11 Ways to Make Big Change With Small Steps

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11 ways to make big change with small stepsSmall goals, when taken seriously and applied consistently, create significant change.

The standard behavior is to start out with the intent of doing something big, work for two weeks, fizzle out, and go back to wishing for more. What if you started with the intent of doing something small instead?

What’s the least you need to earn to break free? What’s the smallest step forward that you could take today?¬†What is a tiny barrier you can remove to make progress?

You don’t need millions of dollars in funding to start working for yourself. You don’t need to get a promotion to become respected in your office. You don’t need to learn from a master to become a better negotiator.

You just need to begin taking small steps.

Have a corporate job?

What is a small step you can take to make sure that your boss loves you? What is a tiny thing that people one level above you are doing that you’re not? What is one thing you can do to over-prepare for your next meeting? How can you build up your co-workers and develop friendships?

4 ideas you can use right now:

  1. Email a senior executive and ask them out to lunch. Talk to them about how they got to where they are. What did they do right? What mistakes did they make? Spend most of the time listening. At the end ask them what they would do if they were in your position right now? How would they climb the corporate ladder/get a raise/make a good impression on their boss?
  2. Compliment a co-worker for a brilliant comment they made, a presentation they gave, or a smart suggestion they offered. Encourage them to talk more about themselves and focus on supporting what’s right instead of criticizing what’s wrong.
  3. Will you cross paths with a senior member of your company soon? Do 15 minutes of research on him or her. Send an email to a friend that has met them before. Find out what they are like. Use this information to deliver a super-friendly and personal introduction when you meet them.
  4. Ask your co-workers for short testimonials of good work you’ve done on projects — or better, swipe a few complimentary lines from emails that they have sent you. Put these compliments into a PowerPoint presentation and show it to your boss at your next performance review. Asking for a raise is easy when you have proof of your value.

Work for yourself?

What is a single action that you can do to bring more money in the door? Is there one person you can contact that could land you 5 new clients? What is a small thing you’ve been waiting to do to promote your business?

4 ideas you can use right now:

  1. Write down the three most beneficial business moves you have made in the last 3 months. Can you do one of those things right now? Tip: If it didn’t bring money in, then it’s not beneficial.
  2. Email your previous clients and ask for testimonials. Put them on your sales page. Put them in your emails. Put one on your business card.
  3. Show your customers that you love them. Send them a link to a relevant article that you enjoyed. Offer any customer that has been with you over 6 months/2 years/5 years a one-time discount for their loyalty.
  4. If you freelance, then send your current clients an email detailing what you accomplished last week and what you plan to do next week. Do this every Friday. Talk about a small step that will make your clients want you to hire you again.

Want to start your own business?

What’s the least you need to earn to leave your day job? What’s the first thing you can do to take you a step closer to freedom? Who is one person you could talk to that can help you?

3 ideas you can use right now:

  1. Brainstorm a list of ideas for possible businesses. Email a group of ten friends and ask them for honest feedback. You can take all of the pressure off, “Hey guys, I’m kicking around some crazy ideas for a side project, but I’m not sure which ones are any good. Could you give me some initial feedback? I’m interested in all of them, but not attached to any of them, so be honest. I really want to know if people think an idea is good or bad before I start working on it.”
  2. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Write out a list of things you need to do to make money. Spend 10 minutes figuring out how to do one of them.
  3. Spend 30 minutes learning about something you can use right away. Starting an online business? Maybe you need to know how most people make money online or how to design an ebook or how to build an email list. Starting a brick-and-mortar shop? Maybe you need to learn about building codes and zoning restrictions or about print media options for your business or how direct mail marketing works.

What is the least you can do today?

What is the smallest step you can take today towards your goals? What is something simple and actionable that you can do right now?

Do that.

Then take another tiny step tomorrow.

7 Responses to 11 Ways to Make Big Change With Small Steps

  1. Wilson Usman says:

    Great ideas from a smart man here…

    The least someone can do right now is start an online business they’re extremely passionate about, or a blog just to get familiar with the web.

    I did this about two years ago and it’s starting to come along pretty well.

    • James Clear says:

      Thanks Wilson.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying what you’re reading here. Let me know what else you would love to read about.

  2. Delena says:

    I love this! And there are some great ideas here I hadn’t thought of, either.

    For starters, I set up a blog and am commenting on other blogs in my niche, establishing a presence and building my reputation. I also have a Facebook fan page that I’m working on, and small low-cost downloadable content that I can write right now.

    I’m also a freelance writer, but as I only have one client, he already knows everything I’ve been up to and plan for next week. However, I am always on the lookout for more clients!

    Thanks for this!

  3. These small steps will help us to have a big chance to achieve our goals. Thanks for sharing

  4. I just love this. It’s so counter-intuitive in our gotta-have-it-now-success just like blogger x or business owner y.

    The trap the I fall into is, yah, that’s what I want. But how the heck do I get there? Oh, I’ll read or listen or research or, you name it. Inevitably the answer doesn’t appear, as the busyness of the search for the elusive becomes the activity … instead of the actionable step on the path.

    So guilty of this.

    What really works for me here though is that it reduces the fear of “what’s the big step that’ll get me there” to “what’s the absolute next smallest step ever that I can take right at this moment.” Takes the energy off the focus on the assumed end goal and puts it onto an easy, let’s-get-a-sense-of-accomplishment feeling in place that then feeds on itself.


  5. BTW, I forgot to mention that I just started using this:

    “…send your current clients an email detailing what you accomplished last week and what you plan to do next week. Do this every Friday.”

    I’ve wondered how I can present my worth to my clients in an unobtrusive way? This is it I believe. Over time they can see very easily a growing list of the activity, appearance, growth.

  6. Liz says:

    Great post, James. So often just taking a baby step forward makes much more of an impact than over analyzing. Plus, you never know what opportunities might pop up if you take some of these steps.

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