Taking baby steps is a powerful strategy for accomplishing transformation in my life.
In the age where we super-size everything from French fries to sport utility vehicles, the advice of taking baby steps seems sacrilegious. Taking baby steps appears to be backwards to the common sense of striving to reach big goals. However, I have found that this critical perspective has enormous power in transforming my life.
Now, I am a firm believer in “BIG.” I love big dreams, big goals and big plans. In fact, my staff and colleagues often joke and give me a hard time for always being the “big picture guy,” when they just needed some concrete direction on a project. I love approaching life with the attitude of, “Shoot for the stars, and settle for the moon.” However, sometimes my big thinking is what gets in my way and I feel paralyzed to take action to reach some of my goals.
It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But sometimes that first step feels like I am going to step off a cliff into the dark abyss. So instead of taking action I become frozen with fear.
Learning to write books was one of those areas in my life where I have had to learn the importance of taking baby steps. I had a vision of all of the things that I wanted to say about what my research demonstrated about personal and community transformation. For years I would get up at four in the morning and write for hours before I went to work at the university. However, when I read what I had written I would judge it to be inadequate because it didn’t adequately capture the “big picture” that I had in my mind. I didn’t realize that I was sabotaging myself by only focusing on the big picture.
Then I changed the way I was looking at my writing. I started taking baby steps and writing little one-page chapters. I then also made a rule that I had to transfer what I wrote into my editor’s in-box and that I was not allowed to keep re-reading and editing them. Before I knew it, one chapter turned into twenty chapters and then a book. Each chapter became a baby step toward this book. And here is the real clincher, this book (and my other ones) still don’t adequately communicate the big picture vision of what I want to say—but they are important baby steps in that direction.
Over the decades of coaching and consulting clients who face similar challenges to reach their big dreams I realize that I am hardly alone. Too many people only focus on their big goals and forget the importance of taking baby steps in the direction of achieving that goal. All of us know people who are way out of shape and then begin a crash diet or dive into an overly ambitious exercise routine, only to burn out and return to their former weight or experience injury.
Financial goals are another area where many of us could benefit from taking baby steps. It is so easy to establish big important goals such as eliminating credit card debt or investing in ways to achieve financial freedom. We may see the big picture of what we want to accomplish, but when it comes to taking action we rationalize by telling ourselves that we will begin saving money tomorrow or the next time that we get a raise. But “tomorrows” and pay raises come and go and our cash flow patterns remain the same.
Whether in regard to the area of finances, weight loss, professional advancement or any other big goal in life, the key is to take action today. Nothing changes until something changes. Baby steps help because action always beats in-action. Any movement in the direction of your goal begins to shift the energy of the universe in the direction of your intention.
If you are stuck in your ability to accomplish some of the big goals in your life, apply the strategy of taking baby steps. Start some movement today and you will realize that you are experiencing the miracle of accomplishing your goals and dreams.
STRATEGIES: Take Baby Steps
1. Which areas of your life could benefit by you taking action?
2. Pick an area of your life where you have set a big goal of personal transformation. This could be in the area of your finances, beginning an exercise program or setting aside time for prayer and meditation. Take time to reflect about where you are currently and the goal of where you would like to be.
3. What are the feelings that come up for you when you look at the difference between where you are and where you want to be? What self-talk is keeping you from moving toward your goal?
4. Answer this question: “What would happen if you began taking baby steps toward your goal rather than waiting until the right moment to totally transform?”
5. Write or draw a picture of one of your big goals in a circle in the center of a piece of paper. Then draw lines emanating from the circle that represent baby steps that you can take toward reaching your goal.
6. Write out seven baby steps that you could take this week and then check them off one day at a time.
(Photo - http://1000awesomephotos.blogspot.com/2012/11/58-baby-feet.html)