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One Small Step Can Change Your Life

We live and we learn to take
One step at a time
There’s no need to rush
It’s like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It’s gonna happen when it’s
Supposed to happen and we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time

When you can’t wait any longer
But there’s no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It’s your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time.

~ One Step at a Time (Jordin Sparks)

Every path to success has been littered with doubt, fear, and uncertainty, as well as persistence, calculated risks and repeated action.

The difference between someone who fails and someone who succeeds is the courage to act, repeatedly.

The only way you get the courage to act “repeatedly” is when you break the act into small steps.

That’s the way…

  • I learned to speak – one word at a time
  • I learned to read – one word at a time.
  • I learned to write – one word at a time.
  • I learned to walk – one step at a time.
  • I learned to run – one step at a time.
  • I learned to save – one rupee at a time.
  • I quit coffee – one mug at a time.
  • Safal Niveshak was built – one tribesman at a time.

One Small Step…
One Small Step Can Change Your Life – The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer is an amazing book referred by Prof. Sanjay Bakshi in his interview with Safal Niveshak last year.

It’s a small book but talks about the big idea of “Kaizen”, which is Japanese for “taking small steps to continual improvement”.

Think of the last time you set out to bring about a major change in your life – like starting a new project or business, learning how to invest on your own, starting an exercise regime, or learning to break a bad habit.

What did you feel? Exhaustion? Excitement? Fear?

Most people, when faced with change, will feel at least some element of fear. And very often that fear can get in the way of actually making the change.

The idea of Kaizen is to make such small changes in your life that your brain doesn’t even know you’re changing, and therefore, doesn’t get in the way.

There are six strategies Maurer talks about in his book that can help you bring about big changes in your life over a period of time. These strategies are:

  1. Asking small questions
  2. Thinking small thoughts
  3. Taking small actions
  4. Solving small problems
  5. Giving small rewards
  6. Recognizing small moments

Start Small…Very Small
Basically, this book teaches you how to put Kaizen into practice through small questions, small thoughts, small actions, and small moments. It encourages you that, even if you’ve tried and tried to reach a goal, but always found yourself failing, Kaizen can help you get there by bypassing your brain’s “fear” response.

Usually, if we try to tackle a big life change all at once – like completely cutting out coffee, or learning to invest in the stock market, or learning to form the reading habit – it might work for a while, but then we’ll self-sabotage.

This is because the big changes have triggered the brain’s subconscious fears which end up hindering you in the long run.

So, taking small steps — sometimes so small that they seem ridiculous — is the way to get past that and succeed.

Like, when it comes to investing in the stock market, we overwhelm ourselves with big questions like “How can I pick the best stock for my portfolio?” or “How will I ever become a successful investor when others have failed?”

Kaizen tells me that I must focus on the small questions instead – “If becoming a successful investor were my first priority, what would I do differently today?” or “What little step could I take today towards learning how to pick stocks effectively?”

So, if you want to form the habit of reading one annual report a day, start with reading one page of an annual report a day, then increase it to two pages, then three, and so on.

I have seen a lot of tribesmen getting overwhelmed by the “so-much-to-read-and-so-little-time” feeling, which is natural. The way I got over this feeling myself was to read one book at a time and then move to the next one.

It’s also how I learned to meditate. Sitting quietly for 30 minutes – thinking and doing nothing – seemed awful to me. But then I started with “meditating” one minute a day, then two minutes, then three minutes, and so on.

The idea is to make it simple, habitual, and fun. And nobody can say they don’t have an extra minute a day, right?

You see, the big, bold actions – like the lofty New Year resolutions – often get us initial results, but don’t take into account things like lack of time, exhaustion, fear, or resistance.

The smaller steps, however, get us to the goal because they can be so easily incorporated into daily life.

So whether it’s about quitting a bad habit or forming a good one, the idea must be to start small…very small…and then build on it over time.

Like I am trying to do with my morning walk regime…


You Become What You Believe
Mahatma Gandhi said…

Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.

It all starts with one belief, one thought, one word, one action, one habit, one value…and that makes one destiny.

Successful investing follows the same route.

Just take one small step at a time.


Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program, which simply means that if you purchase a book on Amazon from a link on this site, I receive a small commission. The book does not cost you any extra. I give 100% of the commission away for the betterment of the under-privileged.

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Anil Valecha says:

    Thanks for this, Vishal. Truly motivated this morning for me.

  2. Indeed small steps can help complete a long journey.
    The whole sense of urgency makes us forget the small steps and we start trying leaps and at times fall with a thud !

  3. After following you for over a year I am scared to buy any more stock without reading the annual reports. I am no longer a sheep. Thank you.

    the ideas I am currently looking at are – Rossell India, Borosil, wim Plast and piccadilly Agro.

    Thanks
    #Deepak

  4. Excellent post. Small steps makes delaying gratification easy and sustainable. Tremendous work Vishal!

    ~Yogendra

  5. check out BJ Fogg ( stanford prof ) on habit change … same concept with some more variables … just type it on you tube …

  6. Excellent post…Vishal ji………..as always….
    Here is something interesting i came across…while suring on net…
    A Report by Credit Sussie on “Measing the Moat”
    i think..you and our fellow tribesmen would like it….
    here it the link to that report.

    Regards,
    Kishor.

  7. Ramesh Kumar M says:

    Very useful post Vishal. This year (from Jan to June) i have reduced 13 kg of weight in 6 months by following almost what you said in this post.
    I have simple and sure suggestions that would work for any person without any doubt.
    1. “Keep faith in yourself & The God” I am not talking any religious thing here. Its your spirituality only. I kept on telling myself that my duty is to keep going and everything else will be taken care by god. Believe me your mind would quit 100 times before your body actually does it for you. I repeatedly told myself that i am not going to stop.
    2. “Focus on progress i.e. how much you have to finish today and ignore problems (to be more precise- ‘excuses’ like enough for the day, my bady is paining, it is going to rain, tomorrow i will cover more distance…so on).
    3. Have a definite and simple measurment criteria. I have Runtastic app which i have on my windows phone for measuring the distantce, Calories burnt, time etc. Measurement gives us motivation. Without measurement, for sure, mind starts playing tricks like it must be 5 km already or oh god i should have burned 1000 Kcal by now.

    Here are my results in case you are interested know “to waht extent the above tips may be useful”
    I had started with 1 km walking which i conitnued for 40 days for a length of 2.6 km. Later, i realized that my body is capable of taking much more hence started jogging/ running i had kept on increasing it and incidentally on two occasions i ran 10 km in a session. Now, i am running/ jogging 6.0 km a day, atleast 5 days a week.

  8. Surendra Nerurkar says:

    Old fashioned bucket and lota should replace bathtubs .No elevators.No scooters.Dance with kids.Play with pets ,wrestle with your partner and U wont require small, mini, micro, fractions, etc etc. Planning causes STRESS. Fun brings the life back.

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