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Lasting Change = Small Daily Steps

A little sign hangs in my office to remind me of something I forget with remarkable skill and consistency.

I can't remember if I got this principle from someone else or actually coined it myself. Either way, it reminds me that small steps taken every day produce enormous and lasting change. (If I owe credit for this insight to someone else, my sincere apologies.)

You see, I have this well-honed capacity to believe that a big short-term push, an inspiring new idea, a good intention, or even a grand gesture, will break the power of inertia and create momentum for significant change. The truth is quite the opposite. The consistent progress and pressure of one step after another creates new habits, a new way of life, a shift in culture, and new stories. The stuff of real progress. The fruit of change we long for.

Take the obvious challenges of getting in shape or losing weight. You don’t reach the finish line on day one. You take step one on day one. Then you follow that first step with another small step each day after the first one. If on day 287 you are still taking small daily steps, I guarantee you are experiencing a whole new day.

It’s the same with building team culture, shaping organizational momentum, or achieving any form of personal goals. An emotionally driven dramatic effort on one day doesn’t change anything really. The consistent application of new behavior and new patterns every day will change everything over time. (OK, the supernatural intervention of God would get it done, too. But, even after God’s intervention we need to live into this new reality every day.)

This morning I was thinking about the things I have learned—and forgotten, and re-learned—about the daily rhythms my soul needs to thrive. For me, I’d say it this way, I literally need a daily sabbatical.

That is, every day I need to take some time where I withdraw from the tentacles of technology, the tasks on my to do list, and demands of people in order to draw into solitude with God, reading, and writing. I don’t need to do it now and then. I need a daily sabbatical everyday if I am going to successfully live the life I was meant for.

What goals are you working on these days? Whether they are internal formation or external accomplishment, the most important piece of your plans is becoming clear about the single flywheel turning effort you need to make every day. The future you long for is within reach if you take one tangible step toward it today. Tomorrow.

I’m curious. What is the future you dream of and are working toward? What is one baby step you need to take today, everyday, to make the daily progress that will lead you to the finish line?

I'd love to hear what you are working on and how this works for you.

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