When I graduated from college, I thought for certain that my life would change.
I put up two businesses, and closed two businesses. Maybe after all of that, my life would change.
I volunteered for a year to teach in a remote school in a rural area. I thought I would be of service, and that I would not change. I’d still be the same me.
I’d help people, and that I’d come back to my old world, my old life, and get back to being the business owner and multi-millionaire that I dreamed of becoming. Did that change me?
Turns out, that year changed me the most.
More than the seminars I attended.
More than the businesses I put up, and closed.
More than the things I bought or sold.
It was the living, the day to day.
That year of living with the children, living as a teacher, as a role model, as a community member, out in a rural area, changed my life. Living with them changed my life, something that I did not expect to happen.
For the longest time, I thought change was something big. I believed that to become somebody, you had to do drastic, big, life-changey things.
And to some extent, that was true.
I had to decide to change. I had to decide what to become. I had to decide what I wanted.
Most of all, I had to decide to do it, to follow through, to live it.
Looking back, the milestones in my life were celebrations of achievements. They were confirmations of change that had happened, of improvements made.
The turning points in my life were the moments I decided to change. I decided to achieve a goal that was set. I decided to work towards that goal.
Or I decided that I was fed up where I was right now, and that I had to get out and get to a better place for me.
In between the milestone and the decision, was where the real change happened.
Small actions, consistently done over time, has its effects compounded over time.
The change happened with every day that I choose to work towards what I set out to do.
The change happened with every moment that I chose what would help me get further.
The change happened with every effort I put forward towards the goal, towards the change.
A lot of the change that happens comes from our choice to shift where we are now, to build upon what we already have, and to keep choosing in support of ourselves and the change that we want to happen.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Change is exciting. Change can be frightening.
Realizing the need to change, and deciding to do it, can be energizing, and motivating. It motivated me to get off my chair and just go ahead and do something, anything! Just to get away from where I was then.
And that big decision moment comes alive in the moments of our lives. Our day to day choices that will either get us closer to the change we want to happen, or keep us stuck where we are now. Where we don’t want to be.
It is in how we spend our days.
Each day, each moment, each choice we make, and their results, build up and compound in us over time. They either shift or build in us the habits, actions, beliefs, and viewpoints we have of the world around us, and of ourselves.
Over time, taking actions, making choices, and spending our days for what we want to become and what we want to happen, gets us there.
Get 1% better every day.
When I wanted to start exercising, I set off with a goal of 20 push-ups a day. I was starting from zero. So the very next day, I went and pumped out the 20 push-ups.
Now, coming from not doing push-ups at all, it was such a difficult task. After a week, I felt spent, and didn’t continue. I felt it was too hard.
After some time, realizing that I really wanted to be in better shape, I set off with a goal of still making 20 push-ups. Only now, I started with one push-up.
A single one.
After a day, I did two, then three. Then I did fifteen for around 3 days, then 16, 17, all the way to twenty.
There were some days where I felt sore, hurting, but I focused on getting better each day. Even by just a little bit.
A little bit better each day.
Make a conscious effort. You may not do it all days, but try, and get back on track. Given time, the 1% every day leads to huge improvements. It leads to big changes.
Small steps, get you to the big steps.
Real, effective change doesn’t happen all at once. You’ve got to believe in it, and keep taking the small steps that will prepare you to take bigger and bigger steps.
At the peak of their fame, The Beatles were playing sold-out concerts in arenas, on television, for millions of people around the world. But they didn’t just form a band and start playing huge concerts.
They played at small gigs first. Living rooms, birthday parties, neighborhood gatherings, then small clubs, bigger clubs, they get noticed, get signed by a record company, and the rest is history.
And they played, and played, and kept on playing. There was even a time when they played several sets every night, every night during the week! They put in the practice and the hours, and that got them better at what they did, which then set them up to attract more and more people.
Small actions lead to big changes.
When I started to exercise regularly, not only did my physical health improve, but I saw other areas in my life improve as well. I felt better, had more energy to do things, felt more confident in myself, and I started to be more conscious about what I ate.
We can decide to change, be inspired to change, but without the actions to support it, change will not happen.
Lasting change comes from taking action, getting used to and adapting to new behavior and patterns of thinking. Even belief. To change your beliefs require small steps and constant action to support that new belief you want to cultivate inside of you.
Like how change is not instant. It’s not about going from 0 to 100 the quickest, but finding a way to get closest to 100, and staying there.
That permanent change is the result of the compounded results of purposeful and small daily actions, choices, and decisions.
Start small, and keep on going, for something big.
How has small actions led to big changes in your life? Please share in the comments below!