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The Power of Small

The Power of Small

You’ve decided to take on an extravagant vacation over the winter break. But simply deciding to take a trip isn’t enough to actually make it wonderful.

To have a wonder trip, it involves a bunch of small decisions: How do you decide on the perfect destination? When should you travel? Where to stay? What adventures and excursions should you try?

Let’s use Henry Ford’s car business to illustrate how this process works. Most people believe that Ford’s decision to mass produce the Model T is the lynch pin in his success. However, what we fail to see are all the tiny decisions added together that produce a large result.

    Here are the smaller more significant decisions Ford made that made mass producing the Model T the success it was:

    • He reduce the standard workday from nine hours to eight.
    • He doubled the workers pay

    These two decisions alone reduce employee turnover from 370 percent to just 16 percent. And even though he reduced the workday by an hour productivity rose from 40 percent to 70 percent. His decision to focus on employee moral and invest in and improve the lives of his workers made him the world’s greatest automobile maker and a billionaire. This was after he reduced the price of the Model T from $800 to $350 over a nine year span.

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    All these actions, reducing the amount of hours worked per day, doubling their pay and lowering the retail price of the car seem counterintuitive and should have made him lose money. But by making a few smaller decisions that really matter led to the overall decision of mass production a smashing success.

    Don’t we naturally think that bigger is better?

    Research shows that the human brain is hard-wired for efficiency.[1] It seeks and finds the most efficient and energy saving method to do everything. So if possible, our brain would desperately want to just make one big decision that will be beneficial for once and for ever.

    Conscientiously, you are unable to comprehend and understand the process our brain undergoes to do the smallest tasks. You are only aware of larger tasks and processes which are an aggregate of millions of tiny decisions your brain undergoes every second.

    This process and logic should be applied to larger decisions that must be made. You must make multiple small decisions to reach the big one.

      Big is a burden

      There is a reason that big decisions are too hard to make. When you try to make a big decision, you expend a lot of time working and reworking an idea. You try to perfect it. You try to view it from all angles and try to avoid all negative consequences.

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      Aiming for the perfect solution can actually delay and hinder the decision-making process. Very few decisions are perfect without any negative consequences. Striving for a no-consequence solution can lead to you not making a decision at all. And when no decision’s made, nothing’s executed, and nothing gets accomplished.

      Big decisions are also very hard to change. Once you’ve made a big decision, it’s harder to go back and change what’s been done. When you hang you all your hopes on one big decision, you are setting yourself up for a big success or a huge disaster.

      The greater the risk, the greater the consequence. A bad decision can alter your future, ruin your business, cost you money or even a relationship. And when you expend copious amounts of time and effort in making such a large decision, you are more apt to be blind to the fact that your decision was a poor one.

        You’ll stick with it and defend it. You are less likely to change your course which can end up costing you even more time, energy and resources. It’s hard to cut your losses when you make a huge decision.

        Small is big

        You’ve heard less is more, what about small is big? Most successes are not the result of one big decision. Instead, success is constructed from a slew of tiny decisions. Smaller decisions are more flexible.

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        Making smaller decisions also allows you to mitigate risks. You don’t usually make a huge mistake from smaller decisions. Good small decisions create small wins. One small win leads to another and another. They form a chain of good decision-making.

        Big decisions are burdensome and heavy. You are more apt to put off making a decision when a big looming consequence is hanging threateningly over your head. Breaking a decision down into pieces and steps makes the process easier and much less daunting. You progress quicker and build confidence.

        If you decide to to change your lifestyle and eat healthy, it’s better to start by deciding which small actions to integrate into your lifestyle first. In lieu of going completely vegan all at once you may want to start by drinking one more bottle of water per day and replace your normal, unhealthy snacks with fruit.

        If you completely change your entire lifestyle all at once, you will become discouraged. And when you do, it’s hard to shake it off and keep going. However, adapting to drinking more water and eating healthier snacks is easier to adjust and stick to. When you become demotivated and fall off the wagon, it is so much easier to get back up and resume. The risk of failure is smaller which is far less burdensome than trying to cut all meat, dairy and eggs out of your diet in one swoop.

