I once had a client who was really stuck in moving forward. She wanted to declutter her space, but every time she tried to tackle it she would shut down and do nothing. This occurred because when she saw all that she had to do she went into overwhelm and gave up.
This is true for a lot of people. We see all that we have to do and go into overwhelm and don’t do anything. I asked her what she thought she could realistically do each day, even if it was 15 minutes, and then walk away and do other things. She agreed to do 30 minutes a day.
The key was daily action, baby steps. The decluttering didn’t happen overnight, but inch by inch and foot by foot she decluttered her space. She got so excited about this that she applied it to weight loss and lost 30 lbs. It was a success story. She was excited and so was I!
You see, the problem for many is that they get lost in the big picture and do nothing because of overwhelm. How in the world are they going to get there? Or, they think about all that has to be done and become paralyzed. It’s okay to dream big, but it’s really important to start small and sometimes really small.
There is some science to support this. UCLA Behavioral Scientist Robert Maurer says that any change, whether it is good or bad, can be perceived by the brain as a threat and therefore stop a person from taking action. So, to avoid triggering a fear response, you need to make the action so small that it becomes almost impossible not to do it. We call this a micro commitment. What is the big deal about these micro-commitments? They eventually become habits and that’s when change really starts happening.
It really is the little things that are done repeatedly that eventually get a lot of traction and take us somewhere. For example, if I only exercise 10 minutes a day, I’m not only doing something positive for my wellbeing but I’m doing something that can be easily done. If I keep going it with it, I will form a habit of exercising 10 minutes a day. And even 10 minutes benefits for your health. Eventually that 10 minutes will turn into 15 or 20 minutes because it’s not hard anymore. I feel good doing it and will probably want to do more.
If I drink two glasses of water today, I will feel more hydrated than I did yesterday. If I keep doing this daily, I will form a habit of drinking 2 glasses of water each day. Soon, my intake of water will no doubt go up because I handled two well and now three seems like a piece of cake.
Small steps or baby steps over time add up to some pretty big results. What is something you know you are willing to do? One push up? One glass of water? Get consistent with it daily and before you know it you will have formed a new habit. You will feel great about it and it will give you motivation to take on something else or even a bigger step.
Baby steps are good. They’re actually your friend and give you small wins. Remember, any journey begins with the first mile. You have to take action. If you walk to the end of your street today, it’s more than you did yesterday. Do it each day and before you know it you will be walking around the block. If you can think of it that way, it’s not only helpful but takes you out of overwhelm and that’s a nice feeling.
Give yourself permission to start small. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One fork full at a time!