What I Learned About Change From A Walk On The Moon

To begin our adventures in 2013, my wife, Laura, and I took a walk on the moon. Okay, well, not quite. Actually, we visited White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Prior to our exploration of what seemed like another world, we surveyed the exhibits and learned about what makes White Sands so special. We learned that these beautiful gypsum dunes are constantly moving and changing. While some dunes move only a few feet per year, others are making strides of up to 30 feet per year. That just blew me away. The dunes that move the furthest are changing the most and do so as they gain and lose tiny particles of the gypsum every day. It happens little by little.

Dunes of Incremental Change

 

Like the dunes, we can leverage the process of taking small steps daily to achieve bigger results in our lives. This is the power of incremental change. Over the past year, I’ve been building the momentum of incremental change in a few key areas of my own life: (1) Getting out of bed early, (2) Daily Bible reading and (3) Exercising. It has been a struggle, but one that has been completely worth it.

For example, I used to get out of bed leaving myself just enough time to do the absolute essentials and make it to work on time. Believe me, I value my sleep. Using the power of incremental change, I slowly moved back the time I wake up (with some adjustment to bedtime too). Now, I am up at 5:00 AM each day and make progress on a few of my priorities before the busyness of the workday takes over.

Based on my experience, I highly recommend you build momentum through incremental change for 4 major reasons.

  1. Makes Molehills Out of Mountains. Taking this approach will give you a more manageable perspective on your overall goal by helping you focus on the little things. It keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by the overall project or change you are striving for. I can read a few chapters of the Bible each day, but planning to read the entire text in one year is a bit overwhelming.
  2. Mobilizes Daily Discipline. In The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John C. Maxwell wrote, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” I have found this to be true in my own life. When you focus your efforts on daily discipline, you are creating the momentum you need for greater success, one day at a time.
  3. Maximizes Motivation. We are all motivated by progress, learning, change and growth. In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink cited the work of Harvard’s Teresa Amabile who found in her research that the single greatest motivator is “making progress in one’s work.” “The days that people make progress are the days they feel most motivated and engaged,” writes Pink. By focusing on and tracking our daily or weekly progress, it provides us with the levels of motivation we need to continue the journey.
  4. Multiplicity. No, I don’t mean the 1996 comedy, starring Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell. I’m talking about a compounding effect. John Maxwell talks about how the things you do today, will pay off even bigger down the road. The sand dunes may change a few granules at a time, and by the next year or even 5 years, the entire landscape will have shifted. This compounding effect, small things today paying off significantly down the road, can change the trajectory of your growth, relationships, career and more.

When you build momentum through the power of incremental change, you’ll increase your focus on the process, build new routines, increase motivation and see greater results over time. Ultimately you’ll be on your way to pursuing your true potential.

Okay, so now that you are convinced to build momentum to achieve more, consider the areas of your life where you can take advantage of incremental change. I’ve gathered a short list to help start your brainstorm:

  • Weight Loss
  • Stop Smoking
  • Improved Attitude
  • Writing a Blog
  • Reading the Bible
  • Building Strength or Endurance
  • Getting Out of Debt
  • Starting a Business
  • Improving the Performance of Your Team

Got a few ideas? Great!

Next week, I’ll outline 4 essentials to identify that will increase your chances of following through on your goals and even your resolutions.

Links: (posts, books, links, etc.)

Question: What super-sized goal are you going to apply the power of incremental change to? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Please note: I encourage reader discussion, however, I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.