Wanna change your life? Robert Maurer, author of One Small Step Can Change Your Life, says that jumping into a big project puts your brain into ‘panic mode’. Basically, you freeze because you have no idea where to start, so you do nothing. On the flip side, starting slowly raises your odds of finishing any task. The Japanese even have a word for it: kaizen. Which literally means “continuous change.” Basically, taking baby steps with an eye toward your big goal. So, here’s how to make kaizen work for you:

  • Take one small action each day. If you aim for an unrealistic goal, you’ll just get frustrated and give up. Like doing 100 sit-ups when you haven’t done one in a decade. Instead, vow to do a couple of sit-ups during a commercial break. Not only will you be more likely to follow through, you’ll probably do a few more crunches when the next break rolls around!
  • Close your eyes for one minute. Then visualize yourself achieving your goal, whether it’s going back to school, losing weight, or grabbing that promotion. Research shows, if you visualize the results you want, you're more likely to get them. As Wayne Gretsky once said, "The reason I'm so good at hockey is because I focus on where the puck is going to be." Plus, 35 percent of regular exercisers say visualization is the key to sticking with it.
  • Ask yourself a SMALL question. Big questions can make you feel defeated before you start. So, instead of asking “How can I triple my income?” Stick to small questions like, “What’s one thing I could do better?” It’ll help you come up with a fast answer that’ll keep you moving ahead, boost your confidence, and jump-start your problem-solving skills.
  • Reward yourself. For example, when you straighten up a cluttered corner, give yourself an instant treat, like an ice cream sundae. Studies show that small, incremental rewards are more effective than dangling one big carrot at the end of a project. Because rewards let us feel good about what we’ve already accomplished, even if we still have a lot of work ahead. The result? We’re motivated to keep going!