Small Wins Create Momentum

So you really need to turn things around in your life, but you are standing at the bottom of the mountain looking up and it seems to be an almost impossible feat. If you are loaded with self-assurance and confidence, taking on these kinds of goals can be a walk in the park, you may not even think twice about it. However, more often than not, attempting to negotiate these bigger mountains, can lead to crushing failures and eventually ending up right back where you started. How often have you heard of people trying to break bad habits or create new positive ones cold turkey, only to fall off the wagon Day 1! Some people are successful in attempting the cold Turkey approach, but many are not. Old habits usually take time and effort to break and the same goes for creating new ones.

To create new positive habits, it is a matter of consistent, positive repetition of the mindset, and practice of the action; this will lead to the creation of the habit you desire to unconsciously maintain. If you want to break some of the bad habits you may have, the process is simply the opposite. To break these bad habits, it is a matter of slowly reducing the habit itself to the point that your body's physical, emotional, mental or physiological reliance dissipates. You will have less desire to fulfill the need you originally felt from maintaining the 'bad habit' in the first place. When you want to create a new positive habit, consistently repeating the habit your desire will ingrain it into your unconscious mind.

So what does it mean to train your unconscious mind? Most of what we do and think is based on habits that run automatically on an unconscious level. For example, a person driving home the same route consistently will often find themselves forgetting a good portion of their journey; their thoughts may wander and their focus may be somewhere else. So what happens? The unconscious mind takes over and basically guides you home.

In the movie 'CLICK' with Adam Sandler, he has a TV remote that allows him to control time. At one point in the movie he wonders what happens to him when he fast forwards or skips time. What happens is he simply runs on auto-pilot, in other words unconsciously. It allows him to function, but only with what he already knows and has consistently practiced.

This is the unconscious at work. It accounts for approximately 95% of brain activity.

Adding new positive habits can be challenging and removing bad habits even more difficult; this is why starting small is the most effective and practical approach. So what is the process to create these habits and start these steps?

1. Start small, no, I mean really SMALL! What I mean is if you want to quit smoking, change your diet, exercise more, read more, study more, then instead of saying, 'well I'll just stop this habit and replace it with another more positive one' (which can be very hard), consider breaking that process down into much smaller chunks. Lets use the example of changing your eating habits. If you break it down into levels it may look like this:-

  1. Change whole diet cold turkey- (BIG GOAL/ END GOAL)

  2. Eat better during the weekdays-

  3. Eat better 50% of the time.-

  4. Always eat a healthy dinner-

  5. At least eat one healthy meal a day-

  6. Drink a big cup of water before breakfast or start breakfast with a piece of fruit. (BIG GOAL BROKEN DOWN)

You can see how it works. You have your end goal, but trying to change in such a drastic way for most people simply will not work without a serious catalyst for change. So pick your goal and break it down into smaller pieces. All you need to do is to break it down and then build it back up again. using the above example- 1st it would be a cup of water before breakfast, then maybe before every meal, then maybe less carbs, or eating better every second day, then possibly eating well during the weekdays and finally finishing with the end goal you originally intended on reaching.

2. The small win strategy can be applied in many areas. You could use the same process for study, exercise and even meeting your perfect partner. If your goal is to meet your perfect partner, instead of just going straight at it, maybe you could start with something like, having the confidence to say hello to someone attractive, then try holding a basic conversation, maybe you could join a group to gain exposure to different types of people to see what kind of person grabs your attention and so on. The small win strategy allows for slow forward progression, almost negating the possibility for any overwhelming failures or crushing defeats that may break your confidence or momentum entirely.

3. If the process is broken and you end up relapsing or going backwards, do not despair. Try a new approach or angle, break it down and build it up again. We can’t expect to just break old habits overnight or on our first attempt, but over time the process will be easier and your mind will put up less resistance to the changes being made. So, persist and continue the process until the wins add up to either a major accomplishment, a positive lifestyle change, a change of attitude or the creation of a helpful habit that simply cycles over and over. You will fall off the horse, just be sure to climb back on and have another go. Once you have created a new habit or accomplished that goal, just start with another.