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Making Small Changes Leads to Big Results

As a therapist, I often talk to clients about how we actually make changes to reach our goals. I think we underestimate the value and importance of small changes in our everyday life and how these small changes lead to success in a defining moment of reaching a goal.

British cyclist, Dave Brailford, who won the Tour de France who is now a General Manager and Performance Director for Britain’s professional cycling team coined a term “aggregation of marginal gains”. What this means is that we should strive for “1 percent margin for improvement in everything we do”. What he means is that if you improve every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, the small changes would add up to an amazing result. In regards to cycling he searched for small improvements in nutrition, training regime, ergonomics of the bike seat as well as things like getting the most and best sleep, getting the best massage gel, best way to wash hands to avoid infection. After years of implementing these small changes, his team ended up winning 70 percent of the gold medals available in 2012, including a member of this team being a winner of the race that year,  and, in 2013, another member of the team won Tour  de  France.

How does this relate to us? It is important to not overestimate the importance of making good decisions on daily basis and how this contributes to success. Every habit we have – good or bad- is the result of many small decisions over time. We do not think this way when we are striving to meet our goals. It is easy to convince oneself that change is only meaningful if there are big changes with visible results. Whatever our goals are, promotion at work, loosing weight, we think we need to make some big steps or sacrifices to get there. Improving 1 percent in several areas leading up to the goal is not notable or noticeable, but in the long run, can lead to success. And, the same works in reverse, according to Brailsford, but I suspect most of us already know that. All of us who are stuck in bad habits leading to bad results have a hunch that the result did not happen over night. The sum of many small choices, 1 percent here and there and eventually there is a bigger problem or a successful outcome.

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