Hey there, Dean here. I run content and SEO at AppSumo. Here, I write and share about productivity, leadership, money, psychology, marketing, and more.
3 illustrations that explain why tiny action works best
Today, I want to share with you a visual post. After several iterations, I figured that the idea is best delivered in illustrations.
In the past couple of weeks, I talk about life is a game of leverage. Then, I dive deeper specifically to the leverage of time. Gaining more leverage in life is never the destination. It’s a process. And the best thing you can do to make sure you get there is to start now.
But then, there is a problem.
Most people believe that in order to change their outcomes, they need to take massive action. In fact, you can observe these scenarios in everyday life.
When people talk about entrepreneurship, they share their world-shifting ideas that they think are the best. When people talk about getting fit, they start to visualize the body of some bodybuilders or athletes. When people talk about making more money, they think about timing the market to hit a home run.
No one talks about the local bakery that has been around for a decade. No one talks about doing the same compound movements in the gym over and over again for years. No one talks about putting aside 20% of their income to invest in index funds.
When I urge these people to start now, their first reaction is: how? In their own paradigms, they don’t have the resources, skills, and time to get started.
You see, massive action is great in theory and makes you look smart in conversations, it’s not practical in real life. My argument is that, instead of focusing on massive action, the best way to accomplish your desired outcomes is to start small.
Here is why.
Our energy fluctuates over time. While massive action sounds good, it requires a lot of energy to get started and get done. The negative difference between our available energy and the energy requirement becomes the resistance.
On the other hand, tiny action requires substantially less energy and effort. Hence, there is little to no resistance when we’re focusing on taking small steps. The idea is to make it so easy that you can’t ignore it.
It seems insignificant when we make tiny changes. That’s exactly why many people dismiss continual improvement. If small action doesn’t make a difference, why bother?
What they failed to see is that every tiny change is a decision. And every decision has the potential to put them on a different path. At first, a small change seems to make no differences at all. But ultimately, the path you end up taking will put you in a greatly different trajectory than the path you don’t.
1% improvement every day for 365 days equal to 36 times improvement from Day 1. On the other hand, 1% improvement decay every day for 365 means lead to 19 times of diminishment.
Small action seems insignificant at first, but with the compounding effect, consistent tiny action always leads to exponential impacts. That's how people like Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Phelps, and Will Smith make a difference.
Time and time again, people are not making changes even when they know they need to change. Deep down, they want to take the leap and make the shift, but the obstacle is just too huge.
Last week, I encouraged you to start now — if you ever wonder how should you start immediately, the answer is simple: Start small.