Small wins are mini-milestones, progress points if you will, on your way to a bigger goal.
Breaking down a large goal into small wins makes it easier to stick to your plan. Plus, it’s easier to recognize and appreciate progress.
The power of progress to motivate behavior is fundamental to human nature. Your brain lights up reward pathways when it detects progress.
A series of small wins builds on itself. It inspires perseverance, motivation, and confidence. It diminishes resistance to sustained effort.
Yet, when we decide to go after a great big intimidating goal like a significant weight loss, it’s not always easy to know how to leverage the power of small wins.
So many of us reading this post have a long history of yo-yo dieting.
If you were anything like me, you have a long history of jumping into a new weight loss strategy with guns ablazin’. One hundred percent all in. This time will be different. I can do this.
Inevitably, you hit the “messy middle.” That’s when following your plan gets boring, frustrating or so much harder than you anticipated.
Can you recall that sad, sinking feeling that seeps into your soul when the initial surge of motivation begins to subside? I sure can.
Each time that happened to me, I could feel my emotional balloon of enthusiasm deflate and shrivel into a wrinkled blob of discouragement and disappointment.
Then, my old eating habits would come roaring back. And my harsh inner critic had plenty to say about yet another failure.
Small wins break complex goals into more manageable pieces.
Something HUGE changed for me in the Spring of 2018 when I started to put all the pieces of the weight loss puzzle together.
One key piece was that I started to employ the power of small wins to make continuous progress toward my weight loss goals easier.
Small wins helped me stay focused on my larger goal while minimizing the overwhelming fear of making massive change. Just one step at a time in the direction of my goal and within months I arrived.
That’s why I want to explore this useful tool with you today.
You too can benefit from planning small wins. They quickly add up and become those surefire indicators of progress that motivate you to keep going.
A small win is born of a small but specific action.
Each small win = progress. The brain likes this!
Any measurable, incremental progress that aligns with the goals you’ve set qualifies as a “small win.”
John C. Maxwell said:
Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day, lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.
The smaller and easier the action, the better.
The less threatening the better.
Don’t give your reactive brain, you know the part that worries over your safety and survival 24/7, a reason to shift into overdrive.
By itself, one small win may seem insignificant in the BIG picture. But, just like compound interest, the effects of accomplishing each small win build upon each other.
When you focus too much on the bigger goal, it can feel discouraging. Impossibly out of reach.
That’s why smaller wins have out-sized impact. They solidify your daily choice to keep going.
And, they can snowball into the desire to go after even more ambitious goals. Even beyond the realm of weight loss.
So, make weight loss easier by identifying small, nonthreatening actions that are part of reaching your bigger weight loss goal.
When small wins can stack up over time, they become significant markers of progress . Progress leads to greater feelings of happiness. And, in my book, that’s a win-win!
The brain rewards us even for small wins.
When you accomplish something you set out to do, it activates the reward center of your brain.
So, when you achieve one of your mini-milestones, the neurotransmitter dopamine floods you with feel-good emotions. This reinforces your commitment to your larger goal.
Allow yourself more than a minute or two to bask in the dopamine flush of each small win.
Create a small wins action plan.
It’s time to develop an action plan that includes many small wins. Break down every step into it’s tiniest component to rack up as many small wins as possible.
Having an action plan to follow helps reduce stress.
And because the smaller goal is measurable and realistically attainable, you gain feedback faster. You can more easily make course corrections if necessary.
As you stack small wins upon wins, you’re creating a constant source of motivation that quickly builds and sustains confidence.
Track your small wins with pride and share them with others.
Small wins help us track all the incremental steps involved in achieving much larger goals. They provide the road map. They show us how far we’ve come.
Research abounds that supports tracking as an important tool for improvement, generating observations like these:
You can’t improve what you can’t measure.
What you measure improves. What you report to someone else accelerates the rate of improvement exponentially.
Small wins can make you happier.
The following research applied to work situations has cross-over applications to weight loss and motivation.
This study found that large abstract goals are associated with “greater psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression,”
On the other hand, smaller concrete goals have been linked to increased happiness levels.
The way you perceive a goal can make or break your outcome.
By changing the way you think about small wins, you can also work happier. And that applies to weight loss too. Plus, it’s crucial for motivation.
As professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer discovered in a research study outlined in their book The Progress Principle, making meaningful progress is the best motivator.
The researchers found that people consistently underestimated the significance of small events in their workdays.
The majority of events and reactions recorded in the journals were small events, which meant that people missed out on the power of small wins all the time. We’re often unable to gauge the significance of what happens without reflection and review to connect the dots. Your progress is largely made up of small wins, and your happiness is made of small, cumulative bursts.
Small wins for the win!
After you break down the smallest steps to help you achieve your larger goal, learning to acknowledge your small wins takes planning and practice.
- Find a way to stay accountable: Don’t keep your goals, big or small, to yourself. You can share your goals with a friend or spouse or on social media to maintain accountability. It may make it easier to keep working toward your goals knowing that someone else is cheering you on.
- Set achievable mini-milestones: When identifying your small wins, be specific about what exactly you need to do to achieve your weight loss goal. Next, break those steps down into daily or weekly small wins that you indicate progress. Now you know what you need to do to reach your finish line so you can recognize your accomplishments.
- Create a reward system beyond the dopamine hit: Each small win is a worthy victory. Celebrate them! Reward yourself every time you hit a mini-milestone with a nonfood pleasure. If you wait until you’ve reached the end to celebrate, your day-to-day progress may be impacted because it’s harder to recognize the progress you’re making.
Make continuous progress toward your BIG weight loss win by stacking small wins.
I designed the It’s Never Too Late Weight Loss Coaching program to teach you how to identify and plan small wins that will propel you toward your weight loss goal.
Identifying, tracking and celebrating each small win is part of the process that leads to ultimate weight loss success.
Take me up on the FREE Strategy Call I offer.
Find out how you can map out the most effective small wins to pave your path to peace and freedom in your relationship with your body, your weight and food.
Schedule your FREE Strategy Call right here.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
It’s Never too Late to make your weight loss journey easier.