How to Get Anything Done - Christine Kane

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?

Actually, no.

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.


  • Heidi C

    I too love the baby analogy. Great visual image for when you fall on your face.

    I wonder if the age a baby starts walking at could be an early indicator of personality type, not all babies start walking at the same time. I had one son who was running through the house at 9 months old. Today, he is still the fearless one, nothing bothers him. If he is going to do something, he just does it, how others feel about it, whether he’ll succeed is such a non-issue. Another son didn’t walk until about 14 months, he’d cruise the furniture, even let go and “dance” but no, not let go and walk on his own. I love them both, both have their own unique abilites, yet their personalities are so different.

  • karenlim

    Christine, what wonderful words you have just said: “Take baby steps”

    This is exactly the same teaching by Bob Proctor in his Free Report on Law of Attraction.

    The whole idea is when we set goal, we must have the desire, belief and expectation that what we want can become real.

    But most of the time, we set our goal too big till we do not even believe that we can achieve it.

    Thus setting baby step is a way to achieve more encouragement and action towards our goal.

    I blog regularly to share my success at my website so that like you I can continue to share success and inspire many to move on.

  • Alex Shalman

    Christine, you have such great humor behind this… that’s may favorite way to make a point.

    Can’t wait to see your perform at SOBCON! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Renita

    Christine, what you say about the ego is so true: we’re so conditioned to thinking in grand, dramatic (daunting) terms that it’s difficult sometimes to even come up with the small steps. But ‘breaking it down’ to ridiculously small, specific action items is one of the surest ways to counteract procrastination.

    Some examples I’ve used with myself and with coaching clients:

    “Sit down at piano” (instead of “practice three hours non-stop — memorize the Bach”)

    “Identify who the contact person is at potential client” (instead of “set up meeting with potential client”)

    “Find all emails from client regarding blah blah” (instead of “write comprehensive response to client complaints”)

    “Put workout clothes on, take train to the gym” (instead of “do high-intensity cardio for one hour, new weight training routine for half an hour”)

    The point is to make the “goal” small enough that you think, “That’s it? I can do that!” The added bonus of thinking small is that you have a greater sense of accomplishment AND you build up a sense of momentum from checking off multiple tasks. You’re going to be doing them away, you might as well get credit for it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • ChickiePam

    Hi Christine,
    About 10 years ago when I was belly aching to a counselor, she asked me how long I worked with my children until they could walk. My kids were 9 and 2 at the time, and both were walking! I looked at her quizically and she answered herself…”Until they can!” It’s so true. I was about to give up on my dreams. I was tired. I was discouraged. I didn’t know if I could do it or not… change my life and live it on my terms. So I have thought back to that moment many times. I have taken many baby steps. I’m in the process of converting a detached garage into a rental apartment and feeling overwhelmed by the process. I have done similar things in the past with much angst and want to do this renovation peacefully. Thank you for the reminder. I’m doing a better job than I did the last time. I needed to see that.
    love ya!

  • Caren

    But, Christeeeeeeeeeeeeennn… I don’t WANT to get things done! Then, my life might change, and all of these horrible things I believe about myself will be proven false! Dang! Now you’ve written this handy-dandy TRUE guide, I don’t have any more excuses!!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Swan!

    Hi Lisa, Laughing out loud is good. Glad I could help!

  • lisa

    Thank you for making me laugh out loud! I loved the baby analogy. I thought about it while I was out walking and it made me laugh again. It’s so true, too.

    I walked a labyrinth for the first time yesterday and it sort of made me think about the process, too. I have a tendency to want to know “right now” just what it is I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life so I can start doing it. lol Baby steps. The answer to so many of life’s questions.

  • Swan

    Absolutely, break everything down into babysteps and do one step at a time. This is the best advice ever, and it really works. This is the kind of simple advice that is powerfully life changing, and that anyone can do starting immediately.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Walter for your kind thoughts! As far as Morning Pages go — I would highly recommend that you continue that practice. They were designed for people who don’t quite trust their emotions and feelings. For someone like me – who has had a tendency to live through emotions and feelings – they are just not all that healthy. I believe it could be described as “offering a glass of water to a drowning person.” Keep working with them and see what happens. Even when it hurts. Some of those hurts need to come up so they can move on. The Artist’s Way was a huge book for me when I first started writing songs. I still recommend it to many people. And as far as the DVD – well, I don’t even play like Kotke or Atkins — so the answer would be, “No.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Joy – you always write the best things! ๐Ÿ™‚ and you are a teacher to all of your friends…

    Thanks Shan, and I look forward to reading how the commission project evolves!

    Hey Ken! Thanks for that and let us all know how it goes!

  • Ken D

    Thanks for another great post Christine. I really enjoy reading your articles – you have a nice writing style. I actually needed to read exactly what you wrote. I suffer from the get it all done right now illness and am trying to break free of it. I am in the process of actually setting some goals and writing them down and I’m gonna use your advice here to make them smaller. Thanks.

  • Shan

    This is a great post, Christine. I believe the joy of nearly everything is in the process.I’ve been doing the small segment thing with a commission project I’m really strugglingwith. Slowly, but surely,it’s getting done.

  • Joy

    in yesterday’s post you said, “the process is the best part.” in a way, the process is the only part. the process is in the moment and the moment is the only thing that exists. the goal only exists as a thought in the mind.

    my word for the year is “savor”. i just turned 60 and while i fully intend to live another 40 years i realize i want to fully live each moment of those 40 years. that means being as present in each moment (in the process) as i remember to be. i want to savor every precious moment whether i’m digging in the dirt or hugging and being hugged by my husband or talking to my closest friend on the phone.

  • Walter Hawn

    Christine, your blog is addictive. I thank you for incuding all those links to past articles. I learn best by the ‘random walk’ method, and your blog lets me do that. Some posts I’ve read, or at least skimmed, four, five and six times.

    In one post you remarked that you used to believe every one of your emotions. I have an opposite problem, as I’ve come to realize in the past few weeks. I *don’t* believe my emotions; I disbelieve so strongly that I seldom show or am aware of any. I’ve been working the Artist’s Way (slowly; last ‘week’ took 26 days), and that has been the major finding so far. Now that I’m beginning to feel something, it hurts. What to do?

    BTW — I bought your DVD — and the guitar lesson. Will I become Chet Atkins or Leo Kottke anytime soon?