It was raining. My dogs desperately needed to get out for a workout. I hate working out in the rain.
I wanted to blow it off, but that wouldn’t be fair to my two high-energy pups. Even so, I couldn’t seem to gather up enough oomph to get my feet heading for the door.
I tried the just get out there and do it pep-talk.
Resistance won that round too.
Finally I pulled out my not-so-secret weapon: the baby step.
I gave myself permission to go for just five minutes. After that, I could come in out of the rain if I wanted.
This round went to me J. I had enough oomph to get out the door for just five minutes.
After the first five minutes (which really weren’t as bad as all my internal whining and struggling suggested), I re-upped for another five. And then another.
By the time I was done, those increments had added up to four miles.
Small increments got me started and they kept me going.
When you’re feeling unmotivated, overwhelmed, time-constrained, or any other flavor of stuck, oomph is in short supply. It’s almost impossible to find the energy to jump in and just go for it.
Enter incremental baby steps. They don’t take a lot of oomph, and that makes them powerful.
Here are four reasons why small steps have a big impact:
- A small step can make the difference between getting started or standing still.If I hadn’t begun with a five-minute increment, there would have been no workout. Instead, my dogs and I walked four miles.
We all have things we want to accomplish, ranging from the day’s to-do list to long-term goals, building new habits, and learning new skills. Regardless of what you want to accomplish, the only way to be successful is to start.
- Small steps keep you moving.If the first step feels daunting, the second and third probably will too.
Eventually you’ll gain momentum, but first you have to create enough movement for the momentum to happen.
And it’s not just those early steps. You can lose momentum at any point in your process.
Years ago, I did a 120-mile bike ride from Los Angeles to San Diego. It ended with a three-mile-long steep hill. As I looked at the seemingly endless climb, I said (okay, whimpered) to my riding buddy, “I don’t think I have enough left in my legs to make it.”
I did make it to the top, but only because of his sage advice to keep my eyes focused on the ground right in front of me because … each inch or two is flat. Talk about an itsy-bitsy increment – but that’s what got me to the top of the hill!
Wherever you are in your process, don’t give up when it feels hard. Just focus on the next small step in front of you and keep moving.
- Small steps help you see progress and stay motivated.
If you’re traveling from point A to point Z and view your journey as one giant step, it’ll take a forever to see progress. When you can’t see progress, it’s easy to give up.On the other hand, if your trip is comprised of many steps – and in the case of A to Z there are 26, one for each letter of the alphabet 🙂 – you have many more opportunities to measure progress and celebrate success along the way.
Whatever you want to accomplish – showing up more authentically, having more balance in your life, increasing your impact, achieving a career goal – it’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you can see and celebrate success with each step you take.
- Small steps are easier to fit into a busy life. Enough said!
Where are you not making the kind of progress you’d like?
Pull out a piece of paper and make a list of a few bite-sized baby steps you could take to get started or move forward.
Choose one action on your list. After you’ve completed it, take a moment to acknowledge a job well done! Then move on to the next action on your list, and then the next.
You’ll get where you want to go one small step at a time.
And that’s what turns small steps into big impact.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh