A lot of success coaches and motivational speakers tell you to THINK BIG. They tell you to create a big vision in order to succeed. And I agree – having a big vision is necessary to accomplish big things.
At the same time, even big things are compiled of multiple smaller components – and so I find myself coaching clients to think of small steps instead.
Whenever you are in a tight spot in life, it is important to focus on the goodness of life at the present moment. The past is over and the future is not here yet. This is the perfect time to appreciate what you do have now instead of focusing on fear or lack.
Being laid off is a case in point. If you are out of work and have been for some time, it may be difficult to think about the perfect job or the ultimate contribution you want to make in the world. At this stage of the game, you may just want a paycheck… but now is the time to think small.
This bleak season of uncertainty will pass. Make the most of it by finding small steps where you can make a difference. Spend more time with loved ones, help the children with homework, plant some flowers. You can teach yourself a new skill or take a local adult education class. Revisit your vision for your life; dream a new dream. Being unemployed may feel like a permanent condition. The fact is, it is a season that will surely pass. You are not going to be out of work forever, so take small steps in the areas where you are able to now!
Whenever a project feels huge, it’s time to think small. If the size or complexity of the project overwhelms you, focus on just the next few small steps. Locate the phone numbers you need to call… schedule the time to make the call. Outline the chapters of the book you want to write…commit to writing just one page a day. Unclutter one drawer at a time instead of thinking about uncluttering the whole house. Baby steps will get you there.
Even in business, there’s a place and time for thinking small. When thinking big, we often complicate things with too many ideas and we overwhelm ourselves.
No matter where you are in life, there is always something you can do. If you cannot tackle big things now, don’t dither in indecision – start with small steps! Here are a few pointers to help you take small steps forward with confidence:
- Pick just one or two things to focus on each day. I find that most clients are trying to do too much in too little time. As a result, few things get completed. If you commit to one or two things daily, you’ll get more done and feel less stressed.
- Revel in little things. Go out and literally smell the roses. Slow down and appreciate your surroundings. Taste your food instead of inhaling it. Have meaningful conversation instead of passing interactions. Take small steps forward with appreciation rather than big steps with fear.
- Scale down. Get rid of physical clutter as well as mental clutter. Review your obligations and decide if they still serve you. Do you need to withdraw from some? Clear your mind by doing a brain dump: put your ideas, to-dos and tolerances (those things you are tolerating) down on paper. Prioritize what you choose to do and what you choose to let go; then take small steps to simplify your life.
- Focus on being great at what you do, rather than being the best. The best is the enemy of the great, just as perfection is the enemy of the acceptable. When you choose to be great, you’ll begin to do things from a place of excellence instead of overwhelm. Small and excellent steps trump big and anxious strides in my book any day!
- Allow extra time for everything you do. If doing a task will take ten minutes, allow yourself twenty. That way, you take small steps to build buffer time into your day to cope with unexpected events. If you finish in less time than that… go watch the clouds!
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