Craving a Big Change? Start with One Small Step
Updated: Aug 26, 2022
After years of dressing like someone who meditates, and meditating for 10 minutes only 10 times after purchasing a meditation app, I’ve decided to get serious about it.
I’m chasing the Calm, Self-Compassion and Insight that can come from being quiet, open and mindful.
I’ve been meditating for one week, ONE MINUTE every evening in bed.
It feels great. I’ve begun looking forward to it.
And while your eyebrows may have shot up at my considering this blooming 1-minute habit something to boast about, hold your judgy horses.
When we want to start something new – a habit, a ritual, a fresh goal -- and we’ve been down the enthusiastic path of, “I’ll meditate 20 minutes every morning!” and further on to the head-lowered, “I’m such a meditation loser! I don’t deserve to wear these cool prayer beads," we know we have to GO ABOUT THIS A DIFFERENT WAY.
And here’s a proven one….
The Kaizen Way. Using small steps to accomplish large goals.
The Kaizen Way is encapsulated beautifully in an appropriately tiny book called, “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way.”
The concept has been tested over thousands of years, dating as far back as the Tao Te Ching, thought to be written in part by Lao Tzu in the 6th century BC.
Heard this one before? “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s not just an inspirational quote. It’s grounded in behavior change science.
When we have a habit important to us to begin,
When we’re stuck in overwhelm around a big change we want to make happen,
When it feels like there are mountains of obstacles standing in our way,
When our fears, self-judgments, or perceived limitations are tying us down,
We can take One. Small. Step. Forward.
And when I say small, I mean SMALL.
The idea is to begin with the smallest action we know without a doubt that we can and will do. Building a habit? Add the word DAILY to that.
When we take even a small action on a consistent basis in the direction of our goals or dreams, we tell our mind, body and soul that THIS IS HAPPENING and that it’s important.
Your mind begins to anticipate the time committed to this habit, ritual, or goal-directed process. Whether it’s 10 seconds or 10 minutes. Whether your action is in the physical plane, or you begin by envisioning yourself taking an action.
We all have our own starting places. And that’s where we begin.
Let’s say you want to feel more accomplished professionally this year and you know that for you to feel this way, you’re going to need to better establish yourself as a subject expert. You may have to start doing some speaking engagements inside your organization or out on the conference circuit and put yourself out there.
This scares you.
Your mind goes to, “What would I even talk about? How would I get on a speaker panel? What if my manager says NO? What if I fail…PUBLICLY!”
And this is what we do to ourselves, before we’ve taken our first step.
But what if your first step were to begin envisioning yourself as a subject matter expert? One minute every morning. For one timed minute, and not a second more, you steep in the feeling of it, the details, reaching your destination.
You can see your manager and peers coming over to your desk with questions. Requests for you to speak or do a Webinar coming in. 10,000 likes on your LinkedIn articles. You: offering your expertise as a contribution to your field.
ONLY ONE MINUTE. EVERY DAY.
Can you feel the power of it?
You do this for as long as it takes for the dream and its substance to really take hold.
Then add in your next small step. Is it sharing your goal out loud with a friend or spouse, and posting it in your home? Having coffee with a colleague who has accomplished what you’re after? Coming up with a list of 1-3 presentation ideas?
One at a time. Little by little. You move toward your goal. The movement is so close to imperceptible that your change-ometer doesn’t get triggered. You fly under the radar of “Change is hard for me,” “I don’t know how,” and “I don’t have time for this.”
But make no mistake. You are rocking this goal in a sure-fire way. Lao Tzu would be proud.
What is it that you’re craving right now? Are you already in hot pursuit? If not, what one small step can you take in the next 24 hours to get the car out of park?
Your goals and dreams are waiting, and they matter enough to take a step forward starting TODAY.
Write down a stuck goal or dream.
Consider: how would I FEEL if this came to pass? In the next year? Starting now? [Let yourself really imagine it and feel it in your body]
What is a simple, small action I can take in the next 24 hours that would put it into motion? [Write it down].