As a therapist I see many clients who want to make big changes in their lives.
It may be that they want to overcome lifelong anxiety, become more confident in social settings or instil order in a chaotic, overwhelming lifestyle. And they often feel helpless, as if their issues are insurmountable. They are disheartened at the thought of the huge task ahead.
And that’s because they are looking at the task as a whole, rather than as a series of small, do-able steps.
And as we say in the Solution Focused world: ‘Small steps can lead to big changes’.
In our work together I encourage the client to picture the first small step towards their goal. And I mean, small step. Typical answers might be:
- Open the living room curtains – the first step in decluttering hoarded items that have been a source of stress
- Wash their hair – the first step in feeling more confident when they leave the house
- Buy some bin bags so they can empty the shredder – the first step in getting on top of a mound of household paperwork
Taking action, no matter how small, makes them feel good. It provides motivation to do the next step, and the next. And before they know it, they’re well on the way to achieving their preferred future.
So, if there’s something you want to achieve that seems daunting and you don’t know where to start, here are a few top tips:
- Just start – anywhere, it doesn’t matter. Just make a start and that will give you the spark needed to build momentum
- Break the task into small, do-able steps. If the step is too big or complex, you’ll run out of steam before you complete it
- Focus on the next step only. If you keep thinking about the whole staircase, it will be overwhelming and demotivating
- Commit to spending a set time each day / week towards your goal. That might be half an hour a day, or half a day a week
- Congratulate yourself on each small achievement along the way Reward yourself in some way, maybe having a cuppa or listening to your favourite music
- Keep reminding yourself of how good you’re going to feel when the whole task is complete
- Track your progress, either draw a grid and colour in a square for each achievement, or create a Pie Chart. If you’re really techie, use a project tracking tool like Trello
And remember: Small steps can lead to big changes.