Tiny Leaps, Big Changes

Everyday Strategies to Accomplish More, Crush Your Goals, and Create the Life You Want

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By Gregg Clunis

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Achieve your goals and crush procrastination with these practical personal development strategies based on the hit podcast Tiny Leaps, Big Changes by Gregg Clunis.

In today’s world, we are constantly overloaded with positive messages, such as “follow your passion,” or “dream big,” that are supposed to spark change and accomplishments in our lives. But why doesn’t anyone ever give practical advice on how exactly to achieve those lofty goals?

Tiny Leaps, Big Changes explores the reality behind personal development — that all big changes come from the small decisions we make every day. Using scientific and psychological research, Gregg Clunis shows you what hidden factors drive our behavior and gives you the tools to form helpful, daily habits to accomplish your goals.

After reading Tiny Leaps, Big Changes, you’ll know how to crush procrastination, double your productivity, and lessen the gap between what you want for your life and how you get it.

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

THE STORY OF IMMIGRANTS

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

—Lao-Tzu

On December 26, 2000, my family and I moved to the United States. I was seven years old, and I hadn’t seen my dad for roughly nine months.

My family had been separated, not because we didn’t want to be together, but because my parents were choosing to make an enormous change. One that would affect the direction of our lives forever.

At the time, the economy was in a tough place. Work was scarce, money was tight, and opportunities were limited. In response, my parents made the bold decision to sell everything they owned, pack a few bags, and move their family to a new country. Yup, we were heading from the small island of Jamaica to the land of opportunity: the United States of America.

When you make a major change like this, you can’t just jump into it and expect good results—it takes planning, groundwork, and a whole lot of trust. My parents decided that my father would go to the States a few months ahead of us in order to secure a job and find a place to live. Once he had accomplished that goal, he would send for us and we’d be reunited. Seems easy, right? I was too young at the time to understand what was happening during that period in our lives, but I knew it wasn’t easy—it was really difficult.

There is not a single person on the planet who wants to be separated from the people they love, especially not for months on end. But my parents had a specific goal in mind, an outcome they wanted, and they knew that sacrifice was required in order to accomplish it.

Nine months later, we were reunited, but the struggle was nowhere close to finished. Over the next eighteen years, my mother and father would sacrifice over and over again to ensure that our family could survive and make things work. This story isn’t uncommon. In fact, it’s been played out millions of times. Scrappy immigrants leave their country for the land of opportunity, work hard, contribute to society, and find the life they were looking for. It’s the entire basis of the American dream.

The brave people who pursue that American dream don’t get enough credit. When you pack up and move for a better life, you essentially start over with nothing: no money, no social capital, few friendships, and no connection to your local community. The obstacles in front of a newly minted immigrant are huge. If you are willing to face them, it’s likely because you have a strong reason.

For my parents, that reason was me and my sister, Sherri-Ann, who was just about to graduate from high school. They knew that the financial and career opportunities in the States could benefit us both and so they took actions to make them available to us. Thanks to their hard work, I never wanted for much. Everything I needed was taken care of, and being the younger child, I can assure you that my family would say I was spoiled. I was, but I also saw firsthand what it cost my parents to be able to spoil me.

Growing up watching their struggle, their willingness to deal with it, and the results it has produced taught me a fundamental lesson about the world: that while not everyone will be a millionaire or have a six-pack or find the love of their life, everyone is capable of setting a clear goal and taking the actions required to move toward it. It’s this experience that drives my current life philosophy, my podcast, and now this book.

All big changes in your life come from the tiny leaps you take every day.

Tiny leaps every single day are what my parents took after they made the decision that they would leave Jamaica. Tiny leaps every single day are what allowed them, after arriving here, to work twelve-hour days and overnight shifts—at the cost of time with their kids. Tiny leaps every single day are what allowed them to recover, both financially and emotionally, after working hard to buy a house, only to lose it during the height of the Great Recession.

