A few years ago, I was watching a documentary about the science behind Lance Armstrong and his cycling gear. Through analysis in a wind tunnel, Armstrong’s team was able to make minor tweaks to his uniform and positioning in order to drastically improve his performance.
Just by changing his helmet (which was already top of the line), they estimated they improved his time by 23 seconds. Sit back and watch 23 seconds go by on the clock – that incredible difference was made by just tweaking his helmet!
It was one small change – but over miles and miles, it had a great effect.
Small changes add up. But yet, we so often neglect this concept.
The Allure of the Big Changes
We tend to be attracted to the big changes.
I certainly am that way, if I’m honest. If my new year’s resolution was to lose weight, I planned to exercise 28 hours every day and eat a maximum of 20 calories every week.
If I want to get serious about my spiritual growth, I want to go through a four-year seminary program in the next week and a half.
Imagine the major things we could do and the major goals we could achieve if we changed our lives in major ways!
The Problem with Big Changes
But this “major change” philosophy has a few drawbacks.
1) Major changes are often unsustainable.
I might really put up a good effort out of the gate, but a week later I’ve given up and have fallen back into my old ways.
2) Requiring major changes is paralyzing.
If we think that the only way to accomplish anything worthwhile is to go all out with drastic changes to our lives, then we’ll miss opportunities for small changes that could have a strong cumulative effect.
If I have my eye set on 28 hours of exercise as the only acceptable method, then I won’t be inspired to skip dessert or try to fit in a 30 minute walk in the afternoon. Those “wimpy changes” don’t seem like enough.
Small Changes Have Power
Don’t think for a minute that those small tweaks are insignificant. More goals are achieved through tiny, incremental changes than one-time, dramatic acts of willpower.
Think back to Lance Armstrong’s helmet. What if that small change was added to another small change the next day, and another small change the next day, and another small change the next day…
Take our time management, for instance (Yeah, I know you’re wondering when this was going to get around to actually talking about our time stewardship).
So you want to be a good steward of your time. You decide you’ll wake up at 4:30 in the morning, have a great quiet time, read for a long period of time, exercise, work a full day (all the while maintaining perfect focus) – well, that’s good.
I would be encouraged by your zeal. Honestly, it’s not a bad thing to want to big changes. Please don’t misunderstand the point of this post. I’m not saying big changes are bad – I’m saying don’t think that they’re the only way to change.
What if you read that description of getting up at 4:30 and your eyes got really big? What if you’re thinking that there’s no way you could maintain that daily routine?
Well, start with something small – like using a timer at work and staying focused for 30-minute intervals. Or maybe something like making it a point to read a spiritually edifying book for half an hour when you’d normally watch TV.
Then make another small change the next week. And then another. And then another.
Pretty soon, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.
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