Start Small

The start of a new year brings the opportunity for fresh beginnings. You may be motivated to set a big goal, create a business plan, or start a new diet. While I encourage you to always push yourself forward, I remind you of one thing: start small.

Do you look at your goals and feel overwhelmed? I have this feeling when looking at the total amount I need saved for my eventual financial independence. To help, I reverse engineer the process and focus on the amount I need to save this month. As The Sketch Guy, Carl Richards, so eloquently puts it -- “What is the next smallest action? Do that thing.”

Your natural inclination may be to reach for the stars and set a big goal. After all, if you fall a little short of the big goal, you still improved your current situation. I remind you that even the greatest success stories had humble beginnings. Here are three of my favorite success stories:

Richard Sears was working as a railroad freight agent in 1886 when he was given an unwanted shipment of pocket watches by a local jeweler. He sold these watches and used the proceeds to buy and resell more watches. This side hustle of buying, repairing, and selling watches led to Sears quitting his job and starting R.W. Sears Watch Co. in Minneapolis, MN. A few years later, the first Sears catalog was sent out--and the rest is history.

Brian Scudamore needed a way to pay for college. After seeing a truck advertising a junk removal service, he used $700 of his own savings to buy his own pickup truck. His small business quickly took off, and he used profits to reinvest in the business. Scudamore continued to buy more trucks and hire employees, which led to him dropping out of college. This junk removal service was the beginning of ‘1-800-GOT-JUNK?’. The company is now servicing over 150 locations and three countries.

Greg Glassman opened a gym in 1995 to train individuals in his unique way of combining weightlifting and aerobic exercises. As his schedule became full only training individuals one-on-one, he introduced group classes. In 2000, he founded CrossFit and began opening affiliate gyms. Although the growth was slow at first, there are now more than 13,000 affiliates across the world.

Regardless of your goals or ambitions for the year, I encourage you to start small. These three steps will help you start off the year running:

  1. Only take on one goal at a time. Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to accomplish too much at once. As you start to check small steps off your list, the momentum will build.

  2. Make plans for your goals. Specifically state the when, where, and how of the task to increase your odds of actually performing what needs to be done.

  3. Create an environment that allows you to succeed. Do you want to buy a home this year? Contact a realtor and ask them to set you up on MLS alerts. This will send you an email whenever a home becomes available that meets your specific guidelines. A small step like this is just what you need to get your attention focused on your goal.