You may be reading this book because you are looking for some secret knowledge to help you achieve everything you’ve ever wanted. Perhaps you’ve read countless personal development books for the same reason and thought, Maybe this one will finally tell me the secret to changing my life.

Well, you’re right. This book does contain the secret to changing your life, and I’m going to reveal it to you.

Are you ready?

The secret to changing your life in any area is to set a clear goal, audit the behaviors you engage in each day, and then make changes to those behaviors to make progress toward that goal.

This focus on goal setting and day-to-day behavioral modification has allowed immigrants from all around the world to leave their country, start with nothing, and build comfortable lives.

This focus has allowed men and women to come from humble means and rise to the heights of Olympic championship, even when the odds were against them.

This focus has allowed self-made entrepreneurs to build massive wealth, create livelihoods for others, and bring value to the marketplace, all while simultaneously changing the world around them.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

You know that if you want to be healthier, you simply need to clarify your goal, audit your diet and exercise behaviors, and then make changes. You know that if you want to make more money, all it requires is being straightforward about it, looking at your behaviors at work or in your spare time, and making changes to move you toward higher pay.

You know all of this.

So my question is, why are you reading yet another self-help book in search of an answer you already have?

The truth is that you picked up this book because it’s easier to keep searching for an answer than it is to take action. Reading self-help books gives you the impression of being productive when, really, it’s just another form of procrastination. We all do it. The good news is, this is not a self-help book.

The self-help and personal development industries have made the act of self-improvement far more complicated than it actually is. We learn about things like “manifesting” and “The Secret,” and we end up thinking that the process of changing our lives is something special and unattainable. The result is that there are millions of people out there who don’t pay any attention to self-improvement. They hear the lingo, see the cultlike community, and immediately shut out the message.

So I say that this is not self-help because it isn’t—it’s your daily life and the natural human instinct to move one step forward each day.

Throughout this book, you won’t hear a single peep about “manifesting” your future. What you’ll see instead is a simple framework for how to look at your life, decide what you want, and take the actions that move you toward that reality.

You won’t be told to find your passion or follow your dreams. Instead I’ll talk about the flaws of passion, why the pursuit of it might be doing more damage than it’s worth, and what you should follow instead. There will be no jargon, no exclusivity, and no “us against them” mentality. All you’ll find in this book is practical advice on what is required to create change in your life.

So without further ado, grab a cup of coffee and get ready for the ride, because you are now reading Tiny Leaps, Big Changes.




PART I

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE




CHAPTER ONE

WHAT IS CHANGE?

The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.

—C. JoyBell C.

A little over three years ago, while living in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Manhattan, I stumbled across a networking event called Thrive Dinners. They were peculiar events where, each month, a few dozen twenty-somethings would get together in a food court to talk, meet new people, and share what they were most excited about in their careers. I only ever attended three events, but they were always packed with some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

The first time I went, I didn’t really know anyone, and I’ll be honest, I was nervous. I’d been to networking events in the city before, but they were usually pretty frustrating experiences filled with lawyers and accountants trying to bring me on as a client. Not exactly my scene. It seemed like Thrive Dinners would be exactly the same, and being alone made it much worse.

So there I was, by myself, at a random networking event, with nothing interesting to discuss. In search of someone to talk to, I stumbled over to a table that didn’t seem too packed. In front of me sat a guy with messy brown hair wearing a patterned button-up shirt with the top two buttons undone. He had a pretty relaxed vibe about him, which made it much easier for me to approach him and say hello.

This is how I met Matt Kohn.

He was what some might consider a modern hippie—all about peace, love, positivity, and parties. That’s how I would have described him. But throughout our conversation, he regularly spoke about the business ideas he had and the blog he wanted to start. He asked me about my projects and listened with a keen interest. He showed a genuine excitement for what others were doing and asked questions to learn more. By the time our conversation ended, it was made clear that he didn’t just want more from his life—he was starving for it.

