Small Good Vs Small Bad: Take away from Atomic Habits Part 1

Imagine you are flying from Los Angeles to New York City. If a pilot leaving from LAX adjusts the heading just 3.5 degrees south, you will land in Washington D.C., instead of New York. Such a small change is barely noticeable at the takeoff- the nose of the plane just moves a few feet – but when magnifies across the entire United states, you end up hundreds of miles apart.

From the Book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear

Through the above example in book the author tries to bring up the importance of the small change carried over a period. A small modulation can lead to bigger impacts which at times may be beyond our imagination. This invisible impact at times leads to misinterpretation of the significance of a small change.

When we want to achieve some improvement, the small starting steps does not show any visible impact in the starting period. This static period in terms of results leads to giving up the activity. Mostly the projects are dropped in this phase of the development plan. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to continue till the threshold point. As there is no significant change visible it is tough to gain enthusiasm. Our mind starts suspecting the plan and there are anxious changes done to the steps decided. We can all relate to some of the activity in our lives that we started and dropped as it seemed to not progress at all.

• Exercise plans and diet plans fail to go over more than few weeks as the scale does not seem to budge even to slight angle.

• Enthusiasm to learn some hobby is killed as we seem to not improve in the skill.

As the positive changes seem to fall prey to the initial static curve of the change graph. Contrary to same the negatives are mostly harbored in this period.

When we fall in trap of some negative routine or habit; the ill effects of same do not seem dangerous on the very first day. In-fact in the initial period it appears to be negligible and we feel to be in control of the situation. We feel that we are just doing it today and can leave it when we want. However slowly and steadily; we get gripped in the clutches strong enough for us to escape.

Irony is that the people notice only the moment of success or failure whereas the entire drama lies in the smallest moments.The moments of the process to improve or degrade lay the foundation on which the final product is established.

Science teaches us that the stage of transformation from one state to other state is attained at a specific degree on the scale. However, to reach the certain degree we need to scale up or scale down each degree one by one.

Human beings are always fascinated by bigger pictures. When the children are in junior grades, they are always fascinated to do bigger tasks. My son always wants to do the acrylic paintings while I struggle to explain him the importance of improving strokes of the crayon colors or oil pastels first as a foundation. The activity of completing the sketches using the crayons seems insignificant to his goal of excelling his painting skills. While I struggle to explain the details of minor improvements to him, I have lost the count of my own failed exercise regimes that did not last a period of 15 days. “As the weighing scale is not moving; does not seem worth it.

We all become victim of this worthless period. It requires grit and determination to take us across this period and see the results of these small changes.

So next time when you measure anything positive, wait for some time; though, if it is not a very good habit, sooner is better to stop the unwanted effects of same in our lives.


Learner for life, from life

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  1. Nisha

    So well explained Realty….I think almost everyone faces such situations over a period of time.