Small incremental change often outperforms large-scale change

Tags: Health Change Management Habits Human Behaviour

Taking small, incremental steps toward a desired outcome is often more effective over the long-term than large, herculean efforts.

In Atomic Habits, James clear recounts a strategy adopted by the British Cycling Team called "the aggregation of marginal gains." The team's approach was to identify many opportunities for minor improvements. Together, these small adjustments would add up to a significant improvement. (Conversely, the accretion of many small missteps can turn into a major problem.)

Clear advises people who want to adopt new habits to make the new habit as easy as possible to start. This often means adopting very small habits that over time will accumulate into a big change. Ideally, he says, a new desired behaviour should take less than two minutes to do.

Essentially, a 1% improvement every day quickly compounds faster and with less risk than a 50% or 100% improvement that takes longer and is more difficult to implement and maintain.


Clear 2018