Sometimes I can’t be bothered to write, even though I want to. However, once I get going, I find myself getting into a flow rather quickly. Once I finish my task, I always get a sense of accomplishment. Even if I write 500 words instead of my usual target of at least 1000 words a day, I still feel great knowing I have made a start on my project. I get a feeling of forward momentum. This is the power of small wins.
The other day I was scrubbing my kitchen floor and thinking of how dirty it had gotten. It had been a hell of a long time since I’d last cleaned it and seeing it fresh and lemony gave me a great sense of satisfaction. Because it was only 10 am, I felt like I’d earned a rest if I wanted one. However, after completing my task, I wanted to do more and more. So, I grabbed some bin bags and had a clear out for the next several hours.
That’s the momentum you can get from having a small win, especially when it’s early on in the day. Of course, a small win doesn’t just happen by itself usually. You still have to do something to get that little win that can then compound into multiple small wins. When you set your day up to get small wins, it helps to encourage a positive day all round. You feel like you’re being productive and getting little niggly jobs done that you may have otherwise put off if you weren’t in the mood. Each small win can easily roll into the next and before you know it, you’ve proved to yourself that you can actually get things done, even if you thought you couldn’t be bothered beforehand.
Examples of small wins
Here are several examples of small wins;
- paying a bill on time
- making your bed in the morning
- finishing a workout
- finishing a book
- putting money in your savings
- cooking a new recipe well
- getting an unexpected discount on something you want
- finding cash in an old coat pocket
- getting a compliment from a stranger
- learning an old friend is coming to town unexpectedly
- getting your washing done before 9 am
- writing a journal entry
Small wins VS big wins
There are small wins that are out of our control but there are many small wins that we can influence ourselves and do off our own back to set our day up well. Small wins are powerful because they are easily achievable compared to big wins. Big wins don’t come around too often and they usually take longer to chip away at. For example, you may win some money in the lottery or pass your driving test. These things happen rarely or only once whereas small wins can be completed throughout your day.
Small wins don’t require a huge amount of effort and yet they can yield a great return in the form of motivation to do more productive tasks, in my opinion.
Small wins = accessible goals
Going after small wins that you can control is a great way of practising goal setting. It’s easy to set big goals for yourself only to fall short and feel bad about yourself. However, if you break your goal down into small wins, you can still work towards a larger goal in the form of smaller chunks. For example, when I was cleaning my kitchen floor I wanted to then clean the rest of my apartment, I had a good clear out of old things I didn’t use anymore and once I was done with that, I cleaned the carpet, behind the sofas, the sinks, polished and then completed all of the washing with the help of my partner. Small wins encourage a decent amount of motivation and help you experience goal setting in a less intimidating way than setting your sights on climbing Everest right off the bat. Small wins are often stepping stones toward larger wins.
For example, let’s say you wanted to try and get out of debt. Seeing how much debt you’re in can feel overwhelming, so much so that you may feel unable to move or even think about what to do next. However, if you break down your ultimate goal into smaller, much more achievable wins, your path may look like something like this;
Limit your spending on non-essential items > get under $30,000 of debt > get under $20,000 of debt > get under $10,000 of debt > get under $5000 of debt > pay off the last of your debt.
And you can break down your goal even more by paying off $100 a month. Even though it would take a long time to pay your debt off, you’ll know that you’re still working towards your goal in some form and $100 a month will feel like a small win in itself. It’s a sense of forward momentum you otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Whilst $100 a month is a small amount compared to your debt, you’ll feel much better knowing you’re taking control of your situation.
End procrastination with small wins
I love the idea of the power of small wins because I myself suffer from procrastination from time to time, especially when I’m writing. Writing is one of my favourite things to do. I love to learn and then share what I’ve learned on this blog. However, even when I have something I want to write about that I’m excited about, I still find myself reaching for my phone or doing more research than I actually need to. Part of the fun of writing is simply starting and seeing where it takes you.
