer has said, “Don’t die with the music still in you.”  His point is that we have to explore these dreams and goals and work hard to turn them into reality.  If we don’t explore these dreams we end up dying with all of that potential still inside of us.  

Part of the problem is that we undervalue the early, small steps that can build momentum and get us headed towards success.  We see giant obstacles down the road and talk ourselves out of those initial steps, feeling that those steps are not really helping.

In Enterprise-wide Change: Superior Results Through Systems Thinking, authors Stephen G. Haines, Gail Aller-Stead, and James McKinlay say, “Miniscule events at the beginning of a chain of events can lead to massive effects at the end.”

Since they are talking from the systems thinking perspective, they are referring to the very small, early steps that can be leveraged in a way to provide maximum value in the future.

They go on to say, “Systems Thinking helps you see patterns in the world and spot the leverage points that, when acted on, can lead to lasting, beneficial changes.”

Here is a quick example.  Let’s say you get in the habit of shopping at the grocery store by first going through each area of the produce section.  This could start to develop the idea of eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. 

When I was first living on my own, I always walked right past this section of the grocery store.  I went right to the boxed or frozen foods.  But when we evaluate nutrition in many of these foods we realize that most of the time the produce section is where we find the healthiest food options.

This might be a very small behavior but it can be leveraged to slowly, over time, result in better eating habits.  The more we do it, the more we will continue to do it.  The more we continue to do it the more likely we grab healthy options when we shop for groceries. 

But if someone wants to get healthy, they will probably ignore a simple approach like this one and try to suddenly, drastically change what they eat.  They will try to eat only salads or cut their calorie intake by 50%.  Such drastic measures might seem like the best approach to make change happen quickly but it is deceiving and will most-likely result in a failed attempt to get healthy.  A few weeks of hating this new process and you will fall back on all your old habits and systems. 

Instead if we start to slowly change those habits and systems then they prop us up and keep us going towards our goals, instead of working to derail any improvement attempt. 

Starting small and learning to leverage small behaviors in the beginning can help you to reach your goals by forming new systems and habits in your life.  These small steps could become solid behaviors that keep you moving towards success.