Building Confidence and Momentum with Little Victories

Do you make your bed every day? I remember growing up my mom would always get on my case before school if I hadn’t made my bed yet. Throughout college I could probably count the number of times on one hand that I made the bed before leaving for the day. I’m definitely better about it now but there’s still room for improvement. Which is why this concept really stuck out to me:  What if I told you that by forming the habit of making your bed every morning you could drastically change your life, would you believe it? What if I told you that by making your bed each morning it would be the first step towards building unstoppable momentum in your life, would you do it?

We’ve all experienced the power of momentum before but you might not have been conscious of it. Have you ever felt like things were just going right? That everything seems to click all of a sudden? Or on the other side, you’ve found that when it rains it pours? We’ve all been on the receiving end of the momentum that we’ve created in our lives but how often are we conscious of it? And are you open to taking action to change your momentum for the better?

Little changes, repeated over a long period of time will yield a big difference.

Follow Through

In 2014 Admiral William H. McRaven delivered the commencement address to the graduates of UT Austin and the theme of his speech was centered around the idea that to change the world, the first thing you should do is form the habit of making your bed every morning.

What starts as a simple idea is quickly dismantled into a much deeper principle on how to build momentum, shape your mindset, and take control of the day you’ve been given. Making your bed is a decision that might not be life altering at first, but it is a daily choice to doing the little things right, lest you fall victim to your own selfish desires to push things off, to give it half the effort, or to simply avoid the things that might not be inherently fun. He went on to say of his time as a Navy SEAL,

Making my bed correctly was not going to be an opportunity for praise. It was expected of me. It was my first task of the day, and doing it right was important. It demonstrated my discipline. It showed my attention to detail, and at the end of the day it would be a reminder that I had done something well, something to be proud of, no matter how small the task.”

Admiral McRaven is talking about building a habit of follow through—doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Which in turn gives you confidence when you look back on the little decisions you made for the better. You can then tackle the larger, harder things with the confidence that you are someone who gives it your best with the right attitude.

Feedback Loops

Admiral McRaven also uncovered the power of the feedback loop when he made the decision to make his bed each and every morning.

In its simplest form the feedback loop is the science behind what we know as momentum. When you decide to do something no matter how small and you follow through on it, you’ve proven to yourself that you are able, capable, committed, and that you are someone who does what they say they will do when they say they will do it. For every right decision we make, we incrementally continue to build the power of the positive feedback we are letting our minds digest and internalize.

The trick though is that the same effect happens on the other side of the coin—when you say you are going to do something and you do not. Again, it may not be a life altering decision at first, but over time it will continue to weaken your resolve, your commitment, and your internal confidence to tackle the harder things in life.

I’ll venture to say that you could completely change the trajectory of your day, week, month, and year if you felt like you could accomplish your goals with full confidence. I emphasize felt because what we are identifying as a feeling is in fact a mindset.

So how do we build that mindset? How do we build momentum? How do we get back on track when we lose our momentum?

Little Victories

I first saw Roger Seip speak in Nashville, TN at Sales School before my first summer selling books door to door with Southwestern Advantage. Roger was, and still is, a hilarious keynote speaker, bringing the audience to tears in laughter while actually imparting impactful wisdom along the way. He has been studying the way the mind works for years and wrote a book called Train your Brain for Success. One of the critical concepts Roger discusses changed my perspective on how we build (or don’t build) momentum:

Your brain is always working. Your brain is either working for you or against you, but it’s always working. And it’s vital to understand that your brain’s default setting for how it works is not very helpful. When it comes to your brain’s natural tendencies, there’s bad news, good news, and really good news.”

So, in short, everything we do is unconsciously categorized into being an inherently good or an inherently bad decision. Every bit of information that we process around the decisions we make is categorized into that good/bad cycle that is either building us up or unconsciously tearing us down. (Remember feedback loops?)

The part of Roger’s keynote that stuck out to me the most was his mindset behind how he started his day. When Roger sold books with Southwestern Advantage back in the 1990s he was a top producer, leader, and recruiter who broke company records and smashed his own goals. He attributed a lot of that success to his mindset and the power of momentum he worked to build before he even started the day.

As he would go up to his first door of the morning at 7:59 am he would tell himself, “I’m 15 – 0 so far. Today is going to be a GREAT day!”

15 – 0?

Roger called these his “Little Victories.” They were a series of simple decisions that would help him long term that were not difficult, but by doing each and every one of them each and every morning, his choices would start to form a positive feedback loop. His morning would have looked like something this:

  1. Wake-up 5:59 am, no snooze
  2. Jump out of bed and say some positive affirmations
  3. Make bed
  4. Do 30 push ups
  5. Do 30 sit ups
  6. Cold shower
  7. Brush teeth
  8. Out of the house by 6:30 am
  9. Healthy breakfast
  10. Vitamins
  11. Positive reading at breakfast
  12. Leave breakfast by 7:30 am
  13. Prayer and gratitude for the day
  14. Set the plan for the day and commit to doing what it takes today
  15. At the first door by 7:59 am

None of these things are inherently hard but each and every one is a choice, and all of them help build positive momentum. He would start the day with 15 victories and 0 losses all before 8:00 am! If you were “15 – 0” each day how would that change your mood, your mindset, and your headspace going into the start of your day?

Our mind is a powerful part of what happens in our lives. Will you make the decision to intentionally work on developing it?

So my challenge is simple: What will your little victories be this week? What will you choose to do tomorrow first thing in the morning that will be the first step towards building the momentum you want to see in your life? Will you choose like Admiral McRaven to start by just making your bed? Will you choose to do a few more things like Roger and be “15 – 0” at the start of the day?

I hope you identify what you will commit to tomorrow and I hope you share that with someone who can hold you accountable to follow through.

Little changes, repeated over a long period of time will yield a big difference.

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