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The Power of Incremental Actions

Ambition is not what a man would do, but what a man does, for ambition without action is fantasy. — Bryant Mcgill

Do you know that Taj Mahal is not only a magnificent monument of love, but also a proof of the power of incremental action? It took 22 years and thousands of workers to build this beautiful building.

Now, fast forward to our world. You’ve been bamboozled by TV infomercials — those that promise you an overnight success in exchange of your quick payment with a credit card.

Have you succumbed to those self-proclaimed experts promising  quick way to make six-figure income in six weeks, lose 10 pounds in few weeks, or schemes that are too good to be true? You’re not alone!

While looking at this beautiful image of Taj Mahal, it dawned on me that success lies in the power of incremental actions with purpose. That’s it!

Those thousands of workers who built Taj Mahal were building a part of the Taj, but emperor Shah Jahan knew exactly what he was building. Your life is no different than that. The power of incremental actions can take you to your success one day at a time.

You can achieve amazing results with persistent, incremental actions. Even though results are nothing less than spectacular, you don’t feel its significance due to persistent daily effort over the years.

1.  As a boy, Agassi hit 2,500 tennis balls a day; that’s 17,500 each week and  nearly 1 million practice shots per year. How can you not become next Agassi if you hit 2,500 tennis ball a day?

2. This is my 69th article on this blog. It’s hard to imagine, but this blog is only 5 months old. If I can keep writing for  6 years — at this rate with passion — I will have enough articles to publish more than 10 books.

3.  If you save just $5 per day at a young age, at a rate of 6% per year, your account will grow to over $295,000 in 40 years. With your supplemental Social Security income, you can live like a king in anyone of these countries.

4.  If you save few hours a day to read anything that excites you, you can read 120 pages a day. You can read on average one book every two days and 15 books per month. You can become an expert in your field in less than 6 years without going to any college, if you are willing to spend extra 5 hours a day reading or learning what excites you most.

5.  I’m a big fan of Virgin Health miles program. I just noticed that I walk little over 14,000 steps per day; that’s over 5 million steps per year, or 2,555 miles a year.  I didn’t realize that I am walking all the way from New York to Miami and back to New York once every year. Just kidding. I don’t live in New York.

All of these acts — if implemented in your life — form habits for a lasting success. These aren’t acts of overnight success or effort, but sticking with these choices for a long time can form the foundation for a mammoth success. And they don’t cost you as much as — those infomercials — you paid to buy fake promises.

Financial independence is not limited to those fortunate few who can hit the big jackpot, or those who were born with silver spoon in their mouth; rather, it is almost inevitable to those who clearly define their financial goals and take incremental, measurable action everyday.

Have you heard the popular expression, “Slow and steady wins the race”? Given enough time — with persistence and the power of incremental action — you can beat anyone, in any race.

Any good habit with consistency takes you a step closer to your goal post, but a bad habit with consistency can take you two steps away from your goal post. You wake up everyday and make lots of choices. Why not choose actions that are congruent with your aspirations and loftier life goals? Why not become — or at least try to — another Michael Jordan who practiced everyday for years even after becoming MVP?

 Energy and persistence conquer all things. –– Benjamin Franklin

(Photo courtesy: AyeKay)


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Comments (33)

applies to blog views, too. :)

I’ve had the chance to visit the Taj twice, over two consecutive years as it happens.

more than any other building in my experience it exudes an aura of such otherworldly beauty.

As I suspect you know, it is actually a tomb.

Shah Jahan built it for the love of his life whom he lost.

The plan was for its exact duplicate to be built on the opposite bank of the river, but in black marble rather than white. That was to be his resting place and they’d be together for eternity.

Quite the love story. Unfortunately when he died, no one had the motivation to carry thru the plan and it was never built.

That’s why you are rich my friend. You have experiences that no one can steal or destroy. :)

The incremental changes are what brings the lasting success. I think my problem with making changes last is having too many goals.

I have been reading a lot about productivity lately and how multitasking and the lack of focus is what limits people. I have decided to only work on two small goals at a time that will lead me to my bigger goal. When they are finished I will work on the next two.

I think when people are going for financial success or any success for that matter they want it so fast that they aren’t willing to take the small steps. If they don’t accomplish their goals quickly they often give up.

Great idea to restrict yourself to just two small goals at a time. By doing that you must have to use discipline to prioritize, and thus spend your time on the two best things to do. Something to model.

