This year, one adjustment I am making is to focus my time and energy on the small things that I can do on a daily basis. These small things are the next actions or daily habits that will likely take me to where I want to be at some time in the distant future.
This is all based on the truth that small things done consistently will have a great impact over some longer period of time.
Most great things take many steps and many actions that we do daily or regularly. Very rarely, does someone achieve something grand by taking only one step or even doing one thing. It requires many many small steps and actions, compiled together over a period of time, to achieve great things.
I have had a lot of goals in my life that I have not achieved yet or have taken way longer with less than ideal results. As I’m continually learning from these failures or mistakes, this concept of regular or daily small actions that are the key to most successes is where I believe I’ve missed the boat. When I unpack how I missed this daily application, I have found I spend too much time in my head thinking about what I hope will come at some point in the future. Whether that is more financial freedom or more weight loss, I have wasted my time and energy daydreaming what might come to be and not enough time on revising my daily actions to achieve that.
Now, in all honesty, this idea is not something that I didn’t know was important before. I just didn’t really know or accept that it was the most important component to achieving long term goals. My biggest failure for many things is that I haven’t focused my effort and plans around this key concept. I spent more time trying to learn the whole process rather learning the few steps and then taking them while I learn the steps to come after that.
Let’s look at others have applied this on some common goals for most people.
Let’s say we want to become a millionaire. A good best practice is to learn from others who have done it before you, right? So what do most millionaires have in common that we can try to emulate? Or more specifically, what are the common habits that millionaires have done to get to where they are today?
Dave Ramsey has done something recently on his radio show that gives us some insights to help us answer this very question.
The large majority of millionaires that he has interviewed on his show are regular folks, usually with regular jobs. But when you dig into the common habits, they all have consistently, over a long period of time, usually many decades, live below their means, save some of the difference, and invest it. Most are not doctors or entrepreneurs with an amazing startup business idea or extreme income. They are pretty regular folks consistently put some discipline around their spending, saving, and investing habits. Doing that over decades built them wealth to become millionaires.
Living below our means is a daily habit. You have to make regular choices to track your spending, pack your lunch for work, and often delay gratification. Sometimes you wait an extra year to buy a newer car and when you do, it’s a used car.
The key is that becoming a millionaire for most people was not a one time event like selling a brilliant invention or winning the lottery. It was daily spending habits done over decades.
You could apply this analysis to people who are in great shape as well. They achieved that because of a daily habit of putting a reasonable amount of healthy food into their body and get enough exercise over a long period of time. They choose to regularly eat the right foods, avoid junk foods, and commit to small but regular doses of the appropriate exercise.
We all have dreams in our lives and seek growth. Starting small, and really putting a focus on the next tangible action that you can do right now to achieve that is where our time and energy should be spent.