Small Steps Rule!

Here's a question to consider, if it strikes a chord: Could you be under-using the power of small steps? Although those fabulous tools can often help us attain goals ambitious or routine, their very simplicity may too often sideline them.

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

Such steps also excel 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 softer approach toward the objective, rather than making some kind of grand assault.

And therein may sometimes 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, small steps provide us with a tool as useful as a corkscrew, but without the hangover potential. Here are a but few examples of ways someone (you or I, for example) might apply such steps in practical ways:

*Spreading a big paint job over a few days rather than 8 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 few days, instead of trying to crank it out in one evening after several hours of activity (and maybe a glass or two of wine).
 The even-better quality of your output when you feel fresher and have 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 an ample 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 and/or aren't sure what to do with if you are. As with your initial box or bin, you fill these next containers as your time and inclination permit.

Getting all those receptacles 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. Touchdown!!

Sure—maybe your own garage looks like a million bucks. But perhaps you have a different challenge (or five or six) waiting in the wings. With small steps, you could begin sneaking up on those...and also now and then celebrating how far you've come, rather than beating yourself up over the "distance" remaining(!)

Please, please give yourself credit for what you accomplish AS you accomplish it, instead of allowing your inner critic to disparage your progress when it fails to take place at the speed of light. Okay?! Meanwhile, your fans will be cheering; as for the grumps and disparagers, who cares.


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If you choose to explore this site, please understand three things: (a) I am neither therapist nor professional coach; (b) my focus here is primarily aging women; (c) my comments are not intended to disparage any women (or men) whose immediate choices may range from limited to nonexistent. To them (or anyone, really), I mean no offense with my remarks.

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