Small Daily Steps = Lasting Change

Categories life, Sustainability

I have a little sign in my office that I made three years ago to remind myself of something I forget with remarkable skill and consistency.

I don’t remember if I got this from someone else or actually coined it myself. Either way it is a reminder to me that small steps taken every day bring about radical and lasting change. (If I owe someone else credit for this thought, my apologies.)

You see I have this crazy capacity to believe that a big short-term push, an inspiring new idea, a good intention, or even a grand gesture, is enough to break the power of inertia and create momentum for significant change. The truth is quite the opposite. The consistent progress and pressure of one step after another creates new habits, a new way of life, new culture, new stories. The stuff of real progress. The fruit of change we long for.

Take the obvious challenges of getting in shape or losing weight. You don’t reach the finish line on day one. You take step one on day one. And, that first step is generally a very small even symbolic one. However, if on day 287 you are still taking the next daily step, I guarantee you are living into a new future.

It’s the same with building team culture, shaping organizational momentum, or achieving any form of personal goals. An emotionally loaded big deal effort on one day doesn’t change anything really. The consistent application of new behavior and new patterns every day will change everything over time. (OK, the radical intervention of God would be an exception. But, even God’s intervention calls us to live into a new reality every day.)

This morning I was thinking about the things I have learned—and forgotten, and re-learned—about the daily rhythms my soul needs to thrive. For me, I’d say it this way, I literally need a daily sabbatical.

That is, every day I need to take some time where I withdraw fromthe tentacles of technology, tasks on my to do list, and demands of people, in order to withdraw into solitude with God, reading, and writing. I don’t need to do it now and then. I need a daily sabbatical everyday if I am going to be the man I long to be.

Looking at the fall that lies ahead, I have a lot of travel and a lot of big assignments. I cannot live the life I want, thrive with a non-anxious presence, or sustain soul-anchoring intimacy with Christ without maintaining a daily sabbatical. It is one of my daily essentials.


I’m curious. What is one thing you need to do every day?

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