We’ve all tried to change our behaviour. Whether it’s breaking a bad habit, adopting a healthier lifestyle, or developing new skills, our pursuit of change reflects our very human desire to adapt and evolve.
But, when we think about change, we can make the mistake of believing it only happens in “leaps and bounds”. How often have you heard “go big or go home”, and bought into it as the only way to achieve anything that’s actually worth achieving?
It’s easy to fall into this trap. We assume that unless we achieve those huge leaps – those waves of progress – we are failing. However, this is not the cause of our stagnation. We stagnate because we are focusing on the result rather than the process itself.
Continuous improvement is a commitment that we make to ourselves. We begin by slowly introducing minor changes into our daily lives, because we believe that taking onboard these gradual changes will result in lasting behaviour change. (1) This is how new habits take root, and it’s through this process that even the loftiest of goals can be realised for good!
It’s true – your 1% improvement might not make immediate headlines, but the endurance and the value they can add becomes evident when you look back at where you began, and how far you’ve come.
How do we get started?
First, let’s rethink our path of behaviour change as a process of continuous improvement. Instead of a big wave that stops suddenly at the shoreline, our journey should steadily erode the behaviours that don’t serve us anymore. We need to keep pushing these small improvements into our daily habits, forming lasting change. Here’s how!
Set Clear Goals
Define specific and achievable goals for different areas of your life. These could be related to health, career, relationships, skills, or personal development. Clear goals provide direction and purpose for your daily efforts. Read our blog on how to set S.M.A.R.T goals here.
Identify the Current Behaviour Block
Seek to understand the current behaviour or habit that is a part of you, but is getting in the way of achieving your goal. It needs to be small and specific. For example: I scroll through my phone on social media when I get into bed, rather than going to sleep.
Do Something Differently
Decide what specific behaviour you will need to change to move you toward your goal. What do you need to do differently today that will create the momentum needed for you to succeed? (Tip: Try to pick something that is really small but could make a big difference. For example: I need to put my mobile phone away when I walk in the door from work so I can be present for my family.)
Consistency is key. Commit to taking those small actions every day. Focus on making them a part of your routine, like brushing your teeth. Over time, these consistent efforts will compound into meaningful progress.
Start the day with a small focus for what you want to do differently, and think about how you will feel once it’s completed. Harvard Business Review found that 92% of highly productive people follow planned morning routines, explaining, “Being productive is not about doing more, but about doing things in an efficient manner.” (2)
Review and Reflect
Regularly review your progress. Set aside time daily or weekly to reflect on the actions you’ve taken and the results you’ve achieved. This self-awareness helps you stay on track and make necessary adjustments.
Be Open to Learning
Be open to learning something new. Whether it’s reading a book, watching educational videos, or taking short online courses, this commitment to doing a tiny bit of learning contributes to your growth.
Short, focused bursts of learning, known as microlearning, are gaining popularity. According to a report by Training Industry, 78% of organisations use microlearning, recognising its effectiveness in meeting the needs of modern learners. (3)
Celebrate Small Wins
Acknowledge and celebrate your daily achievements, no matter how small they seem. Positive reinforcement encourages you to keep going and boosts your motivation. There will be good days and bad days, some weeks of progress and others of none, but don’t give up! Gradual sustainable change is a long-term game. Be okay with small setbacks. Just reset your focus for next week.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. A growth mindset encourages you to view setbacks as stepping stones toward improvement. Read our blog on the benefits of developing a growth mindset here.
As we journey through personal growth, let’s change how we think. Instead of seeking instant gratification, let’s value ongoing improvement and prioritising our own personal development.
By taking purposeful actions every day, putting in consistent effort, and staying dedicated to growth, we start a meaningful journey. This journey isn’t about world-shifting achievements, but instead focuses on the steady, lasting changes, that shape our best selves.
Remember, it’s not about going big, but about becoming consistent – evolving by one small, purposeful step at a time. Good luck!
- Clear, J. (2018). Continuous Improvement. James Clear.
- Babcock, J. (2023) The most productive people follow daily routines, here’s why, Leaders.com. Available at: https://leaders.com/articles/leadership/daily-routine/
- Carmichael, P. and Johnston, S. (2022) Microlearning: An advantageous and effective training method, Training Industry. Available at: https://trainingindustry.com/articles/content-development/microlearning-an-advantageous-and-effective-training-method/