SDS 198: Two Millimeter Shifts

SDS 198: Two Millimeter Shifts

Two Millimeter Shifts

Welcome to the FiveMinuteFriday episode of the Super Data Science Podcast!

I might sound like a broken record but I’m still going to reiterate what you’ve heard from everyone – little changes make a BIG difference. It still holds true for everything, and today, we discuss the concept of 2-millimeter shift which supports it more so make sure to listen in!

If you’re still feeling a little rush from the previous episode with Carl Massy where we talk about the mindset to happiness and success, then here’s a little add-on to that precious knowledge we got from him. Today, we dive deep into the concept of 2-millimeter shift which you can use to impact your life for the better. This idea came from my coach and I thought this could also be helpful for everyone.

So, before knowing the ‘how’, let’s discuss first the ‘why’ – Why is it called the 2-millimeter shift?

To simplify things, let’s look at sports. In the games of golf, billiards, or basketball, the player aims straight at the very center of the ‘hole’ to score points and to avoid the possibility of a misfire. Their goal anyways is to win at the conclusion of the game so to be skillful at aiming is important. Once a disturbance happens and you’ve accidentally slanted or shifted your aim no matter how small it is, you’ll definitely miss your shot. That’s how significant 2 millimeters is. You may compare a 2-millimeter measurement to a U.S. nickel’s height, the diameter of an unused crayon, or the head of a pin. It’s quite small that it goes unnoticed.

Now, how does knowing this concept impact your life?

Every decision-making from now on should be thought through and through since minute details pave the way to bigger effects. We should become warier of the repercussions in the future to avoid them. Besides, we all just want to reach our ultimate destination.

The 2-millimeter shift will also keep you on track if you’ve gone off the rails with some of your tasks, projects or personal goals. The importance of committing to time rather than quantity is also helpful in these scenarios. For example, if, lately, you’ve been slacking with your daily exercise, then start learning the habit again. A habit becomes a habit when you do it for 30-60 days. It doesn’t even have to be intense. You can start at the fundamentals first then move your way up when you’re comfortable with your pace.

Make sure to listen in to my stories on how the 2-millimeter shift concept helps me from my daily rituals to my life-long personal goals. I’d be glad to listen to your related stories too!

Items mentioned in this podcast:


  • Do you have any stories, good or bad, where the 2-millimeter shift happened?
  • Download The Transcript
  • Music Credit: Motion by Tobu & Wholm [NCS Release]


