The Power of Incremental Change Over Time

I have always been fascinated by the power of incremental change over time. Most people underestimate this. They think they have to take massive action to achieve anything significant.

Men's Hands Holding a Measuring Tape Against a Wall - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/michellegibson, Image #14720530

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/michellegibson

I am not opposed to massive action. I have used it myself to achieve certain results. But it causes most people give up before they ever start. They just don’t think they can make the investment.

For example:

  • I have a friend who needs to lose fifty pounds. He can’t seem to get started. Why? Because he thinks he will have to go on a radical, unsustainable diet.
  • I overheard a man at the coffee shop complaining to his friend that he hasn’t taken a family vacation in years. When his friend asked why, he said, “We just don’t have the money.”
  • One of the guys I mentor confessed that he had never read the Bible all the way through. When I asked why, he said, “You mean, other than the fact that it’s about 1200 pages long?”

What these people don’t realize is that they could make small, daily investments that would soon lead to big results. Here are seven examples to get your creativity flowing.

  1. Losing Weight. Earlier this year, I lost eleven pounds in six weeks. A friend of mine lost 83 pounds in a year. Both of us did it using LoseIt. We didn’t do much other than record what we ate daily. By becoming aware of what we were eating, we made healthier choices.
  2. Paying Off Debt. One of my friends paid of $15,000 in debt in less than a year. She didn’t do anything radical. She simply setup a budget, took opportunities to make extra income, and cut back on gourmet coffee and other non-essentials. She used Dave Ramsey’s “debt snowball” to pay off her smallest debts first, then the larger ones.
  3. Improving Profitability. In a publishing division I used to run, we decided to improve our margins by 2% over one year. We chunked it down to one-half percent per quarter. We focused on targeted price increases and expense control. It dropped over a million dollars to the bottom line that year.
  4. Writing a Book. I have used my blog to write several books. I mapped out the book and then wrote it one 500-word post at a time. Using this method, you can write a 50,000 word book in 100 days. At my pace of about five posts a week, that takes just twenty weeks. Plus, you get great feedback along the way.
  5. Running Long Distances. When I started running, I could barely walk a mile. Then I discovered Jeff Galloway. I started running for one minute and then walking for two. Gradually, I increased my distance and the time I was running. Within a year, I was able to run my first half marathon.
  6. Reading the Bible. The bible is a big book, no doubt. But in less than 15 minutes a day, you can read the entire Bible through in a year. Here’s an online plan I used for several years. Currently, I am reading through The NKJV Daily Bible (Thomas Nelson).
  7. Saving Your Marriage. I had another friend in a really bad marriage. On the advice of his mentor, he started practicing “5 for 5.” He simply walks in the house after work, moves within five feet of his wife, asks her about her day, and listens for five minutes. Though a small start, it has now grown to 30 minutes a day. Their relationship has reversed course.

I’m convinced you can do almost anything if you are willing to clarify your goals and then make the incremental investment over time to achieve them.

Question: What small steps could you take today to move you toward a big outcome? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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