how one small change in your lifestyle can deliver you to your ultimate goal
I believe that even the smallest changes can contribute to a drastic turn-around in our well-being and help you reach your end-goal even when it seems impossible to achieve.
You might see a small change as insignificant, that it has no potential to have an effect at all on the overall result. But this is where you’re incredibly wrong! In fact, it is the simplest and easiest change that can kick-start the huge revolution and deliver you to your ultimate destination.
Easy and difficult choices
In life, we make choices on a daily basis. And for change to take place, we have to make a choice in order for something to happen. Be it to sleep earlier at night or hit the gym more often, there is a choice to be made. Every choice that is made and every change that takes place alters our brain and our body to a certain extent, depending on how significant the change is. And our brain and body constantly adapts to these changes to get used to a new normal.
Our choices can be grouped into two categories – easy and difficult choices. Choices that we deem as difficult are usually those that pose as a huge challenge to us and requires our brain to work harder to adapt, simply because the change is huge. Easy choices, on the other hand, are easier to adapt because we see them as almost effortless, or more manageable, as compared to difficult choices.
Let’s imagine a situation where someone’s end goal is to lose weight. A difficult choice would be to ask him to run 5km weekly. His brain’s immediate reaction to it would be “that is way too hard, you can’t do it.” And when that happens, he would procrastinate on the decision to begin on anything at all to lose weight because it’s too challenging and consequently makes zero progress to reach his end goal.
However, if you ask him to begin with something he considers as manageable such as reducing his intake of fast food from three times a week to once a week, his brain will go “hey, this isn’t that difficult, I can probably do it.” This, is considered as an easy choice. Easy choices are made more easily and effectively, because we deem it as possible and therefore tend to take action on it almost immediately.
And this very small change is going to gear him up for more changes to come. When he has successfully reduced his intake of fast food, he’ll be feeling better about his weight and will then be ready for his next manageable change. Before he knows it, he has already incorporated so many small changes that his weight has improved considerably. And who knows, he might then be ready to take on that 5km weekly run that he initially deemed as impossible.
So you see, it’s the smallest changes that slowly leads you up to your end goal. What you might deem as impossible now may be possible just by taking the first step to incorporate a small and easy change. Easy choices consequently make difficult choices easier, so do not underestimate the effects of a choice to make one simple small change.
I first read about the pyramid metaphor in this book, which explains what I just described above perfectly. In the book, it is said that our choices make up the pyramid, with the easiest choices being the foundation at the bottom.
When we build our pyramid upwards, we should place our choices in ascending order – easiest at the bottom and hardest at the top. It is important to fill the base with the choices that we deem easiest to make because they are the choices that we would not hesitate to take action on. And this will kick-start our journey towards our end goal.
When you complete the bottom level consisting all the easiest choices, you will find that the second level of choices suddenly become much easier. Compare it to when you were at ground zero and those choices at the second level felt so much more challenging and difficult to achieve.
I’m sure you get what I mean. It gets easier after each level, but you have to first set your foundation right.
I managed to come up with a few steps that can help in building your very own pyramid.
So let’s say you have your end goal already in mind. What you have to do is to write a list of things that will eventually lead you up to your end goal. Try to spend some time here thinking about it and listing as many as you can.
So maybe you have come up with, for example, 6 things. Then, rank them from 1 to 6 according to difficulty, with 1 being the easiest and 6 the most difficult. Think about how much you would hesitate to take up this choice when it is presented in front of you. Of course, there can be more than 6 things. List as many as you can and rank them from easiest to hardest according to your own standards.
Next step is to evaluate those things that you just listed, and decide if they are easy enough for you to incorporate. If the answer is no, then further break down those things into even simpler steps. Label those broken down steps in alphabetical order starting from which you want to begin first. Break them down as many times as you want until it is simplified enough.
For example, you listed “eating healthier” as one of the things that can help you achieve your end goal. You can further break it down into:
a. reduce intake of fast-food to once a week
b. completely eliminate fast-food
c. incorporate more vegetables in each meal
d. reduce intake of processed foods to once a week
and so on.
You can choose to breakdown the things level by level as you go, or do them all at once. It depends on you. Some people might choose to focus on the bottom level first and not think about the ones higher up, because it can get quite overwhelming sometimes.
If so, then just breakdown the ones at the bottom level into really simple steps and concentrate on doing them first. When you’re ready to move to the next level, then you can start breaking them down again until they all consist of really simple choices that you can easily make.
When you’re happy with the list, you can begin filling them into your pyramid.
And there you have it, your very own pyramid to reach your end goal!
1. Set the end goal.
2. Write a list of things that will help you to reach your end goal, as many as you can, as specific as you can.
3. Rank the things in numerical order according to difficulty, with 1 being the easiest.
4. Evaluate the things you listed and decide if they are easy enough for you to incorporate.
5. If not, then break them down further into even simpler steps until they are easy enough for you to incorporate.
6. Label the broken down things in alphabetical order starting from which you want to begin first.
7. Fill in the pyramid with the things from your list into each level, with 1 being at the bottom as the foundation.
8. Add in the broken down steps into each level.
9. Begin incorporating them starting from the bottom and work your way up towards your end goal.
Eg. 1a, 1b, 1c, then 2 and so on.
The Pyramid in Practice
To put it in perspective, here’s an example of The Pyramid in practice:
Let’s say this is the list that I have come up with:
This is how I would fill in the pyramid with the things from my list:
Remember, success to this lies in two key steps:
1. Set the foundation with the easiest choices.
2. Breakdown the choices as much as you can until it is simplified enough to begin on them without much struggle.
Don’t stress yourself by looking at the higher levels. You’ll get there ultimately because it gets easier as you go along. Just focus on working on the foundation and those harder choices will become easier eventually.
Incorporate one change at a time, at your own pace. If you want to go slow and make things more manageable, incorporating only one change a week can help.
I hope this has inspired you to begin taking steps to work towards any goal that you have in mind. You might have been putting it off because it’s too challenging. But when you begin building your pyramid and making sure you set your foundation right, you will see it might not be that challenging after all. Even the smallest steps count and can make a difference, no matter how insignificant. The only way is up.