Starting today, you decide to walk briskly for 20 minutes a day. Not an hour of running or anything as strenuous as that, but a steady stroll.
You also opt to ditch one cappuccino or "treat" per day, cutting out 100 calories.
Then you realize that you could be spending your time more wisely. So you decide to read personal development literature for 20 minutes each evening, instead of watching TV all night.
You also seem to feel tired a lot of the time, so you decide to go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
All of these actions seem doable, right? You may also think that they're too small to make much difference. Think again…
Even if you were only able to take your 20-minute walk on 250 days of the year, that would still be 83 hours of extra activity in a year. We discussed the benefits of exercise in #MTtalk last week, and we know that moving more has numerous health benefits.
If you walk quickly and you burn 100 calories during that walk, you use an extra 25,000 calories in a year: that's potentially 11 pounds (5kg) in weight loss. If you also save 100 calories a day by cutting out the one treat for 250 out of 365 days, that's another 25,000 calories. It means you could lose 24 pounds (11kg) in one year by doing small things (provided you don't "compensate" by eating more than you usually do).
If you read for 20 minutes every day, you could get through several books per year. Imagine that your reading leads you to start doing things differently, thinking differently, and becoming more successful. Would the 20 minutes be worth it? Absolutely!
We know that sleep is essential and that a lack of it impairs reasoning and problem solving. Scientists recently discovered that, while we sleep, the brain gets rid of neurotoxins that build up during our waking hours. Sleeping for 30 more minutes every night adds three-and-a-half hours' sleep a week, or 182 hours a year. That means you give your brain more chance to cleanse and restore itself.
In our Twitter poll last week, we asked you which small choice you thought would spark the most significant change in your life. Roughly a third of participants said moving more and sitting less. Almost as many participants felt that what they read would make a big difference. To see all the results, click here.
During our #MTtalk Twitter chat last week we spoke about "Small Choices, Big Changes."
Here are all the questions we asked during the chat and some of your responses.
Q1. What's the relationship between small choices and changing habits?
@SanabriaJav That's an interesting question. I think that habits are developed based on the pattern of "small choice" decisions you make.
@TeachFangs The small choices must be held over time for the habit to solidify.
Q2. Which small choices can influence your personal and career growth and development?
@WonderPix Choosing to see the positive, to try something new, believing that you can...can make a big difference.
@SabrinaCadini For me it's about taking care of YOU every day, regardless of your profession – that can have a huge influence on your career.
Q3. What small choices have you made that resulted in big changes?
@tweetgayusri A gratitude feeling every night has changed my mindset totally.
@BiscuitByte I used to constantly worry about clients paying. I now engage someone else to deal with this, to me unpleasant, aspect of the business which frees me up to always be nice with clients and stops me from worrying.
Q4. Why do you think people find it so hard to change their small choices?
@GilchristGeorge Sometimes cultures prevent people from making the small decisions they would like.
@SaifuRizvi I think, we don't want to go out of comfort zone. Change is not easy at first!
Q5. When is it hardest to make a good choice?
@jprofNB When the bad choice is easier to take.
@TwisterKW When tired, depressed, angry, defeated, hungry.
Q6. What lies do we tell ourselves about the small choices we make?
@BrainBlenderTec That it's what is best for us and it will all work out.
@MicheleDD_MT It is just this one time. I’ll make up for it the next time. This is an excuse. Just one time leads to another just one more time.
Q7. In what ways could you support someone who repeatedly makes choices that they know are not good for them?
@FloraBarton Continue to be there for them no matter how challenging things get...people have to make changes for themselves, not for others.
@HirePowerHR That is difficult. Sometimes the only way to change the bad choices one makes is for them to deal with the negative consequences. Just let them know you care about them and always there for support.
Q8. How would you coach/advise someone to make small choices now for big changes later?
@ZalkaB Map out where you'd like to go/be long-term and retrace steps/milestones towards it. Small choices to "what I'd like to see." Make ideation a fun experience.
@SnowinRI Right choices over time greatly improve your odds of a long and healthy life. You can make decisions today that will give you more energy tomorrow for tackling those big changes.
Q9. What daily habit could you adopt that would have the biggest positive impact on your life?
@psychedge01 To remind myself of three positives that I achieved.
@Midgie_MT In addition to the daily meditation practice, reading a book or watching a TED talk.
Q10. How can you motivate yourself to make better small choices?
@Yolande_MT I remind myself to make good choices by being aware that I live in the harvest of previous choices every day. If you want a different outcome, make better choices.
@wordsallowed Small steps are building blocks to major change. They should be taken seriously. Every move counts.
The issue of diversity in the workplace often comes up in conversation. Minority-group voices still aren't always heard and their needs aren't always taken into consideration despite progress in this area over the years. If you're part of a minority group, please vote in our poll over here to let us know which minority.
In our next #MTtalk on Friday, November 24, our topic is "Minorities Matter." To share your thoughts and ideas, please join us at 1 p.m. EDT/ 6 p.m. GMT / 8 p.m. CAT / 11:30 p.m. IST.
To participate in our chat about minorities, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. To join the conversation, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.
In the meantime, here are some resources for both Mind Tools Club members and non-Club members, that will help you learn more about making productive small choices:
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