I bet the last time you read the title of this post you thought, “Oh yeah, I read that a few years ago. I don’t remember it being that interesting.” But just remember, the past doesn’t matter when you’re looking to achieve a life-changing transformation. Just because you’ve read the title of this entry before, it doesn’t mean you’ll never achieve the results you want.

You may have heard about a study called the butterfly effect. In the study, scientists looked at the Bay of Bengal and how it changed over time. Their findings were surprising: the butterflies weren’t the cause of the sea level rise, something else was. In fact, the effect that was causing the sea level to rise was the changing levels of the water the butterflies were flying around.

More than just a catchy title, my goal is to show that small changes can lead to big results. For example, it took me a long time to realize that it takes much less time to workout than I had previously thought. If you want to get healthier, walk for at least 10 minutes three times a week, and you’ll see that you can improve your health in a short amount of time.

Small changes over time might add up to a big difference. The Butterfly Effect, a meteorological term, can help us understand how.

The Butterfly Effect is about how little changes in a complex system can lead to unpredictably unpredictable outcomes. What may appear to be a minor and insignificant adjustment in one location may result in huge effects elsewhere or at a later time.


A LOT OF DIRECTIONS AND SMALL CHANGES

If you roll a ball down a hill, it can go in a variety of ways depending totally on a small rock it encounters along the way. This is relevant to our lives because, when major and life-altering events occur, you may agonize over the smallest and most insignificant things that could have impacted the outcome.

  • If you liked your vegetables as a youngster, you’ll probably like them now.
  • You could have prevented injury now if you had taken care of your shoulder when playing sports as a kid.
  • If you had stepped up the pace a little on the last lap, you could have set a new mile record.
  • You won’t forget that birthday/anniversary/appointment if you set a reminder on your phone.
  • You wouldn’t have missed the bus if you had gotten up 5 minutes sooner.

What may appear to be little adjustments or events may or may not have a substantial impact on our lives.

THE CONTROL FREAK AND SMALL CHANGES

I’m a bit of a control freak, not in all situations, but in some, and I enjoy the sensation of knowing what’s going on and believing I have control over what happens next. It’s one of the reasons I’m not a big drinker; I just don’t like the feeling of not being in my typical headspace, if that makes sense.

I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. You may enjoy the sensation or thought that you are in charge of your own fate. However, there are times when chaotic events occur that are beyond our control.

  • You have power over the meals you consume.
  • You have no power over the weather.
  • Whether or if you exercise today is under your control.
  • You have no control over whether or not your dog poop on the carpet.
  • You have the option of starting your own company.
  • You have no control over whether you will be fired tomorrow (you can influence it but not control it)
  • There is power in unconditionally loving someone.
  • You have control over whether or not someone loves you.

You can play the odds of the chip falling where you want it to by dropping it in a precise position, similar to the game Plinko on The Price Is Right, but it will ultimately be random. By consuming genuine food and exercising regularly, you can reduce your risk of chronic disease and obesity.

By becoming a better listener, being there for someone when they need you, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you can affect your social interactions. You can avoid, minimize, or make less likely a lot of things, but you can’t always prevent them, which is why growing comfortable with the unpleasant is so vital.

CAN SMALL CHANGES HAVE A MAJOR EFFECT?

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: HOW SMALL CHANGES LEAD TO BIG PROGRESSjamesclear.com is the source of this image.

James Clear demonstrates the value of marginal benefits in his book “Atomic Habits.” At aiming for 1% improvement every day, you can improve 37 percent by the end of the year. 

Improving by 1% isn’t particularly significant– in fact, it isn’t often noticeable– but it can be significantly more significant in the long run. It’s amazing how much of a difference a small improvement can make over time. Here’s how the math works: if you improve by 1% every day for a year, you’ll be 37 times better by the end. On the other hand, if you get 1% worse every day for a year, you’ll be virtually at zero. What begins as a tiny victory or setback grows into something much bigger.

To make tiny adjustments, James advises us to follow the four laws of behavior modification. Make the change obvious, appealing, simple to implement, and fulfilling. 

