Small Move, Big Change

Summary Written by Jennifer Fitzgerald Hansen
"[It] is about making resolutions that succeed EVERY time. By rethinking willpower, and refocusing your resolutions, you can master the art of instant and sustainable self-improvement."

- Small Move, Big Change, page xiv

The Big Idea

Make a resolution you can keep – REALLY keep!

"Put aside the familiar temptation to try and fix everything all at once by tomorrow and focus instead on making a resolution that is so reasonable you are sure you can make it stick... target a limited behavioural change... don’t over reach."- Small Move, Big Change, page 9

Instead of the standard New Year’s Day resolution of changing ten things in your life, Arnold gets us to be real – real simple! Focus on no more than two or three things; make it small; build on that success and then and only then, move on. Nothing vague either: not get organized, get fit, stop being late. Her rules equate into distinct and defined actions that build into behavioural changes that become habit and led us in the direction of our choice towards long lasting self-improvement.

It is imperative that your microresolution be easy to keep, so easy in fact that we shouldn’t have to make any decisions around keeping it. Making decisions, any decision, leads to weaker resolve and therefore, a more likely environment of failure. Unrealistic resolutions cause us to make frequent and numerous decisions regarding their implementation: call them deferrals or tradeoffs of the original change. Unfortunately for us, this means we are less likely to have the necessary energy to implement the change. The goal here is for auto pilot – no decision making necessary.

Insight #1

Clear–crystal clear–and measurable!

"A microresolution is an action; not something you commit to be but something you commit to do ... not a wish, a philosophy, or a result; its straightforward purpose is to build, change or eliminate a specific behaviour or attitude."- Small Move, Big Change, page 15

So Arnold leads us into Rule #2 – all microresolutions are explicit and measurable actions. There is to be no guessing around your microresolution and the ironic part is that the clearer you are, the easier it is to measure your success and reach your goal. There is no place here for being flexible or fuzz – that just creates room for failure not to mention stress and anxiety!

It is very important to learn to set realistic goals. This is almost the backbone of Arnold’s method. You must be able to keep them, preferably daily – being that they are so small you are doing the task each and every day. By having a specific task or action to perform, your success is easily measured and once this action becomes an established behaviour requiring little thought or effort, you have reached auto pilot! Eventually the microresolution becomes a habit, something you no longer need to think about doing, you just do it.

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Insight #2

No need to wait!

"A microresolution’s time frame is today, not someday... payoff is immediate, obvious, and sustainable forever. Unlike wannabe resolutions, where rewards are promised sometime in the future, each microresolution carries its own payload – what you pledge to do is what you get, as long as you follow through."- Small Move, Big Change, page 23

This aspect of Arnold’s rules is so incredible powerful! Instead of waiting weeks or months to see the results of a behavioural change, her way allows for a daily boast of ‘I did it! I can keep doing it!’ The benefits of keeping your daily microresolutions are immediate and concrete! The successful progress one makes, through a series of steps, to benefit a personal or professional change, is easy to track and be successful. Self improvement becomes a series of stepping stones or microresolutions and today’s success builds towards tomorrow’s goals.

Small Move, Big Change is an easy, fast read, full of straightforward and uncomplicated to follow ‘rules’ towards self improvement success, each backed up with scientific studies and/or personal anecdotes . The first half of the book provides the whys and hows for both past failures and future successes, while the second half of the book is full of case studies of success with many different microresolutions.

Read the book

Get Small Move, Big Change on Amazon.

Caroline L. Arnold

Caroline Arnold has been a technology leader on Wall Street for more than a decade, managing some of the financial world’s largest software development teams and leading some of the industry’s most visible and complex initiatives. A dynamic and engaging speaker, she has appeared before groups as large as 5,000 people. Caroline is a recipient of the Wall Street & Technology Award for Innovation for building the auction system for the Google IPO, and her name appears on technology patents pending. Caroline serves as a Managing Director at a leading Wall Street investment bank.

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