The magic of incremental change


Have you ever ridden bikes with a competitive club?

If you have, I bet it went something like this:

When you first joined the group, it probably felt like a big victory to just keep up with them for the first 15 minutes. After a while, that became the first half-hour. Then an hour. One day, almost without even noticing it, you were suddenly able to stick with the pack for the entire ride.

It felt sudden at the time, but, of course, it wasn’t.

This is the sneaky power of incremental change. Here’s how it works:

  1. You make a small improvement.
  2. That becomes the new normal, and you get used to it.
  3. You make a small improvement again.
  4. That becomes the new normal again.
  5. Repeat.

The result of incremental change is that we barely notice we are getting closer to our goal, and then (again, seemingly “all of a sudden”) we’re there!

I bet you didn’t feel a lot faster because you weren’t a lot faster… at least, not compared to yesterday or even last week. But month after month, ride after ride, it all added up. All those little bits of “faster” started to compound on top of one another.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to riding bikes.

If you build a process of reflecting every quarter, month, and year, you’ll never feel like you’re not accomplishing anything again. And while that may spoil some of the surprise of suddenly and unexpectedly arriving at your goal one day, I promise it will be worth it to feel much better along the way.

Be Brave and Be Kind

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