A few months later, he sent me a Facebook message saying, “Change of plans. I might move to Medellín, Colombia.” Eighteen months later came a new life update: Matt lives in Colombia for roughly six months of the year, he’s met a girl he describes to me as “the love of his life,” and he runs his dream company, a digital agency called Different Hunger Media.

If you look at his story on the surface, it might seem like a typical overnight success. He was frustrated at his job, decided to quit and follow his passion, and was successful. You might say, “Well, he just got lucky, I couldn’t do that.” Or you might even say, “Some people are just able to do stuff like that. I certainly can’t.”

The problem with both of these statements is that they are only half right. You would be right in saying that you probably wouldn’t find the exact success that he’s found. After all, even if you took the exact same actions, your life and situation are still different from his. But you’d be wrong in thinking that he just got “lucky.” If Matt got “lucky,” it was purely because he chose to create that luck at the expense of everything else. It seems like he made a major leap in his life, completely disrupted his norm, and found success in his risk, but by the end of this chapter, I think you’ll agree that his success came from small, incremental steps each and every day—steps that started well before he and I had ever met.

In order to prove this, we need to break down Matt’s choices, but first, we’ll need a framework for what change looks like and how we each experience it. Then we’ll apply that framework to Matt’s story and see how it plays out.

THE SIX STAGES OF PERSONAL CHANGE

Over the last two years, 280-plus episodes of my podcast, and massive amounts of time researching and thinking about how change happens in an individual’s life, I’ve made many attempts to identify what exactly change looks like. After all, it seems silly that we all want to change our lives, but most of us don’t even know what that would mean.

Here’s my hypothesis, developed after countless conversations with people far more qualified than I over the last two years: Each person’s experience of change is different, but the psychological aspects of that change are more or less the same.

To better understand what I mean, think of the Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler.1 You and I may have a different personal experience with grief, but according to their model, the stages we go through are similar regardless of how they present themselves.

The same holds true for any kind of change, so allow me to introduce you to the Six Stages of Personal Change, a model I pieced together that represents a step-by-step process we must each go through when trying to change our lives.

Stage One: Inspiration

“Hey, just so you know, work starts at 9:00 a.m.”

It was 9:45 a.m., and thanks to various delays on New York City’s subway system, I found myself sprinting out of the subway and across two intersections just to make it into work—forty-five minutes late. This wasn’t something I did often. I usually tried to be on time, but this day was not shaping up to be a good one, and to make matters worse, I now had to endure a series of passive-aggressive comments from my boss about tardiness. I’m not sure why this one infraction incurred his wrath; my only guess is that it was either a serious issue, one worthy of bringing up, or that he was having a bad morning and needed to get out his own frustrations.

Whatever it was, the comments left a bad taste in my mouth. I knew I was a good employee, that I worked hard to bring value to the company, and that the ideas I brought to the table were directly benefiting our bottom line. If this had been an isolated incident, I’m sure I would have just gotten over it and dealt with my failure, but thanks to the ever-present negativity of our work environment, this experience quickly turned into my last straw.

Naturally, I spent the next few days looking and applying for new jobs on my lunch break. After all, if my boss wasn’t going to appreciate the work I did, I would find a different company that would.

Does this sound familiar? The first piece of the puzzle when it comes to changing our lives is something we experience often: frustration. Each of us has something in our lives that causes it. It may be a job we dislike, friendships we no longer benefit from, a lack of finances, how we feel when we look in the mirror… Whatever it may be, if used correctly, that frustration can become a catalyst for creating change. We naturally try to do what we can to move away from frustration and toward something that better fits what we are looking for.

So then why is it that we don’t all change our lives every single time we feel frustrated? Because there is another piece of the puzzle that needs to be in place: a moment of inspiration that is strong enough to open our minds to other options.

Here’s the difference: You might get frustrated at your job. Maybe your boss is asking too much of you and isn’t willing to pay you a fair salary in order to get it, or maybe it’s just not a challenging environment. For most of us, it ends there. We have a moment of frustration and then we suck it up and stick with the program.

