#MTtalk: Small Choices, Big Changes » Mind Tools Blog

#MTtalk: Small Choices, Big Changes

November 14, 2017

An Unwanted Crop

Imagine that a farmer wakes up one morning to find that his crop of tomatoes has mysteriously transformed into chilli peppers!

Unlikely, isn’t it? It means that he would have had to have bought chilli seeds instead of tomato seeds by mistake and then not paid any attention to what happened after planting.

But, for the sake of our hypothesis, if you had to give the farmer advice for his future, then you’d likely tell him that he should be a little more careful and to make sure to choose the right seeds before sowing them.

Now, imagine your current life as your crop. Are things going the way you’d like them to? Is your bank account in the state you want it to be? How’s your weight and your physical fitness?

Doing Something Differently

An undesirable harvest happens one day at a time and one small choice at a time. You don’t link your current weight problem to the donut you had six months ago. Choosing to eat the donut seemed inconsequential at the time, and it wasn’t that specific donut that caused you to gain 15 pounds. However, your small choices accumulate over time to produce a significant result.

If we know we should be doing something differently, why do we make the same mistake repeatedly? It’s because we fail to look at our small choices from a long-term perspective. They’re small, and they won’t make a major difference to anything right now, so we tend to choose from a short-term perspective.

If we could see on a chart or graph how each small choice contributed to a result over a period of time, the reality of their effect would become more real. Because we don’t have charts and graphs for this, it’s necessary to visualize the long-term impact of small choices. Once you get into the habit to think of small decisions from a long-term perspective, you’ll probably make much better small choices from moment to moment.

Small Choices, Big Changes

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!

The Small Choices We Make

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.

More Energy Tomorrow

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.

Next time, on #MTtalk…

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:

Club Members:

Non-Club Members:

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