Everything Happens Incrementally
Living A Life of Focus – Part 7
There was a RPG programmer I worked with for about 10 years, who had a practice of doing a little work on his requests every day until the deadline. After noticing how he never once missed a deadline, I decided to inquire about his habit, what made him different than most. I then gave it this name, incremental change. After hearing Michael Hyatt’s podcast on “Incremental Change,” I immediately identified this as an uncommon practice. And you know what happened next? I took ownership and began analyzing it for my own use. You have to admit normal people wait until the last minute to complete tasks. The normal practice is to put the work off until you have to get something done. Pamela and I decided to make this process our focus statement for the year, “Incremental Change: Just Take the Very Next Action Step.”
The Thought or Concept:
Incremental change is about taking one more step. The word incremental implies that it [whatever it, your action, your plan, your goal] maybe, it’s not done all at once. It’s done in small steps that incrementally build upon each other until the task is accomplished. “Just take the very next action step” you can take. If your habit is to always make a next step, you incrementally improve every single day.
Here’s a prayer we picked up during our focus on this statement, Lord, give us the next step….
Make my steps secure through your promise… (Psalm 119:133 GW)
Incremental change produces compounding results. It gives you the time and margin you need to produce better results. Try to obtain a bachelor’s degree in 12 months as opposed to 4-5 years and see how that works out. Can you imagine cramming that 4 years of hard work into 12 months? That’s what the absence of incremental change looks like. You see that programmer taught me how to begin the work before it was due so that I could finish the job stress-free and pain-free.
“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. Who are you not to be great?” – Nelson Mandela
Without incremental change, you’re playing small. It’s impossible to do big things without doing it incrementally. Big things, becoming great, takes time and there are two things that can work against you.
- Putting your big idea or dream off and
- Trying to do it all in one day.
Let’s discuss what Pamela and I discussed over a year of studying and focusing on incremental change. We learned four basics to implementing incremental changes that improved our lives for the better.
- One foot in front of another.
You have to learn that there is no other way to walk forward than by putting one foot in front of the other. Change occurs incrementally just by taking the very next step, then a next step and another step. In order to go somewhere, anywhere, you must put one foot in front of the other. Everything to be accomplished in life takes deliberate incremental steps.
- A plan helps with incremental change.
The family plan is a tool and road map we use for getting us from here (where we are now) to there (where we want to be). The family plan’s intent is to foster incremental change in our behavior and keep our eyes on our destination, thusly altering our lifestyle forever. Remember that saying “out of sight out of mind” is true and to avoid having this saying come true in your life, add some incremental actions that help you bring those things (your plans) to the front of your mind.
- Alter the current incremental behavior.
Whether you know it or not, your current behaviors which produce your current results are habits that were built incrementally. You see, everything you do in life is incremental because everything you learn is incremental. When in grade school, you don’t skip from first grade and go to the fourth. The process is incremental. You have to take the next step, second grade. When you build a relationship with someone, you don’t learn their stories all at once. You get to know them incrementally. You get to know a person one dinner after another, one encounter after the next. To obtain the degree you desire can’t happen over night, that process is incremental. You have to study one subject, one book, after next. What I want you to know is that everything is incremental. So if you change what you place in the incremental machine, you change the outcomes you have down the road.
- A little at a time.
Making the incremental changes you need to become the best version of you requires a plan. Without a plan you have no idea what your true north is. In fact, you’ll run all over the place and do everything under the sun when you have no plan.
“Where there is no vision [plan or true north], the people cast off restraint [disciplined incremental change].” Proverbs 29:18 ASV
Setting the appropriate incremental change means you place restraints on your life that keep you from inappropriate incremental changes. Because incremental change is inevitable, the key is to use it to your benefit.
Life can be complicated when you have no plan or vision for your life. Nothing works out as you intended it because you had no clear intentions. To get around this, first get a plan for your life and second begin the action of focusing on the next step that will get you there, but by all means do it incrementally.
Today is Friday!
This lesson has been on a focus statement we call “Incremental Change: Just Take the Very Next Action Step.” How can you know what your next step is without knowing where you’d like to go? Use the power of incremental change to help you define your plans and take the actions necessary to see you achieve the things you dream of.
If the only thing you got from this lesson on incremental change was simply take the next action steps, that’s more than enough. Do me a favor and give that same message to your friends by sending them the link to this message. Thanks.