When I’m writing an article, I like to aim for at least 1k words. If an article is anything less than 1k words, I usually think it isn’t helpful or interesting enough. When I find myself procrastinating I try and write a few hundred words to I get my main idea out and then at least I have nailed down my topic. That in itself is a small win that allows me to easily come back later and expand on what my idea was.
Similarly, if I’m looking to do some washing, I’ll put all of my clothes in piles, ready to be put in the washing machine. However, once I reach that point, I usually just go ahead and do several rounds of washing. The small win of organising my dirty laundry is enough to push me on to complete the whole task in one go. Just taking the first step can be the hardest but that first step is a small win in itself that could create a cascade of further small wins. Before you know it, you could have completed your whole task!
Small wins are trackable
Small wins are very trackable. For example, I bought an exercise bike in 2020, right after the pandemic hit. I wanted a way of exercising if I was going to be stuck inside for months on end. I’d never used an exercise bike consistently before, let alone owned my own, and I decided it would be a good idea to track my progress. My aim was to cycle at least 10 miles a few times a week. This usually amounted to 10 miles in 30 minutes and 250 calories burned.
I went ahead and created a Google Sheets document to log my workouts. Seeing my miles and calories mount up was fun and motivating. Every time I step off my bike I feel as if I’ve gained a small win that helps me to stay motivated for the rest of the day.
If you keep a gratitude journal (or a daily journal) why not use a few lines to jot down your small wins? That way you can go back over the days, weeks and months to see what went well for you.
Build better habits with the power of small wins
The idea of building habits can be daunting. After all, most of us are rather stuck in our routines. Taking a big step our of our routines can be challenging. You might try something new once in a while but but find it hard to replicate on a consistent basis. For example, if you’ve never been to a gym before, you might find yourself going once, feeling sore and exhausted afterwards and then never going back. Taking an hour and a half out of your day to go to the gym is a big chunk of time, especially if you work long hours and have children to look after. It can almost be inconvenient to travel there and back.
However, if you have never had a habit of going to the gym, you can build up to it instead by doing smaller activities at home using bodyweight exercises. Sometimes we feel as if we need to ‘go big or go home‘, but this is far from the truth if you ask me. Especially when it comes to bodyweight exercises. You can do a killer body workout in 20 minutes at home using only your own body, especially if you’re a beginner. In many cases, you’ll actually get a better workout doing this than if you went to the gym using lots of fancy equipment.
Many people fall into the trap of going to the gym for the optics, in my opinion. It looks like you are doing more in a room full of equipment but it’s not necessary at all.
An intense 20-minute workout doesn’t take long to complete and it is a powerful small win to have, especially when you do it a few times a week. Some of my best workouts have been with only the weight of my body which builds functional strength.
Celebrate your small wins
We’re used to celebrating our big wins but rarely do we celebrate our small wins. It’s important to celebrate your small wins because they are just as important to acknowledge as your big wins. They remind us that we’re doing well and heading in the right direction, even if things may seem glum on the face of things.
It’s up to you how you celebrate your small wins but make sure you do in a small way!
The power of small wins is underrated
In my opinion, the power of small wins is underrated. Small wins make us feel good and that’s all anyone wants, isn’t it? Unexpected small wins feel great but I would argue that the small wins within our control feel even better because we can influence them ourselves. These kinds of small wins motivate us because we learn that we can achieve more than we thought prior. This intern gives us a sensation of satisfaction that can’t be bought. It’s a sense of satisfaction that is pure but fleeting and therefore makes it even more precious and attractive to grab hold of again and again. It becomes addictive. When you see your body changing in the mirror you want more and more of the same!
The power of small wins gives you a sense of forward momentum, as if you’re heading in the right direction. This was one of the main reasons I started this blog. I wanted a sense of control, a sense of momentum around something I cared about. Every time I write about something I care about and am interested in I get a small win. It’s a feedback loop of positivity and satisfaction.
What will you do today to get your small wins?
This post was previously published on PROJECTENERGISE.COM.
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