Whether personal or professional, we all have goals. Perhaps you want to build a healthier company culture or you want to be healthier yourself. The problem with big goals, however, is that success feels distant, and it's easy to get distracted by the day-to-day.
Recently, author Carl Richard wrote about the power of micro-actions. A micro-action is small, painfully simple step toward a big goal. When we take this small step (for example, wearing your gym clothes to bed or going to lunch with your team), it gets us that much closer to achieving a goal. And that good behavior starts a chain reaction (for example, you choose a healthy breakfast option after going to the gym or you are able to have a candid conversation with a teammate after a social lunch).
As the year nears an end and you're thinking about resolutions for yourself and your company, here are four micro-actions that are especially helpful for entrepreneurs.
30 seconds: Sign out of your email to increase intentionality.
Email is the ultimate distractor. It's easy to spend the entire day writing and responding to emails, and while this can feel productive, it often means that you are responding to others without accomplishing your own tasks. The temptation of a new badge or notification is difficult to ignore. One micro-action is to sign out of your email on your computer and phone when you're done checking it. This means that when you go to check it again, you'll need to sign back in. This extra barrier will inspire you to be more intentional about when you check your email. You might find this intentionality spill over into other realms of your life, for example having meaningful conversations with colleagues, choosing the healthy snack option, or choosing how to spend your day.
1 minute: Create a fun team ritual to live healthier.
During the busiest times of year (or all year), building and maintaining a gym routine is challenging. As a start, bring the gym to your office. Earlier this year, one of my teams did a one-minute plank at the top of every hour. We set an alarm on our phone, and whenever we heard its chime, we stopped what we were doing, got down on the floor, and held a plank for sixty seconds. As the project went on, the micro-action not only made us phsyically stronger, but also made us more productive --we each found ourselves intensely focusing in order to hit mini-milestones before the next plank.
2 minutes: Meditate to make smarter decisions.
According to a Harvard neuroscientist, meditation not only calms our brain, but also changes it. In one study, he and his colleagues compared the brains of people who meditate versus those who don't. They found that those who meditate have more gray matter in regions of the brain associated with memory and executive decision-making. In a follow-up experiment, participants who had never meditated before joined an 8-week meditation program. At the end, researchers found increases in brain areas associated with learning, empathy, and managing stress. Take the micro-action of meditating for three minutes each day--the time you might be waiting in line or scrolling on your phone.
5 minutes: Read a book to boost learning and memory.
The more we learn, the more successful we can be at our jobs and as people. While there is a wealth of courses online for almost every topic imaginable, you might not have the time or resources to pursue them. And of course, they are a big commitment. Start small by instead finding a book about your topic of interest. Commit to reading just five minutes a day. This might be when you are waiting for dinner to be ready, during your commute, or before bed. For an added bonus, obtain a physical copy of the book to avoid distractions from an e-reader app on your smartphone. In fact, science has shown that we remember more when we read on pages versus a screen.
In an always-on world of work-life integration, we are constantly being pulled in multiple directions, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to meet whatever goals we have set for ourselves. Tip the chain reaction in your favor, and go big by starting small.