Many of us who have tried to change something in our lives get overwhelmed. Confused. Frustrated. Anxious. Worried. Concerned. Stressed. Angry.
It isn’t pretty.
We can get caught up in the hugeness of it all. Especially if your challenge feels like the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest. You can, quite reasonably, ask yourself: How can I possibly achieve this? Do I have the skills? The capacity? The time? The patience? The perseverance?
It can just all seem too much.
Which is why I love what Robert Maurer PhD shares in his beautiful and oh so practical book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life.
In this book, Maurer shares the Kaizen way. “Kaizen is the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments” – or making the seemingly impossible possible by taking one small step, followed by another small step, followed by another small step.
It is taking small, steady steps with a clear head and clear heart.
Maurer advocates a very simple 5 step approach:
- Ask small questions
- Think small thoughts
- Take small actions
- Solve small problems
- Bestow small rewards
I love this. I aligns with my recommendation to “chunk down” challenges that seem too great or too big to tackle in one go.
For our My Year Without Clothes Shopping program members, I will often suggest, if they are feeling overwhelmed, that they recommit to the challenge for one week only. After that 7 days, they can review and recommit to the challenge and their goals. You can see the end of 7 days from here, that’s what makes it so achievable. And sometimes that’s what we need – an accomplishment to reassure us, to remind us that we can do this.
As one of Maurer’s patients, quoted in the book, says,
“The steps are so small, I couldn’t fail”.
When I worked for consulting giant Deloitte, we would often talk to clients about “Quick Wins”. These were comparatively small actions we can take in the short term that would yield a quick and desired or positive result. On projects that were scheduled to run over many years and affect hundreds, if not thousands of people, these Quick Wins were a critical strategy to boost morale and reassure everyone involved that the project was worth the effort, time and money.
Quick Wins are another version of the chunking down philosophy and approach, and it works beautifully.
We all need to feel that we can achieve our goals, that we can slay our dragons, whatever they are for us. That we can prevail and become triumphant over whatever adversity it is we face.
So whatever goal, dream or challenge you are taking on right now, consider:
- What small questions should and could you be asking?
- What small thoughts can you be thinking?
- What small actions can you take and continue to take?
- What small problems can you approach and solve?
- What small rewards can you give yourself?
What is one small step you can take today toward reaching your goal?