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The power of small gets a rap sheet longer than its actual size.
I get it.
I feel its light touch too.
What can 5 minutes of work actually change?
What does 5 dollars do in a savings account?
Can 5 chocolate, caramel, macadamia nut candies count as dinner?
All valid concerns.
Despite its reputation, the power of small can leveraged big changes. Its strength is in the effort: cute, brief, and repetitive.
I define the power of small as tiny, repetitive steps that build towards bigger results.
Some actions need audacious steps, like getting a new cell phone or having a kid. There is no partial cell phone purchase or baby production.
Most goals can be broken down into smaller chunks that feel friendlier and possible. Small actions build momentum because success breeds like finger-chopping hamsters.
Once I accomplish something, even a tiny something, it’s easier to tackle the next because clearly, I’m the Master of the Universe when I can prevent being late to work by 3 minutes when I add 5 minutes to my commute.
If I can accomplish that, look out string theory! I’m going to Google my way into your depths!
The Momentum Miracle
When working on big goals like saving 12k in a year or life’s favorite side effect: adulting – momentum and motivation are productivity twins that take it for the win.
It’s much harder to pull large amounts of motivation from the depths to declutter the whole house in a weekend. Whereas if I ratchet that down a bit, it’s easy to pull motivation to declutter a shelf in the linen closet in 5 minutes.
Once I tackle the shelf, chances are I’ll have to be riding an endorphin high (don’t judge) and look for the next easy win.
As a human who occasionally fails, I love winning.
Multiple small wins are how I build momentum for bigger projects like decluttering photo albums, filing cabinets, and 100 phone contacts when I only use 5.
Bloom Where You’re Planted
The power of small is less judgy.
I can do a small step no matter where I’m at.
If my hair is questionable, my energy is seeping, and my sweatpants haven’t changed in a week, I can do something small.
I don’t always have the ideal hair, energy, and actual pants, but when I’m doing something tiny, I can summon something.
When the water heater busted, I could have called the first place that answered and had it installed.
It felt too big and more daunting than the Sunday scaries.
Instead, I started researching water heaters. Then, I asked coworkers about companies they’ve worked with. Next, I called around and got quotes.
Instead of getting a new water heater in less than a day, it took a week for a new one to get installed. During the broken water heater era, I experienced one icy shower, many cold-water dishwashing sessions, and multiple work showers.
It reminded me of temporary homelessness (camping).
Thankfully, the water heater broke in during the summer, so not having hot water didn’t feel like a frozen tear tragedy in the heart of a Montana winter.
The power of small wears fear like a soft, supple leather jacket.
With a small action, it’s easy to redirect or dump effort. No awkward conversations with your partner about career changes or painful dinner dialogue.
As a science nerd, I tend to frame it as a social experiment.
If a small step ends up busted like a rusty lock, it’s a valid experience because it was an experiment.
I can claim for all who aren’t listening: I did it for the science.
In science, being wrong is worth the effort because you learn something; big street cred for scientists.
Whereas if I had changed my career when I figured out how to pick a lock, I’d be avoiding Mr. BuLL’s eye contact for a solid 3 days as I covertly changed my career field back to natural resources.
Instead, the extent of my small steps with lock picking was buying a lock picking set. Since my interest zeroed once I figured out how to do it, I feel very little guilt about donating the set. There was some energy and money invested, but it was minimal.
If only all fear of failure was so easily deflected.
The Power of Small
The power of small can’t solve all the problems, but it can solve many.
There are 24 hours in a day. Statistically, I’ll be working, sleeping, or eating for a bulk of that time.
What’s left? A few moments for something. (Definitely not lock-picking!)
David, the big, eloquent voice at Raptitude, states with brilliant conviction, “Every little act, right down to the attitude you’re carrying when you step onto the bus, is a moral choice with ever-rippling consequences.”
$5 and 5 minutes can’t fix it all, but it is a start to a long, successful journey to a bigger, brighter future.