Today we’re going to talk about why “baby steps” are sometimes the most effective way to achieve lasting change.
Most people who come to see me want to make positive changes in their lives – whether it is within themselves, their relationships, their health. They may even need support while they figure out what needs to be changed.
You may have been giving change a great deal of thought. Usually, we need to build up to it in our minds before we take those first steps. When we reach the point of readiness, it can be frustrating to find that change rarely happens overnight. It takes time to take steps toward lasting change. So rather than allowing our frustration at the process to tear us down, let’s look at how the process of taking small steps toward your goals can actually work in your favor.
They’re called “baby steps” for a reason. Babies don’t one day just leap to their feet and start running. They do their prep work by crawling, flexing their legs, then beginning to stand and eventually take their first wobbly steps. They will be running soon enough, believe me, but each step in this process is small and manageable and there for a reason.
Your first step is in deciding to start. Identify your goal, make it as specific as possible, write it down, set some timelines for the journey, and share it with someone. All of these things make your goals more real, and more easily to visualize as you work toward them. These initial steps are like sign posts to direct you along your path as you go.
I think it will make a lot more sense if I can use an example of baby steps in action. If you don’t relate to this one, you can easily substitute your own steps that will help you meet your goals. So let’s use the goal of improving your relationship with your significant other as an example. Maybe you’ve noticed that the spark seems to be gone, or you are bickering more. You know change is needed. So you may identify things like making more time for one another, increasing intimacy, and improving communication as necessary parts for meeting your goal.
Baby steps toward making this happen might start out looking like committing to two hours a week, together, no distractions, sharing a meal and talking together. For intimacy, you can decide to give each other a hug at the beginning and end of each day. To improve communication, a small step might be to practice listening to your partner. Those all sound like minor actions, but I promise you, they aren’t. If your relationship is drying up for lack of attention, baby steps toward one another can feel safe, comfortable, and result in more long lasting changes. Above all, they are DO-ABLE. With any change, you want to set yourself up for success, not failure. Breaking your goals into small, manageable steps not only is far more likely to get the end result you want, but you get to enjoy many small successes along the way.
You can apply the idea of baby steps to anything – changing your diet, meeting new people, adding exercise to your life, or just having a happier outlook. Give it a try! Walk around the block one time…just one. Because telling yourself “I need to get in shape. Sign me up for that triathlon!” when you haven’t exercised in years is not likely to end well.
The road to success is usually paved with small, manageable steps. We often get so caught up in the end result that we forget that this process is a journey, and that there are very likely small successes and lessons along the way. The journey can be just as meaningful as the end result, so don’t miss it.
Video of this blog can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/jTXTDJHjGq0