What do Mother Teresa, James Clear, and Darren Hardy have in common? They’ve celebrated the power of small actions to have a profound impact on our lives.
Mother Teresa said, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
One of our basic human needs is a sense of control. Sometimes it feels like small things are all we can access or control right now. This quote resonates so strongly because it’s a reminder that those little things matter. And they can be our source of strength – how we create control when we feel none exists.
Small steps feel doable. They’re the gateway to reclaiming our power.
Below, I’ll share a few gems I learned on how to create some control and better outcomes just by doing a few small things.
Intuitively we know that control matters.
Psychologists refer to the concept as the locus of control (LOC). According to an article Psychology Today, “The more internal our LOC, the more we believe our own efforts determine what happens in our lives; the more external our LOC, the more we feel our lives are controlled by outside forces (chance or powerful others),”
Research has shown that “self-control is the strongest predictor for happiness, and self-control is positively and significantly related to LOC.”
A sense of control leads to more happiness and ability to cope with adversity, but we knew that.
So let’s create some!
Small is Big
We’re big thinkers, and we’ve got audacious goals. Understandably, it can be hard to wrap our minds around that level of thinking right now. That’s ok. We can go small and still make a big difference.
Darren Hardy reminds us in The Compound Effect, that the most impactful goals take a long time. But small changes and actions done repeatedly will harness the power of momentum needed to help you achieve them.
Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE
Unfortunately, the effect of small changes can be unnoticeable in the short-term. And in our instant gratification world, they can be quickly abandoned. We don’t do them long enough to see the payoff.
If I cut out 100 calories a day, after a year, I will have lost 10 pounds! That’s great, but on day 10, or 40, or 90, the result of that action is almost invisible.
James Clear provides a great example of this compounding effect in his must-read book, Atomic Habits. If you improve something 1% each day for a year, you will be almost 40% better by the end of the year.
Where to Start
If 1% better each day sounds useful to you, and you’d find some ideas and inspiration helpful, then look no further. Hardy gives us a few starting points:
Identify two to three new habits you need to develop to put you on track toward an important goal.
Consider a few, seemingly inconsequential actions you can stop doing that might be compounding your results downward.
List a few areas or skills you’ve always thought to be your strengths. Are you taking those for granted by not continuing to improve them? Are you becoming complacent?
In a time when feeling powerless is the norm, we can find some power in the small choices and decisions that we make. A few small changes performed repeatedly provide the opportunity to create a much-needed sense of control, and become a better version of ourselves.
Stay safe and be well.