Three Key Factors that Make Small Changes Work for Goal Achievement

We live in a world where we are conditioned to believe that only big steps and big achievements count.  The world says that if you can’t have it all today, there’s no point in taking small steps to get to some distant tomorrow that seems out of reach.  It seems like small efforts will never get us to where we want to be.

So we keep reaching trying to take big leaps...looking for that “overnight success”.  It’s just like the New Year's resolution that I talked about in my last post that turns into a 10 year run that often leaves you bone tired, and right where you started.  

Pursuing a goal is kinda like trying to run away from a wall when you’re strapped to it with a giant rubber band. If you keep trying to make big leaps, the band will just snap you back over and over again.  But if you walk away from it slowly, one step at a will stretch and stretch until it eventually snaps and you’re free!

Small change is the key to making this happen.  You’re going to need three things if you want to snap the bands instead of getting snapped back.   Without them, you’re probably going to end up right back in do over land.

Self Esteem

The first is self esteem.   It’s defined as confidence in one's own worth or abilities.  

Before you even get started on your goal, you need to establish your worth as it relates to the change you want to make.  Why are you pursuing this goal? Why is it worth the effort?

Then ask yourself if you believe you can do it.  If your answer is no, then consider the smallest step you could make towards that goal and ask yourself if you can do that.   Make the step as small as you need it to be for your answer to be yes. This will be your starting point.


Second is optimism.  It’s defined as hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

What kind of voice do you have on replay in your head?  Does it keep telling you everything you do wrong and how incapable you are?  Or does it encourage you to keep going and believing, even when you experience setbacks?

If you want to do something you’ve never done before, you’re going to have to know how to hang on to hope.  You’re going to have to know how to see even when you can’t see.

If you struggle with being optimistic, start by choosing small things to be hopeful for.  If you can’t think of anything, then start a small practice of just saying…”I am optimistic.”  If it feels foreign to you to say this, then write the statement down on a piece of paper, post it on your bathroom mirror and read it out loud when you wake and again before bed.  The repetition will train your brain to adopt this new belief.


Third is vision.  It’s defined as a mental image of what the future will or could be like.

Can you see yourself healthier?  Prosperous? Successful? Happier?  

You can’t become any more than what you imagine yourself to be.  Everything that you are now and everything that you can be is born from your mental picture of yourself.  That picture determines your limits. Paint your picture with care.

If you want to see changes in yourself, you have to first see them in your mind.  So think of the you that you want to be. Think specifically about how you will be once you have achieved the goal you’re chasing.  What do you look like? What do you feel like?

Get an image of that you in your mind.  Feel it and hold on to it. Write down how you see yourself.  Include both the visual changes and the mental and emotional changes you see.  Use this as a reminder to help you refocus when you’re vision becomes clouded.

Self esteem, optimism and vision are the foundation for the series of small steps that you take to change your life in any way.  Mental, physical, or spiritual. If you don’t have these, you’ll lack the faith that it takes to believe that the small steps will work for you.  

You’ll see it all as a waste of time.  You’ll think that the small steps will never get you where you are going, so you have to do something big.  You’ll try something that is so big that you can’t sustain the weight of it long term, and you’ll quit. And when you quit, you’ll reinforce the vision of yourself as a failure, you’ll damage your belief in yourself, and deal another blow to your self esteem. The rubber band snaps you back.

Here’s an example of the difference between the big jump and the little steps.  This isn’t a diet plan or any guarantee of results you might at achieve by doing this.  It’s simply a scenario I’m using as an example to show the difference between a taking a big leap or small steps to achieve a goal.


The first method fails in the end because you expected yourself to completely change overnight.  The second method sticks because the change was made small and slowly over time so your brain had time to accept the change and incorporate it into the fabric of who you are.  4 to 6 months later, and you don’t even have the desire for the bread anymore.

Kaizen Reach Goal.png

And the best part is...the success of this process reinforces your positive self esteem, raises your optimism, and encourages you to build on your vision or create a new one.  It builds on itself over and over again with each new goal!

So go back and ask yourself the questions I mentioned above about your self esteem, optimism, and vision.  Determine where you are and what next step you should take to get to where you want to be in each of these areas. Take the small steps now that will eventually break the bands that are holding you back.  Avoid the big leaps that will snap you back and throw you down. Find yourself where you envisioned instead of starting over again and again.

Leslie BrooksComment