The little things add up

Every action you take creates a reaction. It does not matter if the action is big or small. It still has an effect.

With a big action you will most likely see the results of it quickly. Not so with the small actions. Small actions take time for the results to become apparent.

Image courtesy of Doratagold

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Take shopping for groceries. First, you grab a cart and begin your journey down the aisle. You grab the salsa and into the cart it goes. Next you pick up some ground beef. Then you are onto the dairy section where you grab a gallon of milk.

This continues on for an hour or so as your cart slowly fills with your groceries. Between the grocery items you need, you add a item worth a dollar or two here and there. It is no big deal, you think.

As you arrive at the checkout lane, you notice the shopping cart seems to be filled with more grocery items than you anticipated. By the time you have finished checking out, you have one expensive grocery bill. All of those little items added up!

The same principle applies to our lives. Whether it be with your goals, your fitness level, or your mental health.

When you take small actions, you barely notice the result. You let a curse word slip, you eat an extra cookie, or you skip a day of exercise.

No big deal, right?


Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
— Song of Solomon 2:15

Just like the trip to the grocery store and your huge grocery bill, these small actions add up.

When you cursed, you did not feel anything different. So the next time you let it slip. This happens until you are saying the words frequently.

You never noticed it happening.

The extra cookie becomes three or four because you did not see your weight change. Or with skipping a day of exercise. It just becomes easier to miss the next day.

That is until you step on the scale three months down the road and there are an extra five pounds.

These results were not sudden. They were gradual, over time. Each small action you took contributed.

Take time today to evaluate what little things you are allowing into your life. Are they helping you to achieve the vision you have for your life?

If not, stop doing the small actions.

Replace them with new, small actions. Actions that contribute to you achieving your goal instead of hindering.

Just like the negative, small actions your new, healthier small actions you, most likely, will not notice anything.

Unlike the negative, small actions your new, healthier actions will slowly build into great results.

Take it step by step – but keep moving forward – and a year from now, we’ll find we’ve moved from here to there.
— Rhonda Abrams

Question: What sudden results have you seen from the small actions you do daily? Please share your answers in the comment section below.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dude…great, great, great thoughts…

    especially in my quest for fitness…lol…

    Thanks for this really…

    • Thanks Arny. Just remember, it really is the small steps that affect your quest for fitness. Make those daily deposits and it will add up. And it’s a lot easier to stay fit when you’ve taken the small steps.

  • Anonymous

    What a simple but powerful principle. We have to “Watch for those little foxes which destroy the harvest.” ~Bible Those small choices and decisions can make or break us. Great post.

    • That’s a great verse to go along with this post. I may have to add it to it.

      • Anonymous

        It’s in the book of Song of Solomon.

        • Thanks Dan. Just added it to the post.

          • Anonymous

            Nice, your welcome.

  • I totally agree and great post. It reminds me of how it when me when I added up how much money I was spending on little things at work. They didn’t seem like much but they were!

    • Spot on Kimanzi! The vending machines or gas station stops during work add up more than you think.

  • M&M’s… peanut butter… frozen yogurt… every trip through the kitchen is filled with temptations for me… I’m pretty good at the exercise part because I really enjoy it. You’ve planted a good seed with this post Joe, thank you!!

    • Haha, the dreaded M&M’s! Those are a weakness of mine too.

  • Oooh, Joe! It’s the cookies and snacks that add up for me! Also, the little bits of time I spend here and there piddling away my time. Suddenly, a whole day I set aside to be productive has been minimized to an hour! Thank you for the reminder.

    • Haha, right! Snacks can quickly add up. I know I can eat a whole bag of chips without realizing it. And it’s done by one small chip(step) at a time. Glad to be able to give the reminder. What steps could you take to avoid the sudden realization that you’ve ate too many cookies or spent too much time piddling away?

      • Great question! Regarding the cookies/snacks – I already have a system where I just take a certain amount and no more, but what I need to do is reduce that certain amount. Instead of 4 oreos, take out 2. 🙂

        Regarding time: This has ALWAYS been an issue for me. One thing I have tried that has worked for me is to block out my time into chunks and create scheduled breaks. During each chunk of time, I have a couple goals set for what I want to accomplish. Where I get into trouble is when I “reward” myself too early by deviating from the plan and taking multiple breaks every 15 minutes!

        Do you have suggestions on how to accomplish goals within a day’s time? I would be open to suggestions. Time management is a real struggle for me.

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  • jeff

    It’s ironic.  I’m an impatient person when it comes to fitness, health, and goals.  I will dismiss any goals that seem unrealistic or not cost-effective.  Yet it’s the small actions that I love, not the big ones.

    •  Interesting Jeff. What makes you consider a goal to be unrealistic?

      • jeff

        An unrealistic goal is one that requires more money and motivation that I have at the moment.