If you wanted to start exercising, you might make it obvious by keeping your gym clothes by your keys and setting aside time on your schedule. You may make it appealing by beginning by moving your body in ways that you appreciate (meaningful movement). Make it simple by committing to 5 minutes every day and gradually increasing your time. Celebrate your victories to make it more satisfying. 

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF SMALL CHANGES

Sometimes diving into a frigid pool or taking a cold shower is just what you need, and other times it isn’t.

If you want to change a habit, such as eating healthier, exercising more, procrastinating less, or overcoming phobias, you may need to take a more gradual approach, focusing on one tiny step at a time. This can help to alleviate a lot of anxiety, perplexity, and feelings of being overwhelmed.

1. Would you prefer a million dollars or a penny today?

Small improvements made on a daily basis can add up to great rewards in the long run. Take, for example, the double penny. What would you do if I offered you a million dollars right now or a penny that quadrupled in value every day for the next five Thursdays?

The visceral instinct tells you to take the million dollars today, but if you double a penny every day for the following 30 days, you’ll have 5.3 million dollars. I get what you’re thinking, but who knows what will happen in the next 30 days, and although you’re correct in asking those questions, you’re also considering the least possible conclusion. You’ll most likely be alright in the next 30 days, and life will continue on. You have the luxury of being patient.

2. Rise and shine a little early.

Every day, you may get up 30 minutes earlier to cook a meal or two, get in a fast workout, concentrate on your side hustle, spend time connecting with your wife or kids, practice appreciation, or meditate. Another small change you could make now that could lead to larger and more positive changes later is to get up 30 minutes earlier every day. Consider what 30 minutes of exercise in the morning could do for you if you aren’t already doing so.

3. If you give a little, you’ll get a little.

I wrote a blog post a few months ago about how I bought someone a cup of coffee at Starbucks and ended up getting not just a free cup but also my money back and then some from someone else who witnessed the gesture. A $1.65 here, a hug there, a phone call to someone you care about, or a simple thank you can go a long way; you may have just changed someone else’s day, and their mood may be affected as a result.

4. Extend your smile

Smile a little more; as cliché as it may sound, smiling is something we frequently take for granted, yet it has a huge impact on not only our lives, but also the lives of others. Who would you prefer spend time with, Picture #1 or Picture #2, to prove it?

A smile is identified as the highest symbol for positive emotional content in a study by researcher Andrew Newberg. When the muscles in our faces contract, positive feedback is delivered to the brain, indicating that you are happy and experiencing joy. In turn, your brain sends signals to the rest of your body, indicating that you are happy and experiencing joy. It’s a cyclical event that keeps repeating itself, so the more you smile, the happier and more joyous you will become.

To expand on this, there is a well-known yearbook grin study that demonstrates how a simple smile can have long-term consequences.

“…The researchers were able to predict: how rewarding and long-lasting their marriages would be, how well they would score on standardized exams of well-being and general pleasure, and how inspiring they would be to others by assessing the smiles in the images. In all of the aforementioned, the people with the biggest smiles constantly came out on top…” Forbes.com was used as a source.

There’s also the Wayne State University study, which analyzed baseball cards and players’ smiles to predict how long they would live.

“…the study discovered that the length of a player’s smile can predict the length of his life! Players who didn’t grin in their photos lived only 72.9 years on average, whereas those who smiled brightly lived 79.9 years…”

Smiles convey a feeling of trustworthiness. They have the ability to impact how you or others feel about social errors. If you get yourself into some difficulty, smiles can even gain you some leniency. They’re also contagious. Spend a few moments with the happiest person you know, and you’ll be giddy with delight in no time.

It only goes to show how vital it is to practice happiness and how a simple smile on a daily basis can lead to much bigger things. So spend more time with children; they can grin up to 400 times every day, compared to only 20 times for the average adult.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: HOW SMALL CHANGES LEAD TO BIG PROGRESS

A SMART WAY TO IMPLEMENT SMALL CHANGES ON A DAILY BASIS

There’s something you can do right now to raise your chances of success by two to three times. If-Then statements are the name for this tiny technique. Dr. Heidi Grant Halverson demonstrates how an if-then statement works in this example.

“…Imagine making a weight-loss resolution for the New Year. Most people would devise a strategy that went something like this: “Eat less, exercise more.”

