We often hear, “It’s the little things in life that matter.” That small remembrances or thoughtful gestures are what really count, and make the biggest difference in life. Yet, it is easy to get caught up in the “big stuff” — creating a successful business or trying to get that next promotion, finding the perfect partner, being the best parent, building wealth, designing the ideal home, publishing a book, perfecting the body. When attempting to achieve our dreams, the small day-to-day acts of kindness are sometimes quickly dismissed, easily forgotten or completely overlooked. In trying to achieve those soulful aspirations, the people and things we care most about often get ignored, sidelined or even dismissed.
There is nothing wrong with setting out to accomplish great things, but the journey along the way matters, and you might just get there quicker and more graciously by paying attention to the details. It’s like trying to run a marathon. If you have trained slowing and steadily over a period of time, you can achieve it more easily and with less damage to your body that if you just go out and run 26.2 miles the first time.
I believe in doing the small deeds consistently in order to build trust, stay on track, create sustainability and build ultimate success. It’s the cumulative effect of doing small tasks, and it can be used in most life areas, especially in creating healthy relationships with people, your work, your money, your body and your spirituality.
In intimate relationships, people want to feel heard, respected, acknowledged, cared for, appreciated and loved. My clients share with me their desire for love letters from their spouses, as opposed to a big piece of jewelry. They are dazzled by daily “I love you”s, and other kind gestures on a consistent basis. Also, when people do what they say they are going to do and their actions meet their words, then that is what counts in the long run. All of these nurturing deposits into the emotional bank account help to build trust and safety, all based on the small acts of love and affection.
In the workplace, people want to hear about their triumphs and to be recognized in small ways, not just at their annual review. It’s the validating feedback along the way that will synergize and motivate an employee to keep showing up to give their best, not just a bonus or promotion once a year. Even the smallest recognition can change an attitude and brighten someone’s day.
In reaching for a goal such as losing weight, saving money or writing a book, the steady, consistent, purpose of an action builds momentum and eventually leads to success. Slow and steady wins the race, especially when a project is large in scope. For example, when writing a book, it takes many drafts and several hours of dedication to create the final product. Sometimes people look for large blocks of time to get it done. In reality, the accumulation of smaller chunks of time every week allows a successful finish. The same principle applies to saving money. Making smaller persistent investments earlier on will build more wealth than larger deposits inconsistently. It is the regular installments, disciplined action and commitment to the goal that build up a bank account, whether it’s financial or emotional; a full reservoir happens over time.
And finally, faith is built upon a daily practice of spiritual connection and creating a relationship with your Higher Power. By regularly meditating, praying, journaling, reading, worshipping and learning, you are investing in a relationship that will support you and keep you stronger, grounded and more peaceful during the good times and the bad times as well as transition and uncertainty.
Small Acts to Lead to Ultimate Success:
All desires can be achieved by the accumulation of doing the small things. Learn to be giving in kind ways and create your own list of good deeds. Here is a list of “small things” that can make a big difference in others’ lives:
Say please and thank you, genuinely.
Set aside 15-30 minutes each day to work on your dreams.
Practice gratitude daily.
Buy for their preferences, not yours.
Listen actively without fixing.
Give without expecting recognition.
Send handwritten thank you notes.
Pay for the person’s coffee behind you in line.
Send flowers for no reason.
Give it your best.
Be generous with your time, money and energy.
Say you’re sorry when you need to, and make an amends.
Be of service to others first.
Do something uncomfortable or out of your comfort zone for the sake of helping another.
Not only do we achieve our dreams by consistently doing the small things, but we also become better people as well. We are the sum accumulation of all of our experiences, good and bad, big and small, pretty and ugly. Take the opportunity to grow, learn and transform . . . and let nothing be wasted. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
A Coaching Perspective and Exercise:
The accumulative effect will make your vision doable, attainable, peaceful and enjoyable. Feeling like there is success along the way will give you the inspiration to keep going.
What are you investing in?
How are you showing generosity? Kindness? Love?
How does something big and juicy that you long for contribute to your definition of success? What will you get when you get there? In other words, why this goal? Right-size your goal by designing the steps you will need to take in order to attain this while maintaining balance and order. What are the ways in which you are showing up for your dreams? What action steps are you taking on a consistent basis to move forward?
Now, break it down further to only three small tasks per day. With this method of 3 tasks per weekday, that is 15 items per week, 60 per month, 180 per quarter and 720 steps per year you can take to reach your goal. Imagine what 15-20 minutes per day devoted to your vision can do!