Micro-actions are steps toward a goal that are sooooo small, anyone can take them. They seem so small that they are virtually effortless, so small that not even the most unmotivated can refuse to do them, not if they want to keep a straight face or maintain any semblance of commitment to progress.
A micro-action would be reading one page of a book that you KNOW you should read, that you KNOW contains stuff you need to know, need to do, need to incorporate into your life but….you are tired, it is late and…that chapter a night goal you had been so enthused about earlier seems laughable now. Answer to your problem: Make a real promise to yourself that all you have to do is read a page a night. That’s all. One page. Do that and it’s done. That’s a minute or two at most! No matter how exhausted you are you can do that, right? That’s a micro-action!
Do your micro-action and you will be surprised how many times you do more, how many times you get caught up in the activity, how many times you end up actually enjoying it and doing far more than you thought you would. And even if you don’t, even at a page a night you’ll finish most books in well under a year and that is one more book than you would have read without your micro-action.
A micro-action I do is one nightly sentence in my journal. Often that is all I write. Occasionally, my pen takes flight and I write extensively. Yet another micro-action is one morning push-up. That usually leads to many more but, on occasion, one has been it. And that is okay.
I am indebted to my friend, Jim Estill, for the term micro-action. I had heard of and used the idea before, but Jim introduced me to the term micro-action via his book on time management called “Time Leadership.” I love terms that perfectly capture the essence of a concept in a memorable way. Jim and I met through Young Presidents’ Organization. He is a dedicated runner and CEO of SYNNEX Canada, “a global information technology supply chain” (sorry Jim, I’ve only the vaguest idea what that phrase means but it sounds cutting edge and business cool), which must be a big, important company because it is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (SNX). Jim also is on the board of Research in Motion or RIM. For you non-techies, they are the folks who bring you your Blackberry. You can check out Jim’s blog at www.jimestill.com.
Jim tells of a woman who was having trouble motivating herself to exercise. Finally she committed to the simple act of changing into her exercise clothes, that and nothing more. However, that micro-action was enough to get her out the door for a walk. Once a base pattern has been established, additional micro-actions can be added to create even more leverage.
I once read that if you put enough gears on it, you can get a lawnmower engine to pull a freight train. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that the underlying principle is valid: break anything down into small enough increments and it is doable. As the saying goes, “inch by inch, life is a cinch.”
I hope you will find a way to apply the concept of micro-action to your life in a fruitful way.