Every little helps (with apologies to Tesco)

I used to collect pennies from one of my friends who thought they weren't worth bothering with. They used to weigh down his pockets. No, he is not a millionaire. I don't expect he ever will be. After all, if you look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Diligence, committment, self-discipline.

They are horrible words, and some people will just stop reading at this point.

The rest of you - thanks for sticking with me. It pays to keep an open mind.

Discipline is essentially putting your vision and hope above everything else. Momentary pain, feelings of pointlessness, despair and gloom, even self-ridicule and desparagment. Discipline is pushing yourself through a barrier, despite having failed many times before and keeping at it.

The secret is, once you have seen the power of discipline: be it with exercise, losing weight, or getting a project completed for you and you alone, it is only the fading of a memory that will really challenge it.

That first attempt is the most important. Take exercise. I hear it so many times: "I should exercise more". The first question is: Do you want to be fit and healthy? Not the text book answer, not what you SHOULD do, but actually what you want to do. Think through the immediate feelings. If I could wave a magic wand and be slimmer, fitter and feel healthier, would I want that? Or do I like me the way I am? If I get to the end of my life and I've never actually done any proper exercise and I've just been that little bit overweight, will I regret 'not doing something about it' or be pleased I 'didn't bother with all that'? And I believe either answer is valid, if you've really questioned yourself and arrived at your 'real' answer.

If it's the former, and it's something you want to aim for, you need to get Stage 1 out of the way. (be realistic about what you're aiming for- If you're 55 and you want to look 20, it's not going to happen without surgery).

Stage 1 is where you're going through the 'alien' stage. This is where you're doing something that goes against your normal routine and is an easy giving up point. To get through it, focus on the 'feel-good' feelings. For exercise, this maybe feeling refreshed and revitalised, or feeling your muscles ache but sleeping like a baby. It's knowing you have done what you said you would. It's losing some weight and having it commented on.

Stage 2 is the failure. You will fail. Even if you keep it up for a month, you will one day tell yourself, 'Sod this.' And that might go on for a few days and then that little voice in your head will go 'You've really screwed up now - I thought you were going to keep this up? What happened stupid?' And then you won't want to bother anymore.

This is where you SHOW UP.

You show up, and you do it.

You may only do a little bit, write a chapter, run a mile, take 5 photos. But tell yourself you will and do it. It might not feel that great when you've done it; perfectionists will bemoan that they 'only' did a little. But Every Little Helps.

Failing again. But if you listen at the first or second hurdle, and take action then, you path is so much smoother, you create less future pain. And whatever stage you're at, even backward slide number 521, worse than where you started, you're still closer to the goal than you will be tomorrow. Every little helps.

Good little habits create success stories. Cleaning for ten minutes once a week is a little to build on. Making time does not mean carving out hours of your life. It might just be ten minutes in the morning to make your lunch rather than ten minutes checking emails.

I think there is merit in this technique when people begin to find in themselves a re-awakened creativity, a new way of working, a lifestyle choice. There are times, when you work towards that novel way of doing things which fights back for the old and comfortable. But press on, even in this time. It's just a time.

In business, in creativity, the little bits help. I know that creativity spells itself out in long hours of concentration, and 'little bits' is not our scene. But little bits of admin, two phone calls, a document template will aid us overall. Little bits add up to lots done.

And where we listen to ourselves, be tough but gentle, pushing ourselves to limits and yet being easy on our minds when we mess up AGAIN, allows us to value ourselves and create something truly successful.