Small Changes, Big Impacts

Me and Anjali! She's such an inspiration!

Me and Anjali! She's such an inspiration!

This morning, I had the opportunity to talk with superstar entrepreneur, Anjali Varma's Modern Mompreneur Meet-up group about one of the beliefs I hold most dear.

Small changes make big impacts.

I find this to be true in both business and life in general. Dreaming big while keeping your planned actions small helps fight overwhelm, keeps you focused, allows you to switch things up when something isn't working, and makes your day easier instead of more stressful.

As just one example, I heard that a tiny change like eliminating sugar in your coffee could add up to 10 pounds lost in a single year. After trying this myself and feeling better just a week in, I had to ask myself- what other small changes could I make that might pay off big?

Since then, I've applied this to networking, community building, and writing. The result? I'm spending less time battling my tendency to over complicate things and my days are a bit easier.  All of this makes me want to continue towards my goals and resolutions- instead of throwing in the towel a month into the new year as I might have in the past.

So, here's a brief video followed by a recap of what I shared today with Anjali and the rest of the AWESOME mompreneurs there.

Things I believe to be true about goals

  • Goals should be specific and measurable
  • Small actions have a big impact
  • Right for right now
  • Stretchy, but with some built-in flexibility in what success ultimately looks like
  • Integrated into the rest of your life
  • Aligned with your strengths
  • Within your direct control
  • Yours, not someone else’s goals for you

Things I believe to be true about planning

  1. You don’t have to be able to see all of the exact steps to infinity in order to start
  2. Shorter planning windows are WAY more effective
  3. Plans can have flexibility and opportunity built in

So, how might you put this in practice for yourself?

Consider adopting a 21-day cycle to build a series of good habits that move your towards your goals.  Here's a worksheet to get you started.

A big thank you to the ever-lovely Jessica McFadden for the photos and video!  So great to see you!

 

let's take the next 2 days off

It's been a crazy week. Nearly everyone I've crossed paths this week seemed up to their eyeballs in something.  It's times like these when we're both busy and suspect there are better things we could be doing (such as enjoying the summer) that we search for not-yet-tried productivity tips, hacks, and solutions.

Personal productivity is tricky. We all want to optimize our impact, but the goal seems elusive. Some days, I feel incredibly productive, while other days, I’m just busy. I know other people worry about their productivity, too: about 99 percent of the articles online for Fast Company alone have something to do with increasing our own impact for our time spent working. The message here is that if we’re just better at using our own time, things at work will get better. 

The demand for articles on productivity reveals a lot more about what we’re worried about at work—on a personal level—than it actually changes any of our distracting, counterproductive habits. The truth is we all have varying degrees of productivity and our own yardsticks to measure ourselves and others. There really is no absolute standard for knowledge worker productivity. 

And when it comes to productivity, no matter how much we’re doing, we all worry that it’s not enough. Will my boss think it’s enough? Will my clients be disappointed? Will my coworkers think that I’m not pulling my weight? All these are common concerns but are they worth the continuous retooling of your “to do” list?

The issue with focusing on this tough-to-quantify characteristic is that even if we were all off the charts in terms of our productivity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that our business is better or clients are happier because of it.

Solutions flash across our brains in a matter of seconds. With the right conditions lined up, we can effect change in the course of a day—or a week. And this could be the change the makes all the difference. Focus pushes us toward something big and meaningful. 

Contrast that with the slog we’re often more familiar with. We chip away at big, amorphous problems and settle for progress in the smallest possible increments. Worrying about our own productivity within that system seems really dejecting. Working harder or more diligently on a problem that will never or should never be solved is an unfulfilling way to live and work.

The other problem with worrying about productivity is the concern that someone senior to us isn’t going to think we’re sufficiently productive so we hold off asking for anything else. Until we’re feeling like we’re at the top of our game and are producing everything they’ve asked, plus a little more, these little worries around our worth and value linger.

Often times, the best way to generate ideas to is stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and our teams to produce them. Let them simply come to us whether it be a quiet moment or part of a team discussion, a highly productive day or simply a day when we’re busy. In the end, it’s the idea that may be of greatest importance, not the productivity that surrounded it.