“Baby steps, baby steps through the office, baby steps out the door…”
I can still laugh at the trials and tribulations of neurotic Bob and his psychotherapist in “What about Bob”, and as funny as they were, that little piece of advice does often guarantee success.
Big tasks often seem so overwhelming that we get discouraged and give up before we even try. We can’t fully and correctly evaluate complex tasks, but in many situations, we are faced with such tasks, whether it’s a massive project at work, setting up your own business, writing a book, finding your ideal home, planning your wedding, or committing to lose extra weight. Or making a decision to change your life, heal your wounds and start your healing journey.
1. Make it simple.
First reaction to big goals and massive projects may be a resistance, anxiety or helplessness. It occurs because you don’t know where to start, and it’s natural. What is important is to start somewhere. And start small.
By starting small, it becomes manageable and easier. With the first step you gain confidence and that makes every second and third step come to you so much smoother. At some point it just starts flowing naturally at it stops being what you do – it starts being who you are.
One of the greatest tips I’ve ever got was:
Everyday do something that brings you in the direction of your goal.
2. It starts with a single step, and the first step is the hardest. From there, it gets easier.
I’ve grown up believing I’d never be good at sports. I wasn’t picked first at PE classes to form a team, quite the opposite, and there were always girls in my class fitter than me and more eager to play team sports. I never liked contact sports where we bumped against each other and the brutal one got to win. Gymnastics and swimming I enjoyed, as I had my own space and didn’t collide with others.
But as is the case with your subconscious mind, somewhere, somehow that belief “I’m not fit” stayed imprinted in me for years and I avoided gyms until years later my then-partner subtly suggested to me to start going to a gym. Aside from the fact I felt offended, I remember how much I struggled, resisted, and searched for excuses before I started looking around and finally enrolled in a gym nearby. That was probably the hardest part.
I took a baby step and started small – with a Zumba class. First time I stood at the very back of the class and could barely follow the moves. Second time my coordination improved, and it went smoother, and third time even smoother. This adventure turned out to be a beginning of a life-long passion. And a start of my new identity as a fit person. Zumba led to other sports and now I can’t even imagine that I, on my own accord, would choose to skip my workout.
3. Don’t wait to be motivated.
We all understand that motivation is that driving force that explains why we act and react in a certain way. Why we do certain things, why we make certain choices. There is however something about it we often don’t realize.
So, here is the thing many of us don’t know about motivation: it doesn’t come to us. It doesn’t magically turn up in our doors, so don’t wait until you feel motivated. Just do it and do it anyway. Motivation is what we do, what we undertake, what we initiate.
You need to light a spark before it grows into a flame.
And so, I believe in power of the first steps, and baby steps. Every action, even small, takes you further as you work your way towards your final destination. And it’s so much easier to do something simple.
Small steps go a long way, and those first ones are absolutely essential.
4. Do it for yourself.
In psychology we distinguish two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. The main difference between the two is that extrinsic motivation comes from the outside, while the intrinsic one comes from within. Being extrinsically motivated, you do something in order to earn a reward or avoid a punishment. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, makes you take action because you, for example, simply like it.
Even though, external factors, like awards and prizes, or recognition and approval of other people can be helpful in some situations, a real, long-term success and fulfillment comes from within. For example, when you need to complete a project, you don’t usually enjoy, being motivated by an external bonus surely helps you get on with work and finalize it. But success here wouldn’t last long. Motivation from within proves to be more effective over time when it comes to accomplishing goals, and it comes with a sense of fulfillment and self-realization.
So, in order to increases your success rate in the long run and feel truly satisfied and fulfilled, it’s important that we find the drive to take action within us. For those magical first steps, and all others that follow.
5. Ask for help.
But how to deal with your goals and long to-do-lists when you feel overwhelmed? When you still feel fearful or insecure – ask for help. Sometimes it’s just as simple as reaching out to other people who can help you accomplish your goal. Whether it’s a trusted friend or a coach. Your success rate goes up tremendously when you know someone’s got your back. And there are many skilled professionals who would be thrilled to help you.
And remember what Bob learnt (and he turned out just fine):
“One little step at a time and I can do anything!”