It has been said that success is like a staircase because success is built through a series of small steps. Compared to large leaps, small steps support consistent behaviour, which helps to keep us motivated. One step at a time, consistent actions help us climb the staircase to success. In theory, this approach makes a lot of sense. Yet, so many folks feel like success is out of reach. Why is that?
The reality is that committing to taking small steps, building you up to where you see and feel success, is more often a big challenge because we live in a society that always seems to be in a hurry. If you have particular goals in mind related to your health and wellness, you may feel more motivated by seeing short-term results that require larger leaps compared to small steps that take time to build upon one another.
Think about the headlines of popular magazines sharing stories of those who have lost weight or reversed a serious health condition. The headlines tend to highlight those who have experienced success in the shortest amount of time. The headlines promote people like Sandra, who has lost 30 lbs in 30 days. Or Ben, who reversed his diabetes in 60 days.
We don’t often hear about people like Elisabeth, who lost 30 pounds over 2 years because she consistently met with a trainer 3 times weekly and tracked her food intake daily for more than 700 days. Or, people like Jonathan who invested 3 years of time and energy working with a team of healthcare professionals to learn about his body’s biofeedback and how his metabolism responds to his lifestyle choices.
If you are waiting for motivation to be the thing that leads you to success, sorry to say that you may be waiting a while to truly feel successful. Instead of focusing on motivation, start to think about the small steps you can begin taking today. More importantly, don’t overthink things. Just take action!
You see, action often precedes motivation – even though many believe that motivation precedes action. Many believe that motivation drives action; however, when you stop and think about it, action typically leaves you feeling an energizing boost in motivation. Small steps and tiny actions create momentum, and that momentum helps to fuel motivation.
Tiny actions can help break us free from the cycle of procrastination, which often leaves people feeling stuck. Most people would agree that getting started is the hardest part of taking action – even if getting started involves a small step. Five minutes spent on a simple task can lead to five extra minutes spent on more challenging things. Even if you only spend 5 minutes working on a simple goal or task, those five minutes can leave you feeling inspired and energized.
Motivation is fickle – some days you have it and some days it deserts you.
Author BJ Fogg, Ph.D., has said that motivation is fickle – some days you have it and some days it deserts you. On the other hand, when behaviour is tiny, it is easy to do. If you tell yourself that you are going to get to the gym versus telling yourself that you will do one push-up first thing in the morning, which are you more likely to have the motivation and ability to do? A tiny habit, or a small step, allows you to start today, right now and puts you on the path to success.
Let’s say that you have a goal of completing our 12-week Metabolic Renewal exercise program, but you haven’t been able to stay committed to an exercise program for the last few years. Here are some tiny actions that can help break you out of the cycle of procrastination in a matter of weeks:
- Week 1: I will find my DVD for the Metabolic Renewal or figure out how to log into the member library, online, at naturalhealthsherpa.com. This same week, I will watch the first set of workouts for phase 1. On Monday I will review workout A, on Wednesday I will review workout B, and on Friday I will review workout C. I will make sure I feel comfortable with the exercises and think about how to modify them if necessary.
- Week 2: I will only complete 1 circuit of each workout. This means on Monday I will complete my warm-up with one circuit from workout A, on Wednesday I will do that same thing for workout B, and on Friday I will repeat that same set of actions for workout C.
- Week 3: I will complete 2 circuits of each workout, following the same pattern as week 2.
- Week 4: I will complete 3 circuits of each workout, following the same patterns as week 1 and 2.
- Week 5: I will complete each workout for the full duration of the video for each workout (A, B, and C). This means on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will devote roughly 18-20 minutes of my day engaging in structured exercise.
- Week 6: I will complete each workout for the full duration of the video on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I will add in a burnout session after each full video circuit. This means each day of the week that I am engaging in exercise, I will need to set aside roughly 25 minutes of my time to warm-up, complete the workout circuit, and finish up the circuit with a burnout.
Although this format may not be exactly as outlined according to the Metabolic Renewal programming guide, does this feel more reasonable to you as an individual who is looking to create a more sustainable workout routine? Does this feel more like a series of small steps that will lead you to your larger goal? Do you see how each week builds on the previous week to create a more realistic transition into someone who exercises consistently versus someone who feels the need to stop and start?
If you enjoy reading, and you want to learn more about how tiny habits or small steps can help you achieve your own goals, I’ve tracked down a resource for you. A list of books that will help you to learn more about the benefits of tiny habits and small steps! You’ll even find author BJ Fogg included in the list of great reads. Here is a link to the 21 best books on building better habits, most of which (if not all), emphasize the benefits of small steps, or tiny actions, when wanting to build better habits.
As you commit to some small steps or tiny actions, be sure to give yourself kudos for things that are working well as small as these things may be. Never underestimate the importance of tiny actions. I truly believe that in no time you’ll be seeing yourself as someone who is stepping your way into success, and you’ll be feeling more energized and invigorated by your success along the way!
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash