A common complaint that I hear, and especially with people who are just starting out in self-development, is just feeling stuck, feeling like you want to make changes but simply don’t know where to begin.
Just looking at the possibilities for how to make changes and accomplish great things, it just seems like a giant mountain right in your face, and it’s often hard to know how to begin.
Since, of course, at this beginning stage, we’re at our weakest, and yet we look at the whole big project as this giant mission, this giant obstacle in front of us, and it’s very easy for it to simply appear impossible.
Just like water flowing down, just bending away from that mountain, and just going to all the easy time-wasting things.
So really the standard advice for this situation is to simply start with anything.
Do the smallest things, the easiest things.
Start with the low-hanging fruit.
Start with things that are so small, it’s really laughable from the perspective of this whole big mission of personal change and doing great things in life.
You can really start with the tiniest things.
I mean, you can literally do things like sharpen your pencils.
Sit down and sharpen all your pencils.
OK, that is really just laughably small.
But it’s at least pointing in the right direction.
It is using your time towards doing something that somehow connects to “OK, well, maybe I might write some notes with these pencils, and that might lead to something else.” So even though it’s laughably small, it could be that laughably small first step in a good direction.
Maybe a more updated example, it would be open your document.
If you’re gonna write something, open a document.
You’re completely blocked from writing anything, but you can open the document and have it ready to go.
You can get out a piece of paper and just write random thoughts out.
No order, no vision, no coherence, but simply starting to get something rolling.
A classic one is exercise.
“I am going to run a marathon.
Lift heavy weights.
I’m going to do this whole Olympian program.” Then it comes to the moment to start, and “Oh, it’s so much.
I would just really rather sit down on a couch right now, and this feels like this couch is gluing me down into it.” Well, when it comes to physical activity, the most basic thing is going for a walk.
Simply go for a walk around the block.
Can’t get much simpler than that.
And as an exercise program, it is laughable.
It’s laughably small.
And yet it is such a potentially big thing.
In fact, even smaller than that: you could just stand up from the couch and stretch.
Even something as simple as that.
Just stretching out your arms and reaching for the sky as a 10-second activity.
These are the kind of things that if you describe it as this whole program, it just seems like it’s not even worth considering.
You want to improve your diet, but you love eating junk food: just try eating an apple.
Try eating one apple, and the rest of your day, go back to eating junk food.
As a diet, “The One Apple + Junk Food Diet”: not a great diet, not something that would be given much consideration as a whole program to follow.
And yet, just by taking that one step, it’s amazing how effective the smallest steps can be at just getting that very beginning, that very first move.
A project like looking for a job or developing career: that can certainly seem like a huge obstacle.
Tiny start: maybe just looking at some job descriptions, just reading about it, spending a few minutes reading about the whole world of jobs and careers, reading about your field for a few minutes.
And then going back the rest of your day to wasting time, if that’s what you choose to do.
You want to start meditating: the thought of being a cross-legged yogi and sitting for an hour at dawn is just over the top? Close your eyes.
Take three deep breaths.
So imagine this comically small self-development program.
I wake up, anytime I feel like.
There’s no dawn here.
Just whenever I wake up.
I close my eyes and take three deep breaths.
Then I go for a walk around the block.
Then I eat an apple, and spend a few minutes reading about something in my field, something related somehow to career or purpose in life or anything like that.
Just read about that for a few minutes.
Program done for the day.
I spend the rest of the day in complete time-wasting.
So as a program of meditation, diet, exercise, career development, this is a joke.
But it is so far beyond not doing those things at all.
It’s amazing how just those very beginnings make such a big step.
So, if you feel stuck and unable to start some massive self-development program, my suggestion is think about a laughably small thing that you can do and then do it.
#tinysteps #tinychanges #startthechange