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The Joy and Power of Small Steps

By Philip Humbert

I've written about my suspicion of "Giant Steps" before. Lots of coaches and programs, motivational seminars, books and conferences encourage you to take "massive action" or create major changes in life, really fast. And of course, when that's both possible and appropriate, it's wonderful! What fun to dramatically expand your income and get rich and famous all at once! If you can get fit, slim and trim and become a whole "new you" in 30 days, go for it! I love it when that happens! But it doesn't happen very often. And when it does, it doesn't always last. Not everyone who wins the lottery finds happiness in the months afterward.

For myself (call me a small thinker if you wish), I prefer the solid reliability of persistent, consistent small steps that inevitably lead to the achievement of my most important goals. These past few weeks, I've seen the practicality of that once again.

Underneath our home, we have a huge storage area, about 1000 square feet. It's a semi-finished basement that, when we built the house twenty years ago, we planned to finish into a daylight basement and family room. But, until we get to that (someday, real soon now!), I'll just store these old files down there. And, since there's plenty of room, this old couch and these tools and those boxes of books will go nicely over in that corner. You get the picture. For years, it's been full of junk.

Well, no more! A couple weeks ago, I decided my "spring cleaning" project was to clear it all out. In a single afternoon. Yeah. Sure. Right. That first day, I made dramatic progress. I took a pick-up load of obsolete files from my old clinic to be shredded, several hundred pounds worth. It was a great start and all it cost me was a sore back, and exhaustion. Several days later, I'd made no additional progress and discouragement set in. So I made an executive decision. No more "all in one day" fantasies. I committed to doing something, no matter how big or small, every single day. "Inch by inch, anything's a cinch" became my motto.

And in two weeks, I'm almost done. A couple loads have been donated to Goodwill, and a couple loads have gone to the dump. We've sold almost $1200 of old tools and furniture, and the floor is clear except for the new shelves I've built. This week, I'll install new lighting and next week the carpet guys are coming. Inch by inch, day by day, really works!

I suspect the same thing will work for you on just about any goal you are truly committed to achieve.

Want to learn a new language? It can't be done in a day, but practice 30-60 minutes a day and in a month, you'll see some nice results.

Want to double your sales, run a marathon or raise healthy kids? You won't accomplish those things in a day, or even in a week. But over a few weeks or months, anything is possible!

The key is small, persistent and consistent steps, every single day. Want to save for retirement? Invest a little every month. Want a better marriage? A nice date every week, and conversation over brunch each Sunday can work wonders.

A great life is no accident, and it doesn't happen overnight. A great, balanced and satisfying life is built day- by-day, over time, with persistent action. It's built with some consistent trial-and-error and even more trial-and-success!

Big, rapid change requires tremendous discipline, skill and unusual luck. It's hard work, and it can be upsetting for everyone involved, including yourself and your loved ones. That breeds resistance and hesitation.

Slow, steady progress, on the other hand, is safe, satisfying and enormously powerful. Folks want to cheer you on! They long to be around success and they'll encourage you every step of the way. Trust me on this! (I did get a nice backrub after that first exhausting day, but then "the look" set in when no further progress was forthcoming. Now, I get hugs and high-fives and other nice rewards, every single day! I love that!)

To achieve remarkable things, define your goal, develop a practical, do-able strategy, and persist. It works! Inch by inch and day by day, anything is possible!

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