Small Steps Rule!

Here's a question some of us may find useful to ask ourselves: Could we be under-using the "magic" of small steps? Although those fabulous tools can often help us attain goals both ambitious and "routine," their very simplicity may sideline them unduly.

Yet, they're a terrific way to burrow through complex projects and also ace tasks and projects that, while perhaps not so complex, remain either unaddressed or uncompleted.

Such steps also excel (IMHO), when you simply cannot get started or need to get back on track. For example, because of their generally nonthreatening nature, small (quiet) steps allow us to take a “soft” approach toward the objective(s), rather than making some kind of grand assault.

And therein may now and then lie the difference between a
project undertaken and one languishing on the drawing board or derailing short of the goal.

  Small Steps in Action

In a nutshell, we have a tool as useful as a corkscrew...yet, not leading to a hangover! Here are a but few examples of applying small steps in practical ways:

*Spreading a paint job over a few days rather than 6 to 12 fraught hours, which you possibly keep who could blame you? For example, buying the paint and prep materials well ahead of the Big Day allows you to do prepping and masking beforehand. Then, all that remains is to position the drop cloths and paint the walls on whatever day you choose.

If a second coat is required, perhaps you deal with that the following day (after a good night's sleep). Want to paint the woodwork, too? Maybe you take care of that a few days before (or after) tackling the walls. Sure, it takes longer to do it that way, but the job also gets done and possibly done somewhat better. [But try not to get sucked into the perfection trap! Done often beats perfect.]

* Writing your report, article, or grant over a period of days instead of trying to crank it out one evening after work (and maybe a glass or two of wine).
 The quality of your output when less stressed and with more time to reflect might surprise you.

* Purging and organizing your closet one shelf or section at a time instead of hauling Everything out before you begin. True, that suggestion contradicts advice we often receive from clutter and organization gurus, but you might be more likely to get started with this method. It's worked pretty well for me from time to time (when I've actually taken the first step).

* Cleaning out your garage a step at a time. A good first step? Locating a container for giveaways. Now, whenever you encounter suitable items, they have a place to go. A possible next step could be finding something to hold any items you might consider selling.

Another container could hold the “maybes,” items you’re not sure you're ready to let go of just yet. As with your initial box or bin, you fill these next containers as your time and inclination permit.

Getting all those on board may or may not take a while, depending upon how busy you are. But they're vital to the task, not only because they create a starting point but also because they allow you to sort through your stuff in a rational way.

When you've filled a few "giveaway" containers, you take them to your favorite charity or thrift stores. If you have an eBay container, perhaps you're also auctioning an item or two every now and then. And you just keep taking such steps, one after another, for as long as it takes to get your car(s) sleeping in the garage again. (Yes!)

Sure—maybe your own garage looks like a million bucks, you fox. Perhaps, though, you have a different challenge or two waiting in the wings of your life. If you call upon the power of small steps, you could start sneaking up on such challenges and perhaps even do the occasional end-run. In fact, perhaps you might tackle some projects, goals, and/or transitions you'd otherwise not attempt (always remembering that the most important step is the first one). 

Another suggestion? Every now and then, celebrate how far you've come, rather than beating yourself up about how far you may still have to go. Deal?

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