“If ten coins are not enough to make a man rich, what if you add one coin? What if you add another? Finally you will have to say that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him so.” – footnote about the “Argument of the Growing Heap” in Erasmus’s Praise of Folly
While taking a little break today, I ran across Gretchen Rubin’s series of blog posts about “loopholes” – you know, those little excuses people find not to follow whatever healthy habit they’ve vowed to acquire. What, you don’t have any loopholes? Me neither (smirk). But we can read about them, all the same.
All the loopholes are interesting, but I liked this one the best, because it fit in with what we’ve discussed before about what I like to call “the power of accumulation.” I probably didn’t make that phrase up, but let’s pretend I did. It works like the story above, in either direction:
ONE little chocolatey mini cupcake that I had to eat or someone would throw it away? (Really, they would have). Fine. Lots more? Uhhhh…
ONE short foray into non-work or “nonproductive” tasks? Fine. It’s actually helpful to reinforce all the hard work you’ve done, in the right time and place. Letting it stretch on and on? Generally, not a good idea if you want to accomplish your goals.
ONE workout before I get to watch Downton Abbey? No discernable difference. Lots of workouts? Yep. Hey, what’s that muscle doing there?
ONE task crossed off my long to-do list to get my private practice launched? Okay. All the tasks crossed off? Woo hoo! I’m in business!
Often, we behavior analyst types help people meet long cumulative goals by setting shorter, more attainable steps and rewarding when we meet them. Just marking my workouts on the calendar is a little boost for me, plus it means now I can relax because I did it! Remember that Premack Principle? Use it!
So, what will one tiny step do for you? Do it! And then do it again. And again. Then, you will see those proverbial coins piling up…