Think of the biggest accomplishments you've had in your life; getting hired for that dream job, overcoming a huge hurdle, starting a family, or running a successful business. It was a pretty big decision to say “yes” to that job offer, to changing your life for the better, to growing your family or to risk in return for a successful business. But was it actually just one big decision?
Or rather is your destination simply the sum of its parts?
We are constantly making decisions in our life; when to wake up, what to wear, which foods to eat, what to work on, who to speak to, who not to speak to, etc. and so on. You’re always in “decision-making mode”, even if the decision you’re about to make seems insignificant or seemingly unconscious. But ask yourself, is this small decision actually insignificant or is it a fork in the road of my life journey? And will the compound effect of all of the resulting decisions veer me off in a direction far from where I originally intended to go?
Allow me to tease this out: If I want to go to Paris but I am one degree off from my trajectory, that one degree will veer me so off course that I will end up nowhere near my intended destination. The inverse is just as true. One small decision I make towards a goal, compounded every day over time, will lead me to other small decisions that eventually will get me to my intended goal.
The small decisions you make every day are always leading you further in a particular direction. Do you know where your every day small decisions are leading you? Because every day you make countless decisions that are leading you to this moment.
The fact is, a lot of us wait for significant life events to kick start life-changing decisions. Whether that's New Year’s Day, a reunion, or a big trip, we seem to think we need these occasions to create a “game changer.” But you don't need to wait for significant life events to make life -changing decisions. You can start now by making small changes. Here are three simple rules to live by that can trigger huge shifts in your life.
1. Small life changes produce big results
It doesn’t have to take a big trip or an occasion to fire up personal innovation. Committing to small changes can create momentum to affect your lifestyle and overall well-being. My first year in New York I had a part-time job at a fashion house that treated their employees terribly. I felt devalued, overworked and under-payed. It wore on me physically, mentally and emotionally. I knew this situation was not fulfilling in nearly every way. So I chose to leave that position to pursue what I had always wanted to do, which was theatre. Not only did I end up getting my dream role (a part in the national tour of Les Miserables!) but I got to also fulfill a huge passion of mine which was travel.
2. Two words: Self-actualization
Self-actualization is the key to finding meaning and purpose in your life. Self-actualizing is the act of finding your full potential by living a life that is meaningful – intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Research states that when someone’s life differs from their true nature and capabilities, they tend to be less happy than people who have lives and goals that harmonize (1). For instance, if you’re passionate about helping children and teaching in schools you won’t be matching your full potential as a banker. Creating significant changes will happen over time if you strive for the best while being your most authentic self.
3. Letting go of old habits
Sometimes the road to better health is as simple as trading in one cup of coffee for a glass of water. Or walking around the block instead of buying a candy bar. The fact is, we make choices due to convenience – maintaining relationships that are toxic, careers we aren’t appreciated in and behaviors that don’t serve us. Whatever may be holding you back, begin to let go of that habit and start replacing them with ones that move you towards the direction of your real desire. It may not be all at once, but taking small strides every day that are in alignment with your path will have enormous consequences.
You never need an excuse to create life changes since you have the potential to start today. Don’t forget that it doesn’t have to be big life decisions or events that create an impact – what we do day-by-day makes a big difference. It’s crazy to think that seemingly small actions would create such traction, but in life it really is about the little things we do every day.