Small Steps Rule!

Caught in the procrastination box, perhaps? Or stalled out at some point in a project? Maybe it's time to pull out your ace tool: small steps. Even handier than a corkscrew, they also never wear out and—cooler still—never lead to a hangover. Plus, when used purposefully, those steps can help you achieve remarkable goals and/or make significant changes. Try them on tough goals or complex projects or when you either can't get started or can't get back on track.

Making Small Steps Work for YOU

Simply stated, small steps can serve as a "stealth" Hummer for daunting (or tedious) terrain. That's because their modest nature allows you to take a “softer” approach toward your goal(s), rather than forcing you to make some kind of grand assault. And therein may lie the difference between a project undertaken and one languishing on the drawing board or sputtering to a halt well short of the goal. Here are some examples...

* Spread the paint job over two or three days rather than a single fraught day/weekend, one you perhaps keep postponing. For example, buy the paint and prep materials well ahead of the Big Day; that way, you can do any prepping and masking needed beforehand. Then, all that remains is to lay down the drop cloths and paint the walls on painting day.

If a second coat is required, consider doing that job the following day. Want to paint the woodwork, too? Perhaps deal with 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 better. 

* Write your blog post over a couple of days instead of trying to do it 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.

* Purge and organize your closet one shelf or section at a time instead of hauling everything out at once. Yes, that suggestion contradicts advice we often receive from clutter/organization gurus, but you might be more likely to get started if you try this method. It works for me pretty well—if I actually take the first step.

* Clean out your garage a step at a time. The first one? Pick a place to start: locating a container for giveaways. perhaps. There's your start! Now, whenever you come upon a dispensable item, into the container it goes. Next, you find or buy something to hold items for Craig's List or a garage sale (if you're considering either). Another container could hold the “maybes,” items you’re not sure you want to let go of just yet. As with your initial box or bin, you begin filling these as your time and inclination permit.

Getting all of the containers 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.

As you fill the containers, you begin taking them to your favorite charity or thrift store. 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) back in the garage. 

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. With small steps, many enterprises become way less complicated. Now, you can sneak up on your objective and sometimes even do end-runs around the obstacles. Now, you can tackle projects, goals, and even significant transitions you might otherwise never attempt. 

For more on the step-it-out theme, you might take a look at One Small Step Can Change Your Life, among the more-helpful books I've found thus far. If you can't find it at your library, Amazon carries it—for a price. Meanwhile, consider trying some small steps yourself...always remembering that the most important step is the first one

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