Small Daily Improvements Are the Key to Staggering Long-Term Results

In our art lessons this week, we were studying about Michelangelo. One part from the book really grabbed my attention:

Michelangelo was one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, being both a painter and a sculptor. Yet, when asked by a student, “Master, how did you become a great artist?” his reply was brief and to the point, “I drew, and I drew, and I drew some more.”

I found this so interesting because even an amazing artist like Michelangelo recommended just doing the simple but hard things over and over and over again. It reminds me of a great quote I read earlier this week: “Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results.”

A few weeks back, I was having a conversation with someone about goal-setting. They’ve seen my goal lists that I’ve posted here and they wondered if goal-setting just comes naturally to me.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t start goal-setting and instantly see success. In fact, the first few years I tried to set yearly goals, I really stunk at it. I would set goals that were too ambitious, too unrealistic, or just plain too vague. And then I’d be discouraged when I’d fail at them or give up on them soon after I started.

But, despite my discouragement, I kept trying. Kept setting goals. Keeping tweaking them. Kept learning what worked — and what didn’t work.

Over time, I got a little better. And a little better. And a little better.

Pretty soon, goals that would have been impossible a few years before (like this year’s goal to read 150 books), are seeming much more doable. That’s the power of practice!

If you’re feeling like you’re getting nowhere with goal-setting, or losing weight, or paying off debt, or sticking with your budget, or developing discipline in your life, don’t give up. Keep practicing. Keep trying. Keep pressing forward — even if it seems like you’re going slower than a snail’s pace.

Some day soon, you’ll look back and realize that all that sweat, clawing, and persistence has paid off!

“Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” -Rocky Balboa

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Comments

  1. says

    Great motivational article. I know that I need to be reminded sometimes to keep my head up and keep on going! My goal for so long was to be able to work at home to spend more time with my little girl. At times I almost gave up, but I kept pushing and never gave up! Thank you for such an uplifting post!

  2. says

    You used my favorite words “snail’s pace”. I found myself nodding my head through out this entire article. I agree—start small, keep track of your progress, be diligent, and then watch your progress grow.

  3. Lana says

    That is how I am looking at cleaning out 20 years of living in the same house and raising 5 children’s worth of STUFF! If I just keep working at it, I will get it all done. Starting tomorrow I am going to have my husband get a box out of the attic every Saturday for me to go through. Our attic is stuffed and I can almost feel it pressing on my head until I get it all sorted and cleaned out. I have put this off for too long because I viewed it as one job. Now that I see it as one shelf or box or drawer at a time I am getting it done.

  4. says

    Crystal this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
    “A small daily task if it really be daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules” – Anthony Trollope

    Trollope is an inspiration because he wrote dozens of best-selling books, some of them while keeping a full time day job. He paid his butler to wake him with coffee early in the AM and wrote for a couple of hours before work.

    :-)

  5. says

    Thank you, Crystal! What an awesome post!
    How encouraging to hear that just because someone is good at something now doesn’t mean they have always been good at it!

  6. says

    I so needed to hear this today. I feel like I’m just flailing around in a few different areas of my life, which makes it so hard to keep going.

  7. says

    Thanks Crystal – You know I really love hearing your uplifting posts about not giving up. I have soo many goals that I seem to fall short on and I know its a matter of getting back up and keep pushing along … again thanks !

  8. says

    This post is absolutely excellent, Crystal. Thanks so much for the wonderful words of encouragement. There’s at least three quotes here that I’m going to write out to put above my desk. :)

  9. says

    This is a fabulous post, to get me on track with my next set of goals. It’s funny, I just posted this morning about how we made some changes to our spending and those changes led to more savings in other places. I think, because we kept practicing and trying and looking forward :)