Let’s say you had a baby. Congratulations! Your baby is the best human ever! You love your baby. You celebrate as it starts to crawl. You and your partner delight in this baby’s every new adventure.
Then, one day, the baby stands up on her own. “Yaaaaay!” you cheer. You clap your hands. The baby smiles and laughs. You think, “Wow. She’s gonna learn how to walk. Isn’t that great?”
One evening, you and your partner are on the carpet playing with your baby. Suddenly, your perfect child stands up again. She braces herself on the coffee table. You lean forward. Your partner grabs the movie camera. You get your parents on the phone to listen to the play-by-play. Walking is a big deal!
Your child lurches forward. You all gasp and hold your collective breath.
Then, CLUNK. She falls onto her butt on the carpet.
“Awwwww,” you say.
“Damn,” your partner says.
“Well, I guess that’s it. This one just wasn’t cut out for walking,” your parents say from their home in Boise.
“Oh well,” you say. “It wasn’t meant to be. That sucks.”
You hang up the phone. You turn off the camera. You take the baby up to bed. Tomorrow you’ll begin the search for a bigger stroller because your kid’s obviously gonna have to get through life on wheels.
Get the idea?
And yet, how many of us act like this with our own small beginnings?
Your project or your dream or your creation or your goal is your baby. If we all gave up on our kids as much as we give up on ourselves, then we’d have a race of humans with big calluses on their knees.
The Best Way to Take Action: Baby Steps
Every big project or big goal can be broken down into baby steps. Little lurches forward. Sometimes they’re clumsy. Sometimes they don’t even seem to make an impact. But this is how anything gets done.
– Years and years of built up clutter get sorted and thrown away one drawer at a time. (Plan for 30-minutes a day in one zone of the house – not “Get rid of clutter.”)
– Years and years of reckless eating and unhealthy habits get shifted one work-out at a time. (Plan a 45-minute work-out 5 days a week, and a once a month visit to an acupuncturist for a year – not “Lose 50 pounds by June.”)
– A song gets written in fits and starts. Hour by hour. Moment by moment. A flash of an idea. Then an edit. (Schedule in an hour of songwriting time in the morning. Start with scales to warm up. Not “Write Lots of Songs.”)
– A blogger builds her audience one post at a time, one link at a time. (Do one blog-activity for an hour each day. Not “Get 14,000 subscribers by September.”)
That’s how it works. It stinks, doesn’t it?
Remember how I said in yesterday’s post that the process is the best part? That it’s where you learn and grow? Well, that’s the gem here. When you learn how to break a goal down into baby steps, and how to complete something fantastic using that method, then you have the key to doing anything.
The only block is your ego. Your ego wants it to be done now. Your ego wants to move through life risk-free, foolish-free, discouragement-free, mistake-free, tired-free. And the best way to trick your ego (and yourself) into letting go a little bit is to take baby steps.
I wrote a post in February about taking risks. For some people, baby steps are the big risk. Baby steps are a huge risk to your ego because they are so easy. SO easy! The ego wants big deals, major accomplishments, huge weight-loss, and fast results. In other words, the ego likes adjectives, not nouns. Those adjectives guarantee that you’ll stay stuck and never try anything new. Over time you’ll get that deals, accomplishments, weight-loss, and results feel pretty good — even without adjectives.
And besides, small is the new big. That goes for setting goals and taking action, too.
Now, try this: Take one of the two things you picked yesterday and ask yourself, “What one baby step could I take every day to complete this goal?” And then (and this is the big challenge) get out your calendar and schedule it in there daily for the whole month of May.
p.s. Don’t just nod your head. Get out your calendar. Schedule the time. Do it now.