Small Wins Motivate Big Victories

Bad habits die hard and good habits come slowly. This is why it is important for us to begin small. Small tasks are generally easier to manage, don't take up too much time and aren't as intimidating. You're confident that you can complete this task with no sweat. Begin small, win small. This concept of small wins is a clever way to seduce our brains into committing to something that will turn into a much larger undertaking.

I once heard an example given for flossing your teeth. It's a hard habit to adopt - I've tried! But what if I commit to flossing one tooth per day. Just one.

I grab the floss, wrap the waxy string around my fingers and floss one tooth. I grin in the mirror - yep, looks good! Oh wait... there's another piece of corn in that other tooth. I'll just snag that real quick. Before you know it, you've flossed your whole darn mouth! By the time you've begun, the marginal effort to continue is relatively small so we are easily able to convince ourselves to keep going! Small wins give you the momentum needed to persevere through a task that would normally be perceived as too large to handle right now.

To put this concept into practice, I've created five tasks that are super easy to accomplish. With any luck, you'll find yourself doing more than you'd planned. BUT DON'T EXPECT THAT OF YOURSELF! If you only have time to do the one small task, then you're job is complete. That's all we're asking of you.

For the next 21 days do ONE of these tasks (take on two if you're feeling brave) every day. It is said that a habit takes 21 days to form - if this is the case, we'll be not only giving you small wins to motivate big victories but building good habits as well.

Without further ado,

1. Write 5 sentences on the topic of your choice

Writing is an incredible skill to have. Very few people can craft a sentence well and those who can rise above the rest. The most fundamental building block of teaching is through stories - we relate, we connect, we comprehend stories. Train yourself to write well by practicing daily. Five sentences is just one paragraph - not hard.

For your convenience, there is an easy model for cranking out a paragraph quickly called the TRIAC model:

  • Topic - Over the past two years, photography has become of personal interest to me.
  • Restriction - Specifically, I have found myself obsessed with landscape photography.
  • Illustration - Just last weekend I was photographing Mount Fuji in Japan and I was speechless with wonder at its majesty.
  • Application - I believe that everyone should experience the joy that comes through preserving a scene in a photograph.
  • Conclusion - The magic of landscape photography is a gift that I will cherish and cultivate for the rest of my life.

2. Do 5 push-ups and 5 sit-ups

You don't have to be super fit to do five of each. If that's all you can do, then I applaud you for starting! If you can do more, you're already in the position - go ahead and crank out a few more!

Doing this every day will help you to exercise your shoulders, arms and core.

3. Read 1 chapter in a book

We've all got that book sitting on the shelf - you want to read it but you just can't find the time to sit down and get to it. Just before you drift off to sleep, sneak in one chapter's worth. If the chapter is incredibly long, just shoot for 10 pages. Enjoy!

4. Clean/Organize 1 shelf or cabinet

The nonsensical jumble of Tupperware just to the left of the refrigerator needs to be re-stacked, the towels beneath the sink in the bathroom need to be refolded, the junk drawer at your desk could use a good cleaning and that shelf of knick-knacks could probably be put to better use.

Pick one and clean away!

5. Get rid of 2 non-trash items that are simply taking up space in your home

We've all got stuff. We aren't quite sure why we got it, where we got it from, what it's doing here or why we haven't gotten rid of it... but there it sits. Taking up space. Doing absolutely nothing.

It's time to get to work cleaning out the arteries of your home, leaving you with beautiful, uncluttered, freeing space.


Just do it.
— Nike