Start small

The breakfast insight

While I was having breakfast with my wife this morning, she was grumbling that she wasn’t rich enough to help people. I was curious why she would need lots of money to help others. She explains that she wanted to make a real impact like successful people (etc. Gates Foundation). Volunteering or donating a small amount of money is not.

I laughed because that day may never come if she needed to wait.

I suggested she could start small. For example, she can try volunteering for just one day over the weekend. Then she can slowly move to more ambitious things. Some ideas:

  • To host an all-you-can-eat event in an orphanage and play games with kids there.
  • To gather donations from colleagues and provide free food for the homeless.
  • Better, she can use her legal knowledge (she is a lawyer) to provide free legal advice and education to laborers.

There were endless things she could do to make real impacts on the world right now without the need to become rich.

I am not sure if she was convinced by what I said, but I was.

Starting small is immensely useful in many aspects of our lives. It can help us overcome procrastination by lowering mental pressure and start achieving our goals by building small success. Small achievements encourage motivation and lead to big success.

There are many things we can start small to achieve what we want:

Starting a new business

Coming up with a million-dollar business idea is daunting to most of us (at least to me). However, coming up with business ideas to make $100 or $10 next week is not. With playfulness and small experiments, we can learn and improve way faster. Once we achieve the small goal, we can build on top of the momentum and look for ways to scale.

Audience building

Forget about reaching a large tribe at once and try to please everyone. Start with one. Focus on one person, help that person with your best, and make that person your first fan. Don’t despite that humble beginning, because that is how most successful people start.

Losing weight

Before signing up for a gym membership, which you will likely waste your hard-earned money on, or thinking about running a marathon one day, we can start by taking a 5-mins walk every day. It is easy to achieve, and there is no commitment at all. If you still think a 5-min way is too much, try to stand and walk around a bit for every hour during work.

Mental health

Meditation helps enhance our mental health. However, it is tough for some newcomers to commit 10 mins a day to meditate, let alone finding private places (I tried in public, and it was awkward) and learning how to meditate. Instead, we can try doing nothing for 5 mins every day. Just walk away from the computer, sit, and daydream like we were in childhood.


Often, I started a book and found it tough to finish it. The more I wanted to finish a book, the harder I could focus. Start-small is helpful in this situation. Instead of telling myself to finish a chapter, I told myself to try to read the first sentence or even the first three words. Once I started, I would usually find myself finishing a chapter effortlessly.

Take away

There are just too many things we can apply this concept to start achieving. Most self-help literature spends a great deal of emphasis on thinking big and being ambitious. I believe they are essential for our success, but we should learn to start small to get there.

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

-- Confucius

April 28, 2022
raw thoughts

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Made by Patrick Zhong