Behold - The Mighty Baby Step!
by Sharon Teitelbaum
Clutter? What clutter? My friend Chris eliminated a major portion of the deeply entrenched clutter in her mountain home, something she has intended to do for years! How did she do it? By doggedly, persistently, taking small, do-able steps over the course of about 6 weeks. She eradicated the piles of papers on her floors and recycled the extra furniture and clothing that she no longer liked or used. She bought color-coded storage systems – drawers and bins and folders – and labeled and used them. She completed items on old lists and got rid of the lists; she kept newly cleared surfaces clear. As she persisted in this project, week after week, something new emerged. Her intention to "get rid of clutter" was replaced by an energizing desire to bring beauty and harmony into her home. This powerful positive inclination toward order, simplicity, and esthetics took on life and momentum of its own. The universe kicked in and began to cooperate with her. She became even more motivated and effective with this additional energy. Huge accomplishments are the result of a long series of small steps.
Individually, these steps look and feel quite humble. But do not be fooled! The Mighty Baby Step is THE essential building block of personal transformation, growth, and change. It is enormously powerful and available to each of us, every day.
The most important step in any project is always the NEXT one. That's where your power is; that's why I named my first newsletter "Next Steps News." STAY PRESENT WITH THE TASK AT HAND. Honor the Mighty Baby Step in front of you and honor your intention to complete it. Resist the temptation to get overwhelmed by the bigger picture: just don't let yourself go there! During my cycling training, I tended at first to be overwhelmed by big hills. As I'd start uphill, I would look up and think, "Whoa, that's steep! And long!" Being daunted by the hill made my actual ascent more difficult than it had to be; I would struggle all the way up. I learned to stop looking at how steep and how long the hill was, to keep my attention glued to the present. "THIS pedal stroke is fine, I can totally do this. I have breath and stamina in reserve; no problem, really. I even have a couple more downshifts in reserve if I need them. . . . And now THIS pedal stroke is fine. . . ." And so forth. After a short while I was just pedaling up the hill, breathing into my level of exertion, noticing the wildflowers on my right, appreciating the breeze, wondering whether I'd overtake the rider ahead of me. Letting go of the fear helped me just DO the next step.
I also tended to get daunted by the big picture. I would think, "54-year-old slightly overweight non-athlete woman will ride a 2-day cycling endurance event. How likely is that?" When my mind went off in that direction, my job was to bring my attention back to the immediate challenge. On any given training day, I wasn't DOING the 2-day endurance event. I was doing TODAY's 30-mile ride or today's hill drill. Or watching TODAY's food intake. That's all. And today's challenges were always manageable.
The next step inevitably has its own challenges - you don't need to add negative emotion to it! That kind of emotion just creates more work. Clear the clutter from your head, and JUST DO THE TASK. Left, right, left, right. As much as you like to analyze . . . there comes a time to just do it, thank you, Nike. Once in motion, you are likely to generate positive emotion and energy which can inspire, fuel, and profoundly support your continued action. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING TOWARD? Is your goal better health? Every step you take in that direction makes a difference. Every time you forego salty fried food in favor of lean protein or lightly prepared veggies – every time – you move forward toward your goal. Every time you go for a brisk evening walk instead of sitting around, you are taking a Mighty Baby Step. These small moves are cumulative, and over time they land you closer to your goal than if you had not taken these steps at all.
1. Know what your goal is. Put it into your own words.
2. Know what the next step toward that goal is. Go as small and local as you need to! (For me, this was, "Do today's ride." Or closer-up: "Get up this hill." Or even closer: "Take this pedal stroke.")
3. Take that next step.
4. Go back to 2 if you can, or if you've forgotten what you're doing, go back to 1.
5. Support yourself along the way:
a) Keep yourself un-daunted.
b) Credit yourself for being in the game.
c) Know that every step counts. Remember the tortoise and the hare.
d) Honor where you are in the process, and don't judge it.
If you're considering hiring a coach to help you with challenges like these, contact me for an initial consultation at no charge.
Copyright 2003 Sharon Teitelbaum. All rights reserved
Sharon Teitelbaum may be contacted at http://www.stcoach.com Sharon Teitelbaum, www.stcoach.com, a Master Certified Work-Life and Career Coach, works with high achievers, people at mid-career, and professionals seeking greater career satisfaction and work-life balance. She coaches by phone and in person in Boston. Her newsletter, Strategies For Change, offers practical tips for work-life success. Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance is Sharon's most recent book. Sharon also also delivers keynotes & workshops on work-life issues. Clients include Children's Hospital Boston, Merrill Lynch, Arnold Worldwide, professional organizations and alumni groups. She's been featured in national publications including The New York Times, Forbes.com, and Working Mother Magazine. Married for 30 years, she is the mother of two amazing young women.