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The paradox of small changes

1 min read
The paradox of small changes
Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash

One of my favourite quotes from Atomic Habits by James Clear is the power of tiny changes. James writes:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it is actually big. That's the paradox of making small improvements.”

Most of us dismiss small changes. We tell ourselves to "go big or go home", make big changes, and quit a few days later. When we fail, we blame ourselves for not being disciplined.

The truth is, your brain dislikes sudden changes. Telling yourself that you'll become a new person starting tomorrow is a recipe for burnout. Instead of making big changes, try making small changes and make that the new threshold. Small things are easy, and your brain is friendly towards them. By continuously making minor improvements, you'll be able to create something more significant than the sum of its parts.  

In the words of Bill Gates, “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.”

This might sound simple, but big things are composed of small things. By sticking to the small things consistently, you'll be able to make them into something big.

Start small.