Small Steps Rule!

So, remember small steps? Those would be the ace tools that can often help you attain uber-ambitious goals; that are so great for complex projects...or for tasks and projects that, while perhaps not all that complex, remain either unaddressed or uncompleted; that are unsurpassed (IMHO) when you simply cannot get started or need to get back on track.

    The "Joy" of Small Steps

Here's what I like best about these little gems: because of their generally nonthreatening nature, they allow you to take a “soft” (sneaky?) approach toward your objective(s), 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 sputtering to a halt well short of the goal.

  Small Steps in Action

Here, for example, are ways most of us could use small steps in practical ways:

*Spreading a paint job over two or three days rather than, 6 to 18 fraught hours, which you possibly keep postponing (as who could blame you?). For example, buying the paint and prep materials well ahead of the Big Day allows you to do any prepping and masking needed 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 better. 

* 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 for me fairly well (umm, when I've actually taken the first step).

* Cleaning out your garage a step at a time. Simply locating a container for giveaways, for example. Now, whenever you come upon a dispensable item, it has a place to go. A possible next step? 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. (As don't we all, right?) If you remember the power of small steps, you may find those things less complicated and/or tedious. Now, you may be sneaking up on your objective and perhaps even doing the occasional end-run around obstacles. Now, you may be tackling projects, goals, and even significant transitions you possibly wouldn't otherwise attempt. 

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

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