Making Incremental Change
Sometimes, life feels like a golf game: moments of brilliance followed by long periods of mediocrity.
The trick to changing is to shorten the time between the moments of brilliance while making that time more productive. Like a golf swing, you get there through repetition coupled with corrective actions. You gradually make an incremental change.
In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell writes that world class athletes have 10,000 hours of practice under their belt before they get to the caliber we see. As those incremental changes are burned into your memory, they become habits.
Incremental change means small, steady progress toward self-improvement. Here are 3 themes with increments you can make:
- Losing weight. Forget the diet fads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that just by switching from whole milk to low fat milk, you can reduce 25-30% of your calories from milk. This little step done daily can make a big change in your progress. Next, make one more change – like cutting back one meal per week of red meat. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Each month, add a new habit and stick with it for the whole month so it becomes part of you. The incremental change will be a lot easier to do.
- Reducing debt. Unless you win the lottery, paying off debt will take a little time. Set a goal to avoid Starbucks for a month. Or go to the deli for lunch an extra day or two during the week instead of a more expensive restaurant. Pocket the money you save, don’t spend it. Find other ways to cut your personal spending little by little. At the end of the month, pay down a debt, whether it is an extra principal payment on a student loan or your mortgage. If you earn extra cash from an odd job or consulting project now and then, allocate the money to reduce your debt. The incremental change will make it possible.
- Attracting happiness. People tune out those who constantly complain. Buy a tiny spiral notebook and put it by your bedside. Before going to sleep each night, make a very small entry that starts with “I am thankful for…” Think about what happened during the day that was good. There is always something, no matter now small. Monitoring what you are grateful for is a fast path to happiness.
Opportunities for incremental change are all around us. One tiny step each day will get you 365 steps closer one year from now.