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Achieving Your Goals: The Ripple Effect of Each Small Action

Apr 21, 2020

Hi!  It's Karen from Karen Vincent Solutions

Some people suggest that we make 35,000 decisions per day.  While that does seem like a lot to me, I do know that we make many, many decisions each day. Some of our decisions require a lot of thought and intention however, many are made while we are running on autopilot. 

What is important to remember is that each decision has a consequence.  Some large and some seemingly inconsequential…but are they really inconsequential?  The reality is, the decisions and actions we take each day either move us towards our goals, or away from them and often we are not even aware of this. 

We are also often not aware of the ripple effect of our small actions because when they are small, we don’t have any noticeable consequences or results…until one day…we do.  All the sudden we realize we gained ten, twenty, thirty pounds but we don’t know how we got there.  All the sudden we realize that our relationship is at risk because we have not been as focused on it or giving our partner the time and affection that they deserve. 

Or on the other side, all the sudden we realize we have the extra money we need to take our dream vacation because we cut back on spending a little at a time.  Or all the sudden we realize how much more connected we feel to our partner because we started listening to them more and acknowledging appreciation for the little things they do.  Or all the sudden we lost ten pounds because we cut back just a little on how much food we were consuming. 

How do you eat and elephant?  The answer is one bite at a time.  One little action will move you towards your ultimate goal (or away from it), even if you don’t notice a difference today, tomorrow, this week or this month.  Consistency and persistence are critical when pursuing goals and for getting what we want out of life. We are what we repeatedly do over time.  If we start small and stay consistent, the results build over time.  These results that build over time will end up working for us or against us. 

Let’s walk through an example of actions working against us.  Sarah decides to buy some ice cream so she can have a snack after dinner on the weekends as a treat for getting through a busy week.  The next week, did she gain ten pounds?  Likely not, so she tells herself that there is no harm in this behavior. 

The next weekend rolls around and she does the same and maybe even adds a little chocolate syrup to the ice cream.  The following week, did she gain a bunch of weight? Likely not so she continues with this new pattern of behavior.  What likely happens, however, is that she no longer gets the same gratification from what she is eating so she ups the ante a little.

Maybe Sarah starts snacking on weeknights also or adds a cookie to go with her ice cream.  Maybe she did notice that she gained a couple of pounds so she decided to not step on the scale the next week, telling herself that she would take a couple of weeks and cut back to make sure she was not gaining weight.  Perhaps now that she is eating a sugary snack multiple times per week after work, she is not sleeping as well as she used to. 

When people are tired, that is often a time when they make poor food choices so maybe now, she has an extra can of soda during the day or a chocolate bar mid-afternoon to keep her energy up.  Fast forward a few months and Sarah is twenty pounds heavier, lacks the energy she used to have and feels overwhelmed by what she will need to do in order to get back to where she used to be. 

Do you see how one initial action with seemingly no impact, becomes a behavior pattern (The Ripple Effect) that has significant consequences?  Now let’s look at a positive Ripple Effect. 

Let’s say Kim wants to advance her career and have people take notice of her as someone who should be promoted.  She knows she needs to be a high producer in order to get noticed.  She decides that in order to make sure she is more productive than others, she will start to get to work ten minutes earlier to organize her day and already be started as others are coming in the door, getting coffee and settling in. 

This extra ten minutes per day, times five days per week automatically gives her almost an extra hour to be productive each week.  She also decides that she will listen to podcasts on the way to work that will focus on productivity and time management so that we can further sharpen her skills. 

About a month later, the project she had due in two weeks is done a week ahead of time because she had an extra fifty minutes to work on it the prior week and she managed her time efficiently.  Because Kim is ahead of schedule, she offers to help when her boss needs someone to pitch in on another project that is running behind. 

Once again, she gets her part done ahead of schedule and is feeling good about the work she is producing and the positive feedback she is receiving from her boss.  Her confidence goes up and she begins being a bit more vocal in staff meetings, offering suggestions and offering to help when there are things to be done. 

Kim’s boss sees her as a leader within the team because of the example she sets with her productivity and the ideas she brings to the team.  Eight months later, Sarah’s company wins a new, large contract and she is promoted to a management position where she will lead the team supporting this new contract. 

The small behavior changes of getting to work ten minutes earlier and listing to podcasts focused on productivity and time management started a Ripple Effect, that resulted in Kim reaching her ultimate goal of getting a promotion. 

When we are intentional about the decisions we make each day, we can create positive changes in our life ongoing.  We take control and avoid falling victim to life happening “to us”.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen and go through the exercise below to map out a goal you want to achieve along with a plan to stick with it, even when it feels hard.

How to create the Ripple Effect to achieving one of your goals.

  • What is a goal that you want to achieve but have been unable to up until this point?
  • Why do you want to achieve this goal? Be intentional here – what is it that has this goal on your mind and what will it look like and feel like when you achieve it?
  • What is one small action you can begin taking today that will start to inch you towards your goal?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being all in), how committed are you to taking this action consistently…even when you don’t want to? If you are not close to a 10, go back to the second bullet point and dig deeper.  Your why is what will help you keep your eye on the prize. 
  • Make a list of 5-10 empowering thoughts that will help you take action consistently and persistently, even when it feels hard or you don’t want to, so that the Ripple Effect stays in play and you achieve your goal. Have empowering thoughts that really resonate with you. Examples of empowering thoughts to help getting you thinking about what works for you are:
    • I can be comfortable with something being uncomfortable.
    • Did my best self show up today?
    • How badly do I want this?
    • I can do hard things.
    • Every day I am moving closer to the future I want.
    • If it does not challenge me, it will not change me.
    • I am the product of the actions I take every day.
    • I am not someone who quits on my dreams.
    • Every day I am casting a stone into the water and trusting the ripples are bringing me closer to my goal.

You can do this.  I believe in you.  Stop stopping and starting over and remember…slow and steady always wins the race. 

Live your best Boss Lady life!

~ Karen

Karen Vincent Solutions

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