The small, big wins

The small, big wins

You don’t have to look far to find some pretty incredible achievements, be it paying off thousands in debt in a few short years, amassing a million pounds plus in investments or retiring (years and years!) before hitting 40. And they’re just financial achievements.

Naturally, these are the kinds of accomplishments people celebrate, write about, and share. They’re the kind of accomplishments that you and I most likely devour word by word, reading how they did it and wondering if we can emulate that same success ourselves.

Sometimes these stories are hugely uplifting and motivating, giving us new ideas, renewed energy or even being part of our epiphany- financial, or otherwise. Sometimes, while this isn’t their intention, they can leave you feeling a little lost, frustrated or even- dare I suggest- envious.

Often, achieving these huge goals becomes easier as time passes. That’s not to say a gargantuan effort didn’t go into them for a long period of time. Just that, by the time you’re at the point of reaching this kind of achievement, you have built up momentum, you have got used to doing things a certain way, you have formed strong, positive habits, and you’re springing upwards from solid foundations.

My small, big win

I realised today how much bigger the small wins are than we give credit for. Because I’ve done something that, for ten years, I didn’t have faith that I could do. It sounds like the smallest, most irrelevant thing that someone could tell you.

Today, I made a pie.

For ten years, I avoided making pie, specifically making pastry. I don’t believe it was deliberate, but at some point I erected a barrier in my mind and never questioned it. The barrier that said ‘you’re not a pastry maker’.

Perhaps this is the most ridiculous thing you’ve read. How someone could spend 10 years of their lives avoiding making pastry out of fear? I wasn’t even aware I’d built this up in my mind until I gave myself an ultimatum to use my rolling pin, or else it would be banished from my house.

Though there can be few more simple achievements, it has genuinely set the tone for the year. A tone that says more is possible than I permit myself to believe. 

In itself, it is a small win, but it paves the way for more success.

More small, big wins

So the pie is probably irrelevant to you. That’s fine. It’s big deal to me, because it’s my barrier that I broke down.

Unless you have a similar irrational fear of making pastry, I don’t particularly recommend making a pie. However, I do recommend identifying what barriers you have in your mind and taking the first small steps to your big win.

Maybe your fitness is really low. Choosing to go out for a run is a big win.

Maybe you overspend on takeaways. Choosing to home cook a meal in favour of another take out is a big win.

Maybe you’re living paycheck to paycheck. The first time you can weather an unexpected bill without resorting to borrowing more money is a big win.

Maybe the fear of losing everything is stopping you from investing. The first investment is a big win.

The incredible journey can’t begin if you don’t take a step.


23 thoughts on “The small, big wins

  1. Not ridiculous at all! I have the same fear. Because the few times a made a pie crust I was terrible at it. I’m not sure how to improve so I left it alone.

    Imagine if I had done that with my finances — I don’t even wanna think about that.

    It all begins in our minds. Great post!

    1. I wish I could give you advice on pastry- mine turned out ok (not quite as good as I would have liked) but I don’t know how much came down to luck and how much to judgement.

      So true, and if I don’t pursue pie-making in future, it doesn’t matter. I can always try new things and can persist with those that are truly important- like trying to be healthy and making sensible financial decisions 🙂

      1. Yes to This! – ” and if I don’t pursue pie-making in future, it doesn’t matter. I can always try new things and can persist with those that are truly important- like trying to be healthy and making sensible financial decisions.”

  2. I really like this idea. I think the small wins deserve more praise as well because it’s often just as hard to go from 0 to 1 (nothing to first time doing something) than 1 to 10 (novice to professional). The first small steps are almost always the hardest to take. Reminds me how compound interest works – it takes just as much time to go from $0 to $100k (“small win”) as it does to go from $600k – $1 million (“big win”) assuming consistent yearly investment returns.

    Great post 🙂

    1. Hey Zach, it really is the smallest first steps that are the hardest. I’m still riding on the positivity of my small, big step 🙂

  3. Great advice!

    It is important to take appreciation of the small wins that we accumulate throughout the years because without these small wins, the big wins can never materialize. The big wins happen because we were brave enough to make changes to our daily habits along the way, and those habits produce smaller wins in the short-term.

    My small win this past year was finally going on a theme park ride. I absolutely hate heights and the rapid falling sensation. My fiancée finally got me on a ride at Disney World, albeit Splash Mountain, but it definitely helped reduce my fear of heights and fast motion! Not sure I would do it again haha but I am happy I at least did one ride.

    1. Well done Sean. I genuinely remember the day when a switch flicked and a did a DAY of the big rides, when I’d always been way too scared. Sometimes it’s enough to know you can do something!

  4. The great thing about small, big wins is the boost they give. The interior light in my car was burnt out and I avoided having it fixed because I knew the dealership would charge me a fortune for such a small repair. Well, the imaginary light bulb went off over my head and one YouTube video, a $2 part and 5 minutes of time and voila! it was fixed! Never considering myself “handy”, successfully doing this repair was such a boost and has given me the confidence to do bigger repairs that I would have never considered before, which I am sure will be overall a big win for the finances.

    1. I can completely understand this Caron, I think I’d be the same- with the fear of the cost but also being high on my own capability. It will be a huge boon for the finances if you don’t need to outsource as much maintenance 🙂

  5. MMMM…I love pie! I really like this post too. It just reinforces the idea that you don’t know what you can accomplish unless you try. It’s easy to be afraid of failure, and maybe your first pie would come out horrible, or your first 10 pies would be inedible. But if you keep trying and learning from your mistakes you can one day make one delicious pie.

    1. I can sympathise with this. Getting behind the wheel is a responsibility that we don’t always recognise. I’m certain you’re cautious and competent though- keep giving yourself the nudge you need… and celebrate what you do do, not what you don’t!

  6. This is such an important reminder to take the first step. You’re absolutely right that we tend to celebrate success on such a grand scale that we miss all the day-by-day moments where people just put their heads down and went to work. Love it!

  7. Three cheers for small wins! I just wrote about this on my own blog. Over the past 20 plus years I’ve had an assortment of mortgages and had never reached the point on any of them where more of the payment was going to principal instead of interest and escrow. We’ve finally crossed that line in January 2018 through a concerted effort to pay off the mortgage on our cabin. Reaching this cross over point is a small thing but it’s had a significant impact on my mindset. It’s brought home the fact that a mortgage is truly a finite amount of money and can be paid off early.

    Thanks for posting this! I would love to celebrate small wins over a slice of pie.

    1. Woop woop, that is a celebration Brian! It is finite and hopefully that end point comes closer and quickly. I have no doubt you can pay it off early, best of luck with it!

  8. I’ve learned that many things arent as bad as they seem once you get started and give it a try. I’ve also fixed a lot myself just by watching Youtube and making the effort. The confidence you gain really helps you build momentum for next time. Patience and some self discipline will get you there. Great post.

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