Full Podcast Transcript

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This is FiveMinuteFriday episode 198. This is five minute Friday, episode number 198, Two Millimeter Shifts. Welcome back to the Super Data Science podcast, ladies and gentlemen. Super excited to have you on board today, and this week on the show we had Carl Massy, who's the author of the Guidebook to Happiness. If you listen to the episodes, let me know. Did you feel the energy? Did you feel the positivity going through your earphones and filling you up? I totally enjoyed it. I really enjoyed this episode. It was so much fun, and I actually felt really relaxed talking to Carl.
If you miss this episode, make sure to check it out. That was episode 197, with Carl Massy. It's great, great, just a great chat that we had. And today what I wanted to talk about is a tip I had for you, in terms of some of the things that Carl mentioned. So some of the advice and ideas for a happier life that Carl talked about, some of the things that we went through from his book, were related to like a mindset, and positive thinking, and being in the right state and things like that. So those are very, very useful hacks. You should definitely look into applying them and seeing how they can benefit your life.
But what are we talking about today can help you out with the hacks that more related more to physical activities, and things that you can actually do. For instance, we talked about exercise and we talked about meditation. So how do you get in the habit of exercising every day? Or how do you get in the habit of meditating every day? It's great to say, and it's probably easy to say, but it's much harder to do to, for instance, say that I'm going to meditate 20 minutes a day from now on. Because how many times have you been a situation, where you decide to develop a habit and then you follow through for five days, or six days or wherever it is?
Then something gets in the way, things slip through and you just forget about it, or you lose track and you miss out once, you miss out twice, and then it just kind of like stops there, and nothing else happens?So, we want to avoid that situation. We want to develop that habit, it takes about Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, talks about developing habits. It takes about 30 to 60 days to develop a habit. So how can we ease this process of developing a habit? That's where I want to share a tip with you that my coach gave me like literally this week, and it is called Two Millimeter Shifts.
So we'll start with a visualization, imagine that you have like a huge laser line. It's kind of like a laser pointer line, and laser beam going out of your head, out of your face, like straightforward for 1,000 kilometers. Straight ahead for 1,000 kilometers. Now imagine what will happen to that beam if you tilt your head to the right by two millimeters. But like two degrees, well we're going to just say millimeters, so that we stay in line with the concept of the title of the episode. You shift your head to the right by two millimeters, right? What will happen to that line?
Well near you, the line will look pretty much identical. We'll just tilt it a tiny little bit, but as you go further away from your face and further along this line, you will find that it's shifted more and more and more. In fact, a thousand kilometer line, if you shift your head by two millimeters, a thousand kilometer line would have shifted by 30 kilometers. How crazy is that? Right? So you just did a two millimeter shift, but this whole line shifted by 30 kilometers. So you can imagine that if there's a plane that gets on a course to travel from A to B, and there's a thousand kilometers between them, or thousand miles between the destinations.
So, if at the very start the plane planes courses tilted by two millimeters, that's all it takes. If it's tilted by two millimeters, then what will happen is that the plane will actually land at a destination that is 30 kilometers or 30 miles off course. How insane is that? And that's what we want to use to our advantage here. We want to take this principle of a two millimeter shift, and apply it to the trajectory of our lives. And so for instance, if you decided that you want to exercise, like for instance in my case. I've gotten kind of really slack over the past couple of months, or maybe even longer, a year or so. I've really stopped exercising, and only rarely do I actually exercise. When is a gym around the or something like that. And I'm not happy with this.
And so now I've decided I'm going to change this up, I'm going to get into the habit of exercising. One thing I could've done, I could've said, "Okay, so now everyday I'm going to go for a five kilometer run, and then every second day I'm going to do 100 pushups and, and then I'm going to go for a swim and things like that." So, like set myself the actual destination that I want to get to. I want to be exercising every day, and I want to be running, and want to be swimming, and I want to be doing lots of pushups and things like that. So I could have set that for myself as a goal. What that would have probably ended up in is, one of those scenarios, I would have done that for 10, 12 days or whatever. Then I would have stopped and, like something would have gotten in the way, like some crisis would have happened at work or something like that. And yeah, I would just like give up on the idea.
Instead what I've done now is I've set myself a goal of, "Okay, I'm just going to wake up, go outside and I'm going to do 20 pushups and that's it." Very tiny amounts. I know that it's not going to change much in my life. It's only 20 pushups. I'm barely going to even feel that. But I know that this is the principle of this whole two millimeter shift, that if I start doing 20 pushups now, and tomorrow do 20, and another 20, Then in five days do 25. Then I do that for five days, and then I do 30. Then I get her up to 50, then I get up to 70 pushups. I know that with time, over the course of several months, I'll get to the destination that I actually want to go.
Like same with this laser line sticking out of your face, do a two millimeter shift now, no big difference at the onset. But, as you go along the line, the differences becomes greater and greater and greater. And guess what? It becomes easier to stick to it, because you're slowly developing the habit, and you're starting small with developing the habit. So that's what you can do. You can do that and about your exercise goals. You can do that about your meditation goals. You can do that, but kind of like any types of goals where you can break them down into a smaller thing. Where you can start small, and then grow them with time.
So for instance, you don't have to start by meditating 20 minutes a day, start by meditating for three minutes a day. Then grow that to five in a week ,and then grow that to seven minutes in a month and progress like that slowly. So that's one, one tip, that's the main concept of the Two Millimeter Shift. Very, very powerful thing, and I'm already applying in my life. I've been doing these pushups for a couple of days now.
The other thing that I wanted to mention is that there's another principle that you can apply on top of that. That is don't commit to don't commit to quantity, commit to time. So for instance, even what I'm doing the pushups 20 pushups ... let's look at a different example, let's look at running. For instance, you decide that you want to run five kilometers everyday. Well that's awesome, but how much is it going to take you in time? Is it going to take you 30 minutes? Is it going to take you an hour? Is it going to take you two hours? You can kind of estimate. But every day is going to be different, and every day it might take a bit longer, bit shorter, or it might be raining or might be something else.
And so what you might find is, you could get scared off of the idea of running, just because you don't know how much time it's going to take. So instead of committing in terms of kilometers, try committing in terms of time. So for instance, you could say, all right, I'm going to run today, I'm going to run every day, but I'm going to go run for 10 minutes. Right. It's a much easier ask on your psychology, on your mind, on your willpower to, "I only need to run for 10 minutes." Then you run one way for five minutes. You turn around, run back for five minutes. And that's it. It doesn't matter how many kilometers you did, you just trying to get into that habit.
Same thing for meditation, same thing. Even with this exercise thing like pushups, it's kind of easier there because 20 pushups in it only takes a minute or so to do, or a couple of minutes. But like if I were to say that I want to go swimming ,or I wanted to do, I'm more kind of like exercise, more intense exercise, then it would be better to commit in terms of time rather than quantity. So, that's an extra tip.
So we've got to sum up. Do two millimeter shifts to get yourself into habits, especially when some kind of activities involved where you can start small and grow it over time. Because in the long run you want to get to a different destination. You don't want to get there right now, but you want to get there eventually. And the second thing is try to commit in terms of time when you can, rather than in terms of quantity, or distance, or other types of metrics. Because when you commit time, that's the most valuable resource we have. And psychologically it's easier for you to make yourself do something if you know how much time it's going to take.
There we go. Hope you enjoy this episode, and hopefully this will help you implement some of the hacks that Carl Massy mentioned in his appearance on the podcast. I wish you a super healthy life, super productive, super full of energy. I can't wait to see you on the next episode. And until next time, happy analyzing.

Kirill Eremenko
Kirill Eremenko

I’m a Data Scientist and Entrepreneur. I also teach Data Science Online and host the SDS podcast where I interview some of the most inspiring Data Scientists from all around the world. I am passionate about bringing Data Science and Analytics to the world!

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