To begin with, it isn’t quite specific enough. How much less will you consume, and what will you eat less of? How and how often will you exercise? In the if-then version of this strategy, you’ll spell out exactly what you’ll do in a crisis.

If X occurs, I will perform Y.

X can be a date and time, such as Monday at 9 a.m., or an event, such as the introduction of a restaurant’s dessert menu. When X occurs, Y is the particular action you will do.

As a result, step one, “Eat less,” becomes “When the dessert menu arrives, I will ignore it and get coffee.” Step 2 becomes “I will work out for an hour at the gym before work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays…” Step 3 becomes “I will work out for an hour at the gym before work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays…”

According to a study on fitness, 91 percent of those who utilized if-then planning were more likely to stick to their workout schedule. In comparison, only 39% of individuals who did not apply the method did so.

In this psychology today article, Dr. Halverson goes on to say that if-then planning works so effectively because it speaks a language that your brain understands. It reminds me of some of the if X then Y stuff from high school algebra. If this occurs, the consequences are simple for your brain to comprehend.

This kind of preparedness can save you from succumbing to the “To Hell With It” syndrome. You are influenced by your mood, environment, or mojo to engage in risky conduct or make poor decisions. Using if-then phrases like If I’m in a terrible mood, I’ll… is one approach to get around this. However, it requires practice and must be done on a regular basis. Applying the notion to one thing at a time may be the most effective way to succeed.

WHAT ARE SOME SMALL HEALTH AND FITNESS CHANGES I COULD MAKE?

On the blog, there’s an article about ten simple exercise practices. However, there are a few more minor adjustments you may do to improve your health and fitness.

  • with each meal, have a dish of protein
  • consume a vegetable serving with your meal
  • Make a note of when you intend to exercise on your calendar.
  • Substitute a whole food for one processed item.
  • eat a piece of fruit as a snack
  • 10 minutes early to bed
  • 5-minute meditation
  • a glass of water to start your day
  • Make a 5-minute workout a priority.
  • take a walk
  • So that you can free up some time, enlist the support of a family member.
  • Make a meal plan for tomorrow.
  • prepare one dinner for the following day
  • Read the labels on your food to learn about the calories and serving sizes.
  • Make a list of everything you ate today and go over it with your partner at the end of the day.
  • execute an exercise using only your bodyweight
  • slowly eat (try and take 10-20 minutes)
  • Stop when you’re at least 80% filled.
  • when you’re eating, take a 2-minute rest
  • Before you eat, take note of how you’re feeling (hungry, bored, lonely, stressed, tired, bored)

ONE SMALL IMPROVEMENT AT A TIME

Many things in our lives are haphazard, and that’s perfectly fine. I wish I could have complete control over everything, but I understand that I won’t be able to, and I’m fine with that. But I’m also aware that every day, I may make small decisions that can affect my long-term performance.

The majority of the things you wish to accomplish in life aren’t really difficult. It all boils down to making consistent judgments and remaining patient enough to see improvements through.

Moving objects tend to stay in motion.

Too frequently, we simply come to a halt. We cease trying, caring, and pushing forward.

By doing so, we’re essentially telling our bodies and minds that we’ve given up. Whatever you’re doing, keep going. Keep moving forward, one day at a time, one minor action at a time.

What is one area of your life that you just don’t seem to be able to move forward? How do you intend to keep moving forward?

Justin

###

James Clear contributed to this image.

If a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, it can cause a tornado in another. The world is connected, and the effects of our actions can be felt across the globe in a matter of hours. This is called the “Butterfly Effect” and it is a very big deal when it comes to how we can improve our health.. Read more about small changes can make a big difference quote and let us know what you think.

This is a quote by Dr. Seuss."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"How do you make small changes?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" I can make small changes to my responses."}}]}

Frequently Asked Questions

How can small changes lead to bigger changes?

Small changes can lead to bigger changes by adding up.

Who said small changes can make a big difference?

This is a quote by Dr. Seuss.

How do you make small changes?

I can make small changes to my responses.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • examples of small changes making a big difference
  • small change big impact example
  • small changes make a big difference examples
  • small actions lead to big changes quotes
  • small changes lead to big results quotes
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