If you ever feel overwhelmed (or frozen by procrastination), the best way to move forward is by using small steps. Learn how to use the “1 percent rule” and “Kaizen” to make small, continuous changes that have a HUGE impact. You won’t believe the power of small!
Why Go Small?
Going small seems wrong, doesn’t it? We hear expressions all the time that tell us “Bigger is Better, “Think Big,” or “Go Big or Go Home.”
No one tells us to “Go Small.”
It sounds ridiculous! Why would you want to go small? You want to be the BIG Kahuna! The Biggest Fish in a Small Pond!
So why go small?
Here’s the secret: The smaller the change, the easier it is to do (and maintain!).
When you achieve something small, you feel great and it propels you to move forward and keep going. However, when something seems big and overwhelming, you get overwhelmed an don’t even start! The bigger the task, the more likely you are to procrastinate and find any excuse to avoid it.
The podcast episode below explains why smaller changes are easier to do and how you can use small changes to see big results in your own life.
Listen above to learn how to make small changes that have big results.
Think about how this is true in your own life. Do you have things on your to-do list that seem overwhelming so you never get to them?
For example, imagine you had a goal to clean your whole house on Sunday, from top to bottom. Do you think you’d do it?
What if instead you had a goal to clean just 1 bathroom? Would the bathroom get cleaned?
I’m guessing that unless you have a routine for cleaning your house that you’ve built over many years (I’m so jealous!), “life” would happen and you probably wouldn’t get to cleaning the whole house — it’s just too big of a job!
But if your goal was to clean just 1 bathroom, I’m guessing that at the end of the day not only would that bathroom be sparkling clean, so would the Kitchen, and maybe the Dining Room, too! You’d feel so great about knocking that 1 small task off your to-do list, you would feel energized to keep going.
That’s the advantage of staying small! When you exceed your doable goal, you feel GREAT and that keeps you going!
Learn from the Japanese
I first learned about the concept of “going small” from the Japanese business philosophy Kaizen. Kaizen translates as change (Kai) to become good (zen). It’s the idea that small continuous changes cause HUGE improvements.
This concept is the opposite of hustle. It’s not about working till your fingers bleed. It’s about evaluating what you’re doing and making little tweaks. Rinse and repeat. You don’t ever “arrive.” You just keep making small changes and improving.
Many big companies have adopted this philosophy, including Toyota, Ford, Nestle, even the Mayo Clinic!
Although it’s a business principle, I think it applies to everyone’s life.
It’s hard to make big, sweeping changes (that you can actually maintain). Instead, why not make small changes that are doable?
The 1 Percent Rule
I recently read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits (which I HIGHLY recommend). He talks about a similar concept to Kaizen, which he calls “The 1 Percent Rule.”
The 1 Percent Rule means that if you improve things by just 1% over time, it’ll give you a HUGE advantage as the improvement accumulates and compounds over time.
1% is barely noticeable. It doesn’t take much to improve things by 1%. However, James Clear shows that if you make a 1% improvement each day, by the end of the year you’ll be 37 times better! That’s a lot!
For example, if you exercise once every blue moon, you won’t get much benefit. But according to the 1% Rule, if you keep exercising and do it consistently, by the end of the year you’ll be much healthier!
Going Small in Your Own Life
Next time you struggle with something, ask yourself how you can make the smallest change possible to improve the situation. Ask yourself, “what LITTLE tweak or action can I do that will move things just a bit forward?”
This is especially helpful when working on a new habit. Start small! As small as you can! The smaller you start, the more likely you are to keep going.
Kaizen and the 1 Percent Rule is really about a mind-shift. It gets you thinking SMALL and sustainable, instead of BIG and unsurmountable. It also encourages you to constantly re-evaluate and tweak.
Small is incredibly powerful! Use the power of small to make significant, lasting changes in your own life.
If you’d like to start a small new habit or routine but can’t decide what to do, I created a printable to help you as part of my free resource library. It has a list of small habits you can adopt. If you repeat these habits, week after week, you’ll see BIG changes in your life. (Be sure to start with only one so you don’t become overwhelmed!)
How do I Download My Free Printable
Click on the picture above to download. If you are new to this site and need the password, sign up below and you’ll get it right away, so you can download your file and start getting more balanced!
What Will You Shift?
In the comments, let me know what you’ll be working on in small, little steps. Will it be a new habit?
Wishing you so much success in all you do!