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Think Small summary

Owain Service and Rory Gallagher

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Reach Big Goals

4.3 (122 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Think Small by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher is a guide to behavioral science, offering practical tools for making positive changes in our daily lives. By breaking down complex ideas into manageable steps, it helps readers make better decisions and achieve their goals.

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    Think Small
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    Behavioral science shows us that small changes in the way we act and think can lead to big changes in our lives.

    Have you ever made a potentially life-changing New Year’s resolution – to quit smoking, for example, or to start running every morning – only to find that, come February, you’ve forgotten all about it?

    It’s an all-too-common situation. But why do we have such difficulty persevering our big plans?

    Well, we tend to think that we’ll pursue our aims with focus and thought, but the reality is that our minds are not always in a thoughtful and focused state. Distractions and temptations are constant, and, more often than not, we succumb to them.

    Let’s say you’ve resolved to follow a diet that entails counting and controlling your calorie intake, day in, day out. Naturally, this requires a lot of focus – a level of focus that’s almost impossible to keep up. People face countless mental demands daily, from the pressures of a tough day at work to the stresses of raising children, so it’s no surprise that many dieters will, at some point, lose focus, give in to temptation and sneak in a snack.

    So what can we do to stay on track and stick to our goals? Behavioral science has some surprisingly simple answers.

    We can, for example, make use of the nudge theory, which suggests that small changes, when subtly encouraged, can lead to big results. Maybe you set your watch two minutes early to help keep yourself punctual. Or maybe you’ve joined a running group, harnessing sociability to stay motivated with exercise. That’s nudge theory in action.

    Nudge theory often makes use of social norms – patterns in our peers’ behavior that we feel compelled to imitate.

    For instance, one project, conducted by the UK government, tested the impact of social norms by adding a single line to the end of letters sent to citizens with outstanding tax debts: “most people with a debt like yours have paid it by now.” The result? Because people thought prompt payment was the expected behavior, they paid up quickly, generating hundreds of millions of pounds in taxes paid.

    In total, behavioral science offers seven steps for nudging yourself toward happiness and achievement. And you’ll learn them all in the following blinks.

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    What is Think Small about?

    Think Small (2017) shows how small changes in the way we think and act can help us achieve big goals. Harnessing insights from behavioral science, the author sets out a seven-step program to help you make and stick to plans for improving your well-being. Whether your aim is to lose weight or to get ahead at work, this framework will help you get there.

    Think Small Review

    Think Small (2017) explores the power of behavioral science and provides practical strategies for making lasting changes in our lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its accessible explanations and relatable examples, it helps readers understand the science behind decision-making and behavior change.
    • The book offers a wide range of actionable techniques that can be easily implemented, helping individuals overcome barriers and achieve their goals.
    • By demonstrating the potential impact of small changes, it inspires optimism and encourages readers to think differently about personal development.

    Best quote from Think Small

    Create clear, simple rules that reduce the mental effort required to stick to your goal.

    —Owain Service and Rory Gallagher
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    Who should read Think Small?

    • Students of behavioral science
    • Strivers seeking practical guidance for achieving major goals
    • Anyone who wants to improve their life

    About the Author

    Owain Service is the managing director of the Behavioural Insights Team. This organization, created by the UK government, seeks to better the lives of citizens by applying behavioral science to policy-making and public services.

    Rory Gallagher is managing director of the organization’s work in the Asia-Pacific region.

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    Think Small FAQs 

    What is the main message of Think Small?

    The main message of Think Small is that small changes can lead to big results.

    How long does it take to read Think Small?

    The reading time for Think Small varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Think Small a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Think Small is worth reading for its practical insights and actionable tips. It offers a refreshing perspective on achieving personal and professional success.

    Who is the author of Think Small?

    The authors of Think Small are Owain Service and Rory Gallagher.

    What to read after Think Small?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Think Small, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Picture Your Prosperity by Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng
    • Super Human by Dave Asprey
    • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
    • Focus by Daniel Goleman