The Drip Method: A Minimalist Guide to Success

If your sink faucet drips like mine does, try this experiment:

Plug up the drain before you go to bed. When you wake up, measure the amount of water pooled up in the sink. If you’re adventurous, leave the sink plugged up for a week. And if you’re asking for trouble, leave it plugged up for a month – just to see what happens.

Now, imagine how much water has been dripped over the past 10 years from your faucet alone and multiply that by the millions of dripping faucets around the world. Consider that a typical leaky faucet costs an extra $2-$3 a year, and you can see that this small annoyance is actually a multi-million dollar problem.

Most people don’t have time for drips. In our fast-paced, attention-deprived culture, little thought is given to things that don’t produce big results.

But it’s the small things that are making the biggest difference.

If you’re serious about reaching your goals, making a difference, and achieving success at what you do, you need to start focusing on the small things that add up to make the biggest impact.

63% of U.S adults are overweight. Here’s why:

Over half of Adults in America are overweight. And a lot of them have no idea how it happened. It creeped up on them slowly and one day, they looked in the mirror and thought, “Whoa, what happened here!”

The thing is, they haven’t changed their eating habits since their younger, fitter days, but they’re metabolism has waned a bit. Let’s say 10 years after graduating from college you weigh 25 pounds more. That’s a noticeable difference in the way you look and feel, but oddly enough, it’s the result of a mere 25 calorie-a-day excess.

That’s one Hershey Kiss worth of calories a day. Making that small adjustment would have kept those pounds off and left you happier and healthier. The power of the drip works both ways: it can be harnessed for success or ignored at your own detriment.

Simplifying Success

The drip method taps into the power of slow, incremental progress over long periods of time. Instead of striving towards success, and wasting valuable mental energy, you focus on the habits that will let you reach your goals naturally.

The beauty of the drip method is that it frees you from unhealthy expectations. A lot of people start something with the idea that they need to become an instant success. When drastic results don’t arrive immediately, they get discouraged and give up before the effects of their hard work start accumulating.

The minimalist approach to success is much smarter than that. It understands that noticeable changes and results can take weeks, months, or dare I say it, years before arriving. Then, one day when you least expect it, you’ll look around and say “Whoa, what happened here?” You’ll be staring at a successful business that you started, or watching your first child get married, or stepping on a scale to realize that you reached your weight goal after two years of healthy habits and exercise.

4 Simple Pleasures to Experience

The drip method isn’t a self-help strategy to help you achieve your goals; it’s a simplified mindset towards the whole idea of success. Instead of entering into the rat race, you can choose to step back and enjoy the course of slow, incremental progress. Life isn’t about the number of things you accomplish, its about the changes that occur in you and those around you from the work you do.

Instead of beating yourself to accomplish your goals, see how the drip method can allow you to experience the simple pleasures of progress:

  1. Less pressure. You don’t have to become an overnight success. Take baby steps and be content with small, incremental progress. For a change, focus on the internal changes that are taking place within you.
  2. More success. Most people throw in the towel after a few weeks if results don’t come immediately. Those who are in it for the long haul end up succeeding because they’re the last ones standing.
  3. More enjoyment. When results stop becoming an obsession, you can actually slow down and enjoy the process of working towards a goal. It’s a very rewarding journey but few people realize it because they’re so busy rushing towards the end.
  4. Personal Development. The drip method requires patience. Instead of instant satisfaction (like we’re programmed to expect), you’ll experience the overwhelming contentment of delayed gratification. Happy people know that delayed rewards are the best type.

What else can you enjoy from slowing down and experiencing The Drip Method?

This is a gust post from Mike Donghia.



  1. says

    The simplest of things always seem to matter the most….

    …the good and the bad alike.

    When I started taking 30 seconds everyday to just focus on my breathing, I saw my stress and blood pressure plummet. All it took was acknowledging one small simple act and my life was changed.

    Thanks for acknowledging the small things in life.

    David Damron

  2. says

    When a person wants change in their lives, they try to make MAJOR changes and in most situations, they changes will overwhelm them. This makes it difficult to continue. While those types of changes may be necessary in serious situations, we can usually best affect log-term major change by taking those little bitty steps, the drips.
    I want to be physically fit, but I know better than to start with an hour of working out everyday. So, I made a committement to walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes. That was 2 weeks ago. I have missed 1 day and I am up to 30 minutes. I will do my best to continue that minimal commitment of 15 minutes, and hopefully it will propel me into a longer more lasting exercise routine.
    Great post! If we were to implement these suggestions, we could change so much in our lives!

