The Power of Incremental Progress

How Small Wins Can Help You Break Free from All-or-Nothing Thinking

A series of stairs with straight line pattern. (created via Bing image)

As professionals, we often set high expectations for ourselves and strive for perfection. And the pressure to succeed constantly leads to anxiety and depression. The all-or-nothing thinking is the cult behind our perfectionism mentality.

What’s worse is that this is even not the most effective way to reach our goal. On the contrary, aiming for incremental progress is the key to being resilient toward the end goal.

Incremental progress is the concept of making small, continuous improvements over time. Instead of focusing on a solid goal like getting 5K followers, we focus on making small, achievable steps towards that goal, for example, sending out 5 connections a day. By celebrating every small step of wins, we build up the momentum to stay motivated, develop a growth mindset, and break free from all-or-nothing thinking.

The Science Behind Incremental Progress

Incremental progress is a proven scientific concept. The brain's reward system releases dopamine, aka feel-good hormone, when we take action to complete a task. This release of dopamine rewards our action and further reinforces the behavior and motivates us to redo the action. By building a reward system for small steps of action we take, we can continuously trigger this dopamine release and form a good habit and effortlessly work towards our larger goals.

How Incremental Progress Helps Break Free from All-or-Nothing Thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is when we believe that anything that is not perfect is a failure, worse enough, we might think ourselves a failure. This kind of mentality can be detrimental to our mental well-being and further hinder our potential since we become risk-averse and lose the opportunity to try out new things. By embracing incremental progress, we can break free from this cognitive distortion and develop a growth mindset. We learn to enjoy the process rather than feeling defeated by the outcome.

Tips for Embracing Incremental Progress

Here are some tips for building incremental progress in our personal and professional life:

  1. Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks: This helps to make progress and feel a sense of achievement during the process.

  2. Celebrate small wins and progress along the way: Take time to acknowledge and appreciate the small action we take. This will reinforce the behavior and help us stay motivated.

  3. Stay accountable: Use a journal or app to keep track of our progress. This will not only hold us accountable but also help us see how far we've come.

By adopting incremental progress, we can break free from all-or-nothing thinking and achieve our goals with less stress and anxiety. If done it right, we might enjoy the process and look forward to the challenges ahead! 😉 Remember, success is not an overnight achievement but a result of small, continuous improvements.

Let's try to break free from all-or-nothing thinking and achieve our goals one small win at a time. 🫡

When I wrote this article, I am in the middle of job searching. In this economic downturn, it’s not an easy task, and some may found stressful. But I use the same process I describe here, and I found myself quite enjoying the process. I always think of myself as a Pokemon master, if I can get a referral, then I catch a Pokemon. No matter if I eventually become the winner of the match, I got a huge collection of Pokemons that I can feel proud of!

What about you? what’s your small wins look like?

Useful Tool

When speaking about incremental progress, we have to talk about productivity app! Because checking things off is exhilarating.🤩 

I LOVE this app, Sorted3 . I met with the founder the other day, he is from HongKong, and live digital-nomadly in Taiwan right now. We had a pleasant chat, talking about how to stay productive and he even show me the next stage of the app is gonna look like! All I can say is exciting!😍 

The app has free version, which is already well-designed and super powerful. You can use it separately on iPhone or Mac, but if you would like to have your tasks all synced through, you could purchase the bundle. It’s a one-time purchase, and totally worth it! I am not affiliated, just simply excited to share my day-to-day tool to you all. I hope you find it useful as I do.

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