Micro Changes in Behaviors = Macro Changes in Your Life
The goals, dreams and ambitions of millennials speak volumes about who we are as people. Previous generations had long careers to lean into and were set on living an even-keel, relatively uneventful life at work and home. Their dreams and ambitions were tempered by societal norms, and lofty goals were seen as unnecessary. Progress was made, life got better. That was it.
So you’ll find our generation pushing aside the next “lifestyle” business and instead looking at creating or being a part of an impactful, world-changing empire. And when it comes to getting in shape, we don’t only want to lose a pound here or there – we want to get a permanent beach body and compete in triathlons while sticking to a juicing diet.
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But we’re also the generation of procrastination, distraction, ADHD. We’re a generation coping with mental health issues and depression, paralyzing thoughts, and never quite reaching our full potential. In the stew of big dreams and serious issues like these, sometimes what we reach for feels too large to be possible. A path that begins with excitement and purpose can easily stray into daunting territory and, worse, our vast goals can feel impossible before we even begin. We’re often caught asking ourselves: “Should I even start?”
Perhaps becoming as successful as Mark Zuckerberg or as fit as Serena Williams are dreams that may seem too large to achieve, but truthfully nothing is impossible. I would never encourage someone to give up because the current odds are not in their favour. The beauty of big dreams and lofty goals is that we can even the odds by finding new ways to approach our tasks and behaviours towards them.
I’ve had success with my big ambitions by following a simple approach. Here it is in 8 steps:
1. Dream Big
Never scrap your dream because it’s never been done before, or it seems impossible. Remember, all great things first originated with just an idea. Even if your goal is massive, you’d be making a mistake by shying away from it.
2. Micro Behaviours
Break down your goals into the behaviour changes that will yield your desired result. In the case of weight loss, most people would require small, incremental changes in diet and exercise to start. For entrepreneurship, it may be extending your working hours, better organization of your time, or learning to code.
3. Micro Tasks
Take those micro behaviours and assign tasks to them. For example, you may “task out” 30 minutes of cardio a day, or eliminate chocolate from your diet, and keep track of each time you’ve accomplished (or avoided) each. In the case of startups, you may quit Netflix from your evening routine, and dedicate that time to learn code.
4. Push Progress
All tasks should progressively get better. If your task is to run 30 minutes a day, you should be keeping track of, and progressively improving on, the time of your runs.
5. Measure your Micro Results
Always have a starting point, and find the right unit of measurement. For weight loss it’s easy: just weigh yourself on a scale. For entrepreneurship, it may be approaching the construction of a minimal viable product. Regardless of the goal, find the right unit of measurement and measure it often.
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Results don’t happen overnight, so it is important to give yourself a generous timeline. You can place micro goals within the timeline to make sure you are on track. But, be patient – all good things take time.
If after a reasonable amount of time you aren’t progressing, reconsider your behaviours in Step 2. Perhaps you need to add a new behaviour or adjust an existing one. In the example of weight loss, this could mean adding an additional type of exercise, like yoga or weightlifting, on top of what you are already doing. It may be cutting calories even further by eliminating most sugars. For entrepreneurship, it could be a new marketing approach, or changing what the minimal viable product looks like in order to achieve a deadline.
8. Leverage Confidence
Once you see results, don’t stop. Keep going! This is what separates the good from the great. You will notice yourself gaining confidence in your ability to achieve that goal. You can leverage that confidence to make your goal even larger and vast.
All things worth achieving can be broken down into micro behaviours and tasks. And all grand things, whatever grand may be to you, are worth doing if they add purpose to your life. As millennials, we have the desire to reach far and make an impact. Don’t retreat! Start with a micro-step, then another, and then another. With patience, those steps will take you further than you ever thought.