But what if right at the moment you felt frustrated with your job, you heard about a former coworker who was just as frustrated as you but chose to quit three months ago and is now doing work they love? Or what if you were to stumble across a video about how one of your role models had hit rock bottom right before they got their break that allowed them to accomplish all of their dreams?

The inspiration you feel from either of these situations would give you just enough momentum to take the next step rather than fall back into the same pattern. Once you find that inspiration, you’ll be able to move into Stage Two, which is all about exploring what options are available to you.

Stage Two: Curiosity

Once you’ve experienced the combination of being frustrated by your current situation and being inspired to make a change, you’ll naturally start to ask, “What else is out there?”

This is the stage where someone starts searching through job listings, checking out diets, or looking for ways to make money from home. At this point, you aren’t quite ready to commit, but you are weighing your options and trying to imagine yourself in a different place. This is a necessary step in the process and shouldn’t be rushed.

Your goal during this stage should simply be to experience everything you can. You need to see what is out there, what it’s like, and decide whether or not something could be a good direction for you. The problem is that for most people who make it to this stage, it’s the end of the road. Searching for options creates a feeling of progress, even if none is actually there. This false feeling could derail your search by providing your brain with some of the short-term benefits that are associated with changing your situation.

For example, when you get frustrated at work and start searching for new job opportunities, you may start to feel like you’ve made progress because you looked at five or six listings and even applied for one or two of them. That feeling undermines the difficult process of making a real change and could end in your falling back into the routine of everyday life before you know it. This is a huge problem if your goal is to actually change your life. Beyond that, there is another potential trap: setting this stage as the goal itself.

Let’s say you get frustrated at work. That night you cook yourself a nice meal, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, and start looking into other jobs. The next morning, you may not even remember why you were frustrated. Instead you just remember that you had a pleasant evening.

This happens because of something called the fading affect bias,2 also known as FAB. According to Wikipedia, FAB is “a psychological phenomenon in which information regarding negative emotions tends to be forgotten more quickly than that associated with pleasant emotions.” You were frustrated at work but the next morning you are more likely to remember the nice evening you had. This can be good for everyday life, but if you really want to leave your job, it can get in the way by downplaying your frustrations, which makes it harder to use them to your advantage. With that said, if you can avoid these pitfalls in Stage Two and manage to make it to Stage Three, you’ll be over the two major sticking points in this process and on your way to finally creating the change you’ve always wanted.

Stage Three: Connection

You’ll come across a lot of options in Stage Two. Many will seem great, others will seem impossible, but before you can start to change your life, you first need to find an option that feels right and excites you while simultaneously seeming doable. You need to identify with the new option; otherwise you’ll never feel as though it’s possible.

Genre:

  • I love Gregg's philosophy on changing your life: It's all about adjusting your day-to-day behavior. This book is a clear, concise guide for doing just that. Go create the life you deserve!—Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief, Entrepreneur Magazine
  • This is not a self-help book--this is a playbook for making real change in your life, one small step at a time. I highly recommend it!
    Ryan Carson, founder and CEO of Treehouse
  • Refreshingly honest and REAL! A step-by-step guide to achieving anything you want. I'd recommend [Tiny Leaps, Big Changes] for anyone wanting to move forward in their mindset, strategy, and goals!—Erika De La Cruz, TV host, bestselling author, and founder of Passion to Paycheck

On Sale
Jan 15, 2019
Page Count
224 pages
Publisher
Center Street
ISBN-13
9781546082750

Gregg Clunis

About the Author

Gregg Clunis is a content creator and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Tiny Ventures, LLC, where he is focused on creating the education, tools, and resources to help everyday people improve their lives. He’s the host of Tiny Leaps, Big Changes, a top-ranked self-help podcast that makes personal development simple. Gregg is passionate about understanding why people do the things they do, utilizing design thinking to solve complex problems, and sharing his personal experiences with others in the hopes of having a positive influence.

Learn more about this author