          From bricks to walls

          When you are faced with having to make a big decision, break it down into bite sized chunks.

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          • Think about of the smaller components of this decision.
          • Determine what steps you need to take and what resources you need.

          Make small decisions about these things first. Each small decision adds to the larger one and before you know it, you’ve reached your intended goal.

          Think about Henry Ford and the small adjustments he made. By using the process of small decisions, he changed the entire manufacturing industry forever, impacted the lives of his workers, made the Model T affordable for the common man and became a billionaire during the process.

          Make your big decisions one small decision at a time.

          Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on March 31, 2020

          Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

          Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

          Procrastination is in a human’s biological makeup. Thanks to our limbic system, the neurological powerhouse that controls our emotions and memory, we are inclined to feel before we think. To avoid experiencing negative feelings, we keep away from tasks that may overwhelm or inconvenience us.

          Because we are inclined to seek and enjoy pleasure first, we tend to give in to things that make us happy instantly. It is so instant that we don’t see a point in neglecting ourselves. But it blinds us from viewing the consequences due to procrastination — more than 3 hours go missing every single day, and about 55 days — almost 2 months are lost every year.

          It All Comes down to Our Emotions

          The essential way to overcome procrastination is by regulating these emotions. When obligations are dreadful, they drag our feet to complete them. Most people tend to confuse work with emotional suffering because the task at hand may appear to be complicated or difficult; which can cause anxiety or despair.

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          The more complicated or challenging the work may be, the more challenge-averse we become. All of these negative feelings and reservations add up, making people avoid the tasks altogether to keep from experiencing suffering or negativity.

          Adjust the Task and Your Mood Will Change

          Difficult or complicated tasks tend to easily overwhelm people, causing them to lose interest in the project and faith in themselves. The key is to make these tasks more manageable.

          How do you do this? By breaking them up into smaller, digestible elements that will eventually add up to complete the big picture. This way, a lot of the strain is lifted, and you can find a little more enjoyment in your work.

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          Before breaking down the tasks, as a whole they appear to be time consuming and challenging.  Small, manageable parts you can take action on immediately.  The smaller the tasks, the easier you will find them to manage.  So it’s good to break down your tasks into elements that will only take you 45 minutes or less to complete.

          Keep the big picture in mind, but keep your workload light and only focus on one small task at a time. When you commit your attention to one element at a time, you are gradually making your way towards the larger goal.

          Since we are inclined to seek out things that bring us pleasure, small rewards can go a long way to help to satisfy our need for pleasure and positivity.  Rewards give you small goals to work towards, which will help to keep you motivated. Even if you aren’t able to physically reward yourself, still celebrate the progress you’ve made along the way.

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          Celebrate the completion of each small step to encourage morale. Keep up momentum throughout the entire project, and tiny celebrations will help you to do just that. Expecting to see results of the task at hand immediately is unrealistic. Accomplishments are measured by the differences you have made along the way, not the end result.

          Imagine holding an event at work.  You must find a venue, caterer, and entertainment.  You also need to come up with a theme, and decorate the venue and table settings.  This is a huge project.  Break it down into smaller parts.  For example, maybe focus on deciding on a theme first.  When you’ve completed that, give yourself a small break as a reward before moving on to the next part.  One thing at a time and reward yourself to stay motivated.  Then the big project will not overwhelm you.

          What if no matter how small the task is, it’s still dreadful?  No job is perfect. You will always at some point find yourself faced with tedious and uninteresting tasks that you must complete. Sometimes you just need to suck it up and push through.  To stay motivated, plan to complete positive tasks along with the negative ones.  This will regulate your emotions, and ensure that you don’t only do the things that you “feel like” doing.  Always remember to keep your eye on the big picture, which will give meaning to all of your tasks (even the tedious ones).

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          When you alter your attitude towards your obligations, it will make the tasks seem less tedious.  It takes a lot of practice and reinforcement, but eventually it will change your work ethic.  Refer to these tips to help you beat procrastination every time!

          Learn more tips about how to stop procrastinating: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

          Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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