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Inculcate a new habit: Power of Tiny Gains

Updated: May 22, 2022

We all want to “improve” or change (for better of course) but the thought of doing something different can be daunting. Even if we are really motivated to change; often, we don’t know where and how to start. An easier and proven way towards change management is to start making smaller positive changes every day without focusing on the bigger end goal at once.

According to #JamesClear concept of continuous improvement, if we just get 1% better each day for one year, we will be 37 times better at the end of the year. (It may not take you 1 year, but you get the point though).

Power of compounding - small changes may not show a big difference at a time but it adds up over time. It also helps us learn a critical trait of “consistency”

The other way to look at it – if you get worse by 1% every day, you end up losing 97% of your value – Scary? Sure, this is theory, and you can argue that people don’t really get worse but in today’s era if you don’t get better, you are getting worse.

For now, lets focus on power of tiny gains i.e. how do we get better.

Let’s take an example: Let’s say that I now want to get into a habit of reading books. Just because I want to do something, doesn’t mean that I will do it – at least for us mortals it doesn’t happen straightaway.

So, what to do, let’s examine a simple 4 step process:

In our example, Step 2 could look like this:

In my experience if we start focusing on such small positive changes every day, it ultimately results in a positive change.

This can also be helpful while developing a new skill, some time back, I was working with an emerging leader who recently got promoted into a new role. The leader wanted to work on his public speaking skills, he wished to be much more confident while addressing a large team or presenting at company townhalls – a reality of his new role.

Following the above approach, the leader started to focus only on small everyday habits without thinking about the daunting end goal of public speaking. Achieving these small wins also helped gain confidence in his ability to succeed. As coach, I would work with him on this list, celebrate the wins and be his accountability partner towards developing this new skill.

Ultimately, this worked and the leader – a service line head at a multinational firm was much more confident while speaking at large events, townhalls and industry conferences. This helped his build credibility and trust as an Emerging Leader in the firm.

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