    • says

      Hi Bernice!

      I think you’re right, major changes sometimes cause us to focus on the outcome of our changes while taking baby steps tends to have the opposite effect – we enjoy the process and we’re more likely to stick with it.

      Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving :)

  3. says

    I love this post! There is a tap that drips vigourously in the staff room at the place I have been working for the last few months. I think that it hasn’t been fixed for just the reason you described. I wonder if it would have been fixed if someone had blocked the sink one night.

    I also love this post because it has just encouraged me continue with my blog. I missed a post the evening before, and even though I fixed that straight away last night, it sapped my morale, because I thought that I would lose all the readers I don’t yet have.

    Your post has reminded me that this blog that I’m building will only grow slowly, with careful attention, and in its own time.


    PS – You have a new subscriber! :-)

    • Courtney Carver says

      Joe, Thanks for subscribing. Let me know what you want to hear about and how I can be more helpful!

    • says

      Joe, that’s awesome. Seriously.

      I’ve been tempted to give up on things when I fall off track or don’t see progress come quickly, but if you do that every time, you’ll never get to experience the joy of doing something just because you enjoy it. When you focus on that – the results will probably follow :)

      Take care!

  4. says

    I’m low on patience, help! What I like about this process is the enjoyment. That alone is worth it to me. If I’m not enjoying something…why am I doing it? When in a rush to succeed I cheat myself out of enjoyment.

  5. Carol says

    Brilliant! I LOVE the metaphor of the drip and how it will fill up a sink in time – great way to remember this concept. Which, by the way, is similar to the Japanese principle of kaizen – small changes, repeated many times = success. Thanks to both Mike and Courtney – Mike for writing it and Courtney for putting the guest post on her blog! :)

  6. says

    Awesome post Courtney! I love how you talk about focusing on the small steps. I too have noticed that if you just put your head down and do things little by little, big things happen. Focusing on the sheer magnitude of huge goals is a sure recipe for overwhelming oneself and getting discouraged. Bravo on another great article!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Marvin! thanks for commenting. This is a guest post from Mike at The Art of Minimalism. So glad you like it.

      • Marvin says

        Hi Courtney!

        Hahaha…had the “scanning” lenses on today. Missed the notations on it being a guest post. Nonetheless…awesomeness! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. says

    I declutter by the drip method and it sure is working for me. Instead of rushing to offload a heap of stuff I have taken my time, decluttered one thing a day for the last 329 day. Not only do a have less stuff cluttering up my home but through the drip method I have taken the time to learn from my mistakes and embraced a more minimalist approach to decluttering. Therefore I am far less likely to find myself having to start from scratch in twelve months time.

    • says

      Hi Colleen! I think you’re blog (and lifestyle) epitomize the drip method. One thing a day is easy – multiply that by 365 things and you have a brand new life. wow!

      Thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    Excellent post Mike.

    What’s great about the drip method too is that it lasts because you embed new habits into your daily life. It’s not a quick fix you try for a few days then abandon in frustration. Working a little each day on something you’re passionate about – even for just 10 or 15 minutes (or as David Damron said above – just 30 seconds!) – will enhance your life in a lasting, profound way. The older I get, the more powerful I realise the daily practice of the things that matter to you is the way to contentment and calm, and making a significant difference to the lives of others.

    PS/ Thanks Courtney too for invited Mike to guest post. : )

    • says

      I think that’s what I like about it too, Dan – it’s not just a quick fix. It’s a small change which can become a life changing habit.

      Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving :)

  9. says

    “Instead of striving towards success, and wasting valuable mental energy, you focus on the habits that will let you reach your goals naturally.”

    Great post. I really liked the piece above. It’s hard in this deadline and goal oriented world to remember that life is about the journey and not the destination. I see in so many areas of my life that it has to be about enjoying the process to get to the success/finish line.

    • says

      Rachel, you are so right. I find it hard with all the pressure to be goal oriented, but I’m slowly letting go of this attachment. I hate promoting my own stuff, but you might enjoy my recent post: the unproductivity manifesto – I talk a lot about the things you mentioned.


  10. says

    Hey Mike! Just got around to reading it after all the holiday craziness. I’ve always been guilty of the “get angry if the water doesn’t come on full blast right away” mindset. This was an important reminder for me to be patient, especially with growing a new blog. Thanks for another great post.