Have you thought about changing your career but felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the task? If so, you’re not alone. We all have a variety of goals and ambitions, but it can be hard to find the motivation to get started when the end result seems like an insurmountable feat.
But sometimes, the way forward isn’t made in leaps and bounds. It’s made one tiny, consistent action at a time. That’s where the power of microsteps comes in.
Microsteps are small, actionable steps that take only a few minutes, or even seconds, to complete. Arianna Huffington, the founder of Thrive Global, talks a lot about microsteps, and I’m a huge fan of this philosophy.
Microstepping is not just the practice I use with my clients, it’s one I use myself. I’ve used it for every career change or project (including designing my own business)—and it always works.
According to research, trying to make big shifts into new lifestyles fails almost 90% of the time. When that happens, we often do the same old thing: beat ourselves up for not having enough willpower.
But it turns out: Willpower is overrated.
Studies have shown that you can’t willpower your way into a big change. Instead, willpower functions more like a muscle that has to be built up over time.
Sure, willpower can be a game-changer, but to strengthen that willpower muscle, you’re going to have to work it out daily.
Big names in business, like Oprah and Arianna Huffington, swear by the power of microsteps. The concept is simple: Instead of taking one big action, like starting a business or running a marathon, break it down into smaller, more achievable microsteps.
For example, if your goal is to launch a business, you could break it down into tasks like writing a business plan, doing research, and talking to potential customers. No matter how small your tiny actions get, it’s the act of doing them that’s going to keep you motivated and on track.
In fact, many experts argue, when it comes to microsteps, the smaller, the better.
According to BJ Fogg, Ph.D., a behavior change researcher at Stanford University, the key to microstepping success lies in making the “minimum viable effort”—going as small as you can. “Make it tiny, even ridiculous,” he says. “A good tiny behavior is easy to do—and fast.”
Even 5 minutes fast.
The evidence is all around us: With the right strategies and mindset, you can achieve anything. All you have to do is figure out what microsteps you need to take and then follow through to accomplish any big goal.
Here’s the process to follow.
Begin by breaking your big, scary goal down into small, manageable tasks. The trick is to find out which microsteps will help you reach your goals and keep you motivated, so make a list. The more microsteps you can think of, the better.
Start taking small steps toward your goal by focusing on just one microstep each day. Keep track of your progress with a habit tracker, so you ensure you’re maintaining consistency. (SUPER important! Read more about that below.)
According to Harvard researchers, each time you reach a mini milestone, you’re likely to receive a big dose of dopamine. For most of us, that intrinsic reward is enough to keep us motivated. But if you also need an extrinsic reward to keep yourself motivated, go for it! Give yourself rewards and celebrate your successes, no matter how small.
I want to be clear here: Consistency is a BIG part of successful microstepping.
It’s the consistency that is scientifically proven to yield big results in the long run. Microsteps simply aid in helping you remain consistent. With the right approach, you can make progress toward your goals without having to spend hours and hours on them.
Start with 5 minutes of your time.
Prioritizing your well-being and making a career change can be hard to do, but committing to 5 minutes is totally doable. 5 Minutes To Flourish is a time management hack many of my community members have used to gain momentum when making their career changes, and the process is easy! All you have to do is set your timer for 5 minutes and focus on performing one task that will make your career change happen.
When the timer goes off, decide if you want to keep going for another 5 minutes. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t—or can’t. No matter what you decide to do next, acknowledge that you did one small thing your future self will thank you for.
If you’d like to read more about the science and power behind microsteps, here are the books I rave about and recommend most often:
This is pretty much the microstep bible. In this book, Khidekel advocates for making our microstep “too small to fail” with plenty of science and anecdotes to back up her claims.
This book goes into the brain’s built-in resistance to new behaviors and WHY we procrastinate. The psychology behind why we can rely on small steps and micro-commitments to accomplish goals is fascinating.
Packed with easy-to-read info, charts, and real-life examples, this book is for the die-hard microstep nerds. *raises hand and looks around the room*
5 Minutes To Flourish—Get The FREE Download!
Activating the power of microsteps is a great way to achieve your goals and realize your full potential—and our popular “5 Minutes To Flourish” downloadable guide is the place to start.
Inside, you’ll find simple ways to nourish your body, mind, and spirit—in as little as 5 minutes a day.
Flourish Careers is a career coaching and consulting business dedicated to helping individuals and small businesses find their unique path to flourishing professional success. Learn more about how we can help you here.