Small Actions are More Important Than You May Think

It has been a really hectic day (my first day back in the office after a small holiday) and I had every excuse lined up for why I wasn’t going to post today.

And then I remembered something I read in the INCREDIBLE book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear (seriously, one of the most valuable books I’ve ever read).

He suggests that everyone is way too ‘all or nothing’ with any habit they’re trying to adopt. We set the benchmark at “do it perfectly, or don’t bother”. But that isn’t quite how the brain works, and this mentality is why people struggle to change their behaviours over the long term.

To illustrate what does work, he uses the analogy of your brain being like a voting system. Every time you perform part of a habit, big or small, you send a vote to your brain that this is the type of person you are. The more votes you make, the more evidence you have to reinforce this belief. So over time, your habits become your identity – which is a far more powerful tool than self-control ever will be.

If I want to build a habit of writing LinkedIn posts like this on most days, it’s so much better to do a small post or a sub-par one than no post at all. Because it sends my brain the message that no matter how much life gets in the way, writing is important to me and so I will write. And if I write enough times, I start to believe that I’m a writer. And writers write (right?). So I then keep writing.

So thanks for helping me reinforce this particular habit today.

But also, if there’s a habit you are trying to build in your own life, how can you break it down into a small piece and do that thing in the next 10 minutes? Or before you go to bed tonight? Or while someone is running late for your next Zoom meeting?

Every action (or inaction) is a vote towards the type of person you will eventually become.

Choose small, seemingly insignificant progress over the illusion of perfection.