…or: why micro-actions matter


Changing behaviour is hard. 9 out of 10 lifestyle changes fail. Of corporate change initiatives, 7 out of 10 fail.

There are times when big change is possible, even preferable: get out of a crisis, break an addiction, turn around your life.

But most of the time, change should be sought in small steps, daily – not as our last resort.

The Fifth Corner Inc. model for sustainable behaviour change is built on three cornerstones:

Research into sustainable behaviour change supports small changes


In a meta-analysis on sustainable behavior change, Sean Young, Ph.D., found that 3 of 7 factors were related to micro-actions: taking small steps, making it easy, and ‘neurohacking’ your brain to take more action.

The power of small behavioral changes lies in how our brain learns:

1. ‘Cells that fire together, wire together’

 The brain learns through a process called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity happens when the brain’s building blocks, neurons, connect with each other. By learning new things, you create new neuron connections and keep your brain active.


2. Small actions give focus

We experience hundreds of thousands of stimuli daily, and it’s impossible for the brain to keep up with everything. Large changes easily become overwhelming. Small changes allow your brain to focus and start the process of neuroplasticity.

3. Action creates more action

When you take a new action it starts re-programming your brain. You get a sense of accomplishment and advancement. Your brain starts craving that feeling and it makes you more likely to continue, thus triggering a virtuous circle of more action.

4. You learn a ‘habit of success’

Many of us have experienced failed lifestyle changes. These failures cast a shadow on our current efforts. The key to success is to start with resolutions you can keep. Seeing your progress makes it enjoyable, making you more likely to stick to it.

“Practicing micro behavioral changes can help people make bigger changes in their lives and improve their ability to handle change.”

Dr. Tara Swart, PhD Neuroscience, MD Oxford University, Advisor to Fifth Corner Inc.