May 06

How starting small can help you reach your biggest goals



It’s been said that the world gets smaller each day due to the technologies that allow us to communicate and share information rapidly. However, with this interconnectedness comes the need to stay connected at all times. Our smartphones, tablets, computers, and now even watches are becoming a constant distraction, offering the comfort of a news feed or a snapchat. Many people find it impossible to focus on intensive tasks anymore without becoming distracted by social media and the internet. To stay on track, one student at the University of North Carolina even went so far as to write a program that would deactivate the internet connection on his computer for a specified amount of time. While not everyone might choose to go this route, the limitation he placed on himself and the resultant success brings up some interesting points to consider.

Your brain actually gets tired if you make it do the same things over and over again. One thing that we do a lot of is making decisions. From what to wear, to what to eat for breakfast, to what time we need to leave to get where we need to go, we start to weigh out a number of decisions before we even get out of bed in the morning. At some point during the day we start to lose willpower due to a phenomena called “decision fatigue”, which is just what it sounds like: the brain getting tired of making so many decisions. Thus to avoid running into this problem, it makes sense to remove excess options to keep you focused on your main goal. Even though we may think we want more choices, “when everything is a possibility, it actually becomes harder to make the right choice”.

What are some examples of putting this into practice? recommends putting the types of constraints on yourself that force you to “start small”. This might look like:

  • Making plans to only study one subject at a time. These types of limitations force you to focus your energy into one specific thing, keeping you from getting overwhelmed with a variety of tasks.
  • If you want to eat healthy, require yourself to add just one or a few specific food items to your diet each week, to guarantee that you’ll be able to track when you eat them.
  • Limiting yourself to working on one creative project at a time. If you’re an artist, channel your energies into a single piece or song until it reaches a level of completion that you’re satisfied with before you move onto the next.

Whenever possible, start with small, specific tasks for yourself, or break down larger tasks into manageable parts. Forcing yourself to multitask, or allowing room for distractions in your plans, is never a good idea.


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