I love looking at old photographs. They have the power to take you right back to a moment. The smells, sounds, how you felt, they really are a snapshot in time. Looking at some photos from a recent holiday, the ones I really loved weren’t those that had been choreographed but rather the ones that almost didn’t happen. They were photos that reminded me of events totally unplanned, the fruit of unexpected opportunity. The best moments all seemed to come when I went just a little bit beyond what I had originally intended.
It occurred to me that this didn’t just relate to great memories from a holiday. When we push ourselves to do more, give more, persevere and take steps out of our comfort zone, even if it’s just by a tiny scrap, we are often rewarded in magnitudes far beyond what we put in.
Doing just a little extra with consistency can lead to big returns.
Big successes are often not a result of big deeds
“Do not neglect the day of small things, for little beginnings have big endings.” Florence Scovel Shinn
Do you look around you with envy at others achieving big things? Maybe you mistakenly believe that they’re special people and their accomplishments come as a result of tremendous deeds. In reality though they come down to the small decisions and actions taken, day in and day out. Small but positive actions create positive habits which move you towards your goals and that includes big ones. If you’ve heard of the 1 percent rule, you’ll know how true that is.
The magic of tiny extras
So, what do tiny extras look like in practice?
- If you planned to exercise for 30 minutes push for 31 minutes.
- If you wanted to read 5 pages strive for 6.
- If you aimed to write for 15 minutes get to 16.
Though on the face of it these are tiny improvements, so small as to seem insignificant, their psychological and even physical impact are anything but. Stack them for long enough and they add up. Getting fitter, acquiring knowledge and becoming a better writer are the rewards for doing them day after day and week after week.
So, as I looked at my photographs, I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered my rewards. Climbing that extra bend on the hill in Alfama gave me a chance to witness a beautiful sunset over the city. Stopping to chat with a waitress sparked a wonderful conversation about the city of Lisbon and a chance to experience the most moving music I’d listened to in years. Going the distance on the city wall at Obidos delivered an oasis of peace and solitude.
Great rewards in return for so little and the same holds true for that dream life you want.
A great life starts with crafting great moments
Are there areas in your life that you can do just a little bit more, push a little harder or do a little better? Is it as simple as greeting someone with a smile instead of a frown or making the time to talk to a friend? Is it an extra two minutes for prayer or meditation or doing more reps in the gym? Maybe it’s adding a new skill to your toolkit. Whatever it is, believe in the power and reward housed inside all of those extras. Remember, those small extras add up to the big changes, the big improvements which will eventually lead to that beautiful life you’re working to create.