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When it Comes to Success, Size Matters

I know what you’ve heard – but size does matter.

We create the life we want through a series of small actions. Big results start with bite-sized improvements you can make today. I call these tiny changes “micro-goals.” Here’s how to use journaling to set them in motion.

Is Your Recycling Bin Overflowing?

In order to succeed at anything, we need to remove all barriers to completion. The good news? Most barriers are really small and simple to eliminate. All we have to do is identify them and then make a tiny change to wipe them out.

Take my recycling bin, for example. The plastic tub under the kitchen sink would begin to overflow. Each time I left the apartment, I’d think, “I should take out the recycling.” Except I wouldn’t. Because that required an extra trip up and down the stairs to bring the empty bin back inside. Extra trips are unappealing because I’m running late I’m lazy.

The barrier, in this case, was the extra trip. I made a tiny change that eliminated the extra trip, and presto – empty recycling bin. All I did was stockpile paper bags next to the bin. When it’s full, I dump the contents into one of the bags and drop it off on my way out. No return trip needed.

It seems like such a small thing – and that’s exactly my point. There are so many small things in your life with tiny barriers to completion. Added together, they can keep you from reaching your dreams.

Writing Your Way Through Barriers

My journal is my number one tool for identifying barriers and brainstorming ways to eliminate them. If I’m in a state of complete disarray, I use the Working/Not Working exercise first. Then I have a look at my list of “not workings” and pick out the barriers.

If you journal write regularly, you can simply flip through your journal for the past two weeks and note recurring complaints. Read over recent entries and look for patterns.

Are you always late? Maybe your barrier to punctuality is simply not knowing the time. The solution is a new battery for your watch.

Do you lack the time to journal daily because you waste fifteen minutes each morning looking for your keys? Hammer a nail next to the door and hang up your keys when you come home.

Maybe the Netflix movies sit in their little red envelope for days before they’re mailed back. Put an outgoing bin right under that nail you just hung up. You’ll remember to grab the mail with your keys as you head out the door.

Another seemingly silly, tiny barrier: I stopped phoning my parents for a few weeks because their new number was sitting in an email. As soon as I programmed them into my cell phone, the conversation picked back up.

Imagine how much self-flagellation you could avoid just by removing some barriers. Your inability to be on time is not a character flaw; you just needed a battery. My overflowing recycling bin is not a sign of laziness; I just needed a paper bag.

Look for little improvements you can make in your daily life. Eliminating hassles and saving time leads to a more relaxed and happy state. Don’t underestimate the power of small barriers, and the elation you feel upon removing them.

Disarming the Invisible Fences

Like those sneaky electric fences, some barriers are invisible. Not knowing how to do something is often a source of paralysis. To combat intangible barriers, get out your journal. Free-write for ten minutes about activities you’ve been hankering to do lately but haven’t acted on. Maybe you want to start going to the gym. Or maybe you’d really like to take singing lessons. Just take ten minutes to dream a little on the page.

Now take one of those items and write it at the top of a blank page. Underneath, brainstorm all the potential barriers. Even the petty ones – they’re usually the sneakiest. Maybe you avoid the gym because you lack workout gear. Or maybe you don’t know how to use the cardio machines. For me, it’s often something tiny like not knowing what time a place opens.

Now use your journal to eliminate these barriers with micro-goals. In the case of the cardio machines, you don’t need to become an expert on the rower, elliptical, and recumbent bike this week to get the results you’re after. Think small. You just need to learn how to turn on the treadmill.

Create a micro-goal you can act on immediately: ask a trainer at the gym to show you how to program the treadmill. That’s why they’re there. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner.

Congratulations! You’ve just eliminated a barrier to success. Wasn’t that easy?

You’ll be amazed at how powerful small changes can be, and how painlessly you can implement them. Your journal is an essential tool in this process. It helps you see the patterns in your life that are holding you back. And it helps you identify tiny changes that deliver big results – quickly.

What little improvements could you make today? Happiness and success are just a few micro steps away.