Agreed. Doing too many things can distract you constantly. I like your idea to focus on few most important goals.

I’m a big beleiver in this. With my blog I might write about 2 posts per week. I know at this rate after 10 years I will have around a thousand posts, which will be an awesome resource for any affiliate marketer.

That’s nice goal, Jon! You already know a lot affiliate marketing, but by reading and writing over 1000 posts, you will earn expert status.

Shilpan, I’ve never thought about it like that! We are 5 months old as well (as of yesterday actually!) and we have posted 95 entries! That’s crazy. We are just plugging along, doing a bit here and there, but one day we will look back and really proud of all the work we have done.

About the Taj Mahal; that’s a great example of incremental actions, but did you know that it might not be as romantic of a story as some people think? The prince who orchestrated the building of the Taj Mahal had several other wives! I don’t know about you, but I would hope that if my husband loved me enough to build such a beautiful monument just for me…that maybe he would be able to commit himself to me alone! :)

Congrats Michelle! Your blog is doing very well.

Very wise principles in this article, Shilpan. Long-term thinking is 1) a difficult concept to understand, and 2) a difficult thing to cultivate.

It’s something that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently, and although “counter-intuitive,” is absolutely essential to building wealth (as well as the survival of our species!).

You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jim! It’s all about long-term thinking that matters most for your success. It takes time and relentless effort to achieve anything in life. Well said.

[…] is definitely a man of wisdom. I find something great in every post he writes, including this one The Power of Incremental Actions – Street Smart […]

Truly inspirational. And gives us all cause not to get discouraged in the little things we do everyday…and motivates us to keep doing them! Have you heard the story of this well-off Wallstreet man who tested the theory of 10,000 hours? It pretty much says that if you work at something for 10,000 hours, you will become an expert or professional level. He quit his job so he could try it with golf. I’m pretty sure he’s trying out for one of the big tours right now. (Can you tell by my word choices that I know very little about the intricacies of golf? But my point is still clear, right? :p)

You are right on the money. If you spend 3-4 hours for passion that excites you everyday, you will know more than 99.99% of people on this planet in 8-10 years. And, knowledge is power.


You’re so right. Eough baby steps and you’ve gone the distance. Tortise / hare, etc. It all comes down to persistence and focus.

Set and work on the small goals each day, knock them down, one by one, but never lose sight of the large gaol you’re aiming for in the end.

One more thing; persistance and focus mean nothing if you’re not engaging your audience. Sure, you’ll have a great collection of, well, something, but you need to such your audience in, get them to interact, and always leave them wanting more.

You’ve done a good job of that so far…. keep it up!

Well said Steve. Of course, if your goal is to grow your business or a blog, you have to take actions to engage your clients or readers.

It’s really the power of persistence as well. You have to stick with it and understand the value of small effort even if results aren’t immediate. That’s the real trick, because it’s easy to give up.

Absolutely! That’s why it is important to have unshakable faith to succeed.

Of course you don’t live in New York! You live somewhere between there and Miami every day :-)

Whenever I fear anything I just try to take the first step. Your post reminds me of the joke: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. Just one step leads to the next.

I like your elephant metaphor Joe! Another way to look at thing is to realize that, often, you get bitten by bees and not elephant; that means, small mistakes can cost you dearly in the long run if you are not paying attention.

Interesting post, Shilpan. Number 4 reminds me of what Earl Nightingale once quoted from a Russian scientist. The quote is “If we were to use only a tenth of our brain power, we would with any difficulty learn 40 languages, learn the entire Russian encyclopedia from cover to cover, and complete the required courses of dozens of colleges. This would come from our efforts through the power of incremental actions.

that’s awesome Anthony! We, indeed, use only fraction of our brain power.

I like your number 2, it becomes more plausible once you have survived your first 2 years in blogging. It seems it all points down to slow and steady wins the race.

like that story of the tortoise and hare! :)

What a great reminder that huge accomplishments don’t happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race – that’s for sure!

That’s true. A worthwhile effort always takes time.

Sometimes our progress may seem insignificant and moves along without much notice, but it will all add up to something great in the future :) Rome wasn’t built in a day after all. Just have to keep focused and persistent (^_^)

Thank you for stopping by. Focus and persistence are the key ingredients to your success.

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