Small Wins Over Motivation

They work.

Upen Singh


Waiting for motivation to strike is not a wise strategy when our big projects have deadlines. This is a fundamental lesson I apply as a College Counselor, in guiding high school seniors to complete their college applications.

And we carry this habit of waiting for motivation throughout adulthood.

Thanks to neuroplasticity: we can adapt, change, and evolve. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to adapt, changing its structure and functions in response to environmental changes.

Then, there’s self-directed neuroplasticity. Our awareness of the brain’s “plastic” nature and how it can influence the body over time allows us to be more intentional. Putting effort into our goals that are set from a deeper level of consciousness than our desire-centered goals is better and healthier. It can bring the best version of ourselves, compounded over time.

But for any behavioral change to stick, it must be done slowly in small amounts. And consistently allow ourselves to feel every small win.

Through these small wins, we make big habit changes over time.

One strategy that works well is gradually guiding my students to accomplish one tiny task at a time. It works for me, and it works for them. While filling out an entire application, including thoughtful essays, can feel daunting, breaking those tasks into smaller chunks with deadlines and proper guidance makes the entire process much more feasible.

Every complete task is a win that compounds over time, developing our sense of confidence. Too often, we wait for the big motivation or some external stimulus, like coffee or the fear of losing something, to drive us to the finish line. But this behavior gets us addicted to a self-destructive loop.

While I tell my students the big plan, I make sure that they have a clear pathway to achieving them through smaller goals that require minimal motivation. But I push them for consistency and congratulate them for every small win.

One win today. One tomorrow. Celebrations in between. And it all compounds into something much bigger.

What small wins are you making consistently?



Upen Singh

A Practical Visionary | Education Counselor | Builder | People & Progress | Traveler | Author | Nature & Animals