Hello, friends! As you know, I’m taking a couple weeks off post-surgery. The good news: my friend Anthony is taking over the blog this week. Enjoy this post, say hi to Anthony and I’ll see you next Monday! xo
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” – Ovid
It has only been a few years since my minimalism journey began, but so much has changed since then. After compiling four years of Amazon transactions, I discovered how in small increments of $20 purchases, my impulsive spending was holding me back from the lifestyle I had always wanted. I dreamed of traveling, location flexibility, and spending more time working on passion projects, but my frequent purchases kept me chasing credit card bills at the end of every month.
To make sure I created a solid change in my life, I pledged to travel somewhere every month in 2015 by cutting the Amazon spending and living more intentionally. Having this commitment ensured that I stuck to my guns on buying less and experiencing more. After successfully completing that challenge, the impact of what we do every single day really hit home. While each day may seem insignificant, after months and years the individual actions ended up making a massive impact on my life.
With a particular vision in mind, I was able to focus my energy on looking for bargain flights, travel hacks, and any opportunity to visit a friend or family member that I could find. It helped me realize that when I had one overall goal in mind, I could spend a little bit of time each day doing some research, or looking for the right opportunities to make it real. Those small daily tasks ended up making a rather large and daunting task very possible.
The real kicker was that I actually spent less money on traveling 12 times than I had on online shopping the year prior. I managed to do that, and still save almost 20% of my income for the year. How’s that for a wake up call?
The unfortunate part is that it took years of spending for me to finally see the damage that was being done. When a storm comes through and destroys a house, the devastating damage is easy to see. When the damage is done slowly over time, however, that same house may nearly fall to the ground before being noticed.
Once all the damage was done and totalled, it was obvious. Looking at that cumulative sum is hard to deny—but day-to-day, it didn’t seem like a big deal.
After reflecting on my 2015 achievements, what I needed to do going forward became crystal clear. I could utilize the same strategy that previously created so much financial harm, but for a positive outcome. Now, I would take the small actions I did every day and ensure that they were moving me forward towards my goals.
We are, after all, what we do every day.
For 2016, I decided on a new direction and formulated a way to break it down into small daily actions. For example, I wanted to read more books, so I decided to read 20 pages per day until I finished each book from start-to-finish. In order to improve my writing, I committed to writing 500 words per day for the year. Although seemingly small, that adds up to over 7,300 pages (over 30 books) read and 182,000 words (2-3 books) written in 2016.
It hasn’t even been two months and I’ve already started seeing the benefits of these daily actions. I’ve crossed more books off my reading list than I had in six months prior. I’ve written tens of thousands of words that, while many will never see the light of day, are helping me become a more consistent writer.
The best part of this, is that these same principles can be applied to every area of life, from health and fitness to savings accounts. Can you imagine if I had simply been saving those small daily Amazon purchases instead of spending it?
With that in mind, here are some things to consider while on your own journey to make each day a small victory that adds up to long-term success.
If you don’t have much time or energy, do the smallest thing you can that gets you moving in the right direction. Even reading a single page of a book, or paying off $1 of credit card debt is forward momentum. The only goal is to make today one small step further along than yesterday. By making this small effort consistently, you’ll build a foundation of success and be more likely to continue the habit in the future. This creates a psychological investment in the action, and reduces the effort required to continue doing so going forward.
When starting to implement positive changes, pick just one thing to focus on every day. There are so many different ways we can improve ourselves that trying to do everything at once can be incredibly overwhelming. There is plenty of time to build all the good habits you’d like—the most important thing is that you start with just one. Pick one small thing and make sure you do it consistently every single day. After a week or two, consider adding to another.
Celebrate action, not results. Sometimes results come quickly, other times it can seem to take an eternity. What’s important is that you celebrate the fact that you succeeded in doing the small task every single day. Trust me, if you’re consistent in your effort, the results will come through. The true victory is in daily action towards your long-term goals.
While we can’t change the past, the best we can do is change how we spend our time going forward. With that in mind, consider what things you do every day that might be working against you, and which things might be moving you in the right direction. Each day is an opportunity to correct the course and continue heading towards the lives we’ve imagined.