A Research Paper By Donald Borg, Transformational Coach, AUSTRALIA
How to Use the Baby Steps to Your Advantage
For most of my adult life, I felt the urge to get things done yesterday. I was always regarded as someone who had a huge drive for results. Yet procrastination ruled my life. As a result, I’ve consistently experienced a feeling of overwhelm, guilt, stagnation, and at times failure. I can remember going even as far back as my college days the chaos the day before my papers were due.
And this was the story of my life … up to a point when I decided that something had to change. But I did not just decide. I became aware and understood what was happening to me and more importantly what I needed to address in order to remove the shackles that I’ve carried around and that ultimately held me back all along, which also made me unhappy and did not allow me to be in the moment.
I also now know that everyone has these moments. Some are worse than others. In my case, it was on extreme end of the scale. But I then was blessed with the opportunity to sign up to ICA to train to become a qualified coach. Through this journey, I learned an enormous amount about myself which makes me who I am today, far more self-aware and at peace with myself than who I was just a few months ago, as well as better equipped to support others to also achieve their dreams and get s**t done!
So, What Did I Learn About Myself?
Through the course of my ICA journey, I came across numerous books, and articles that have been written about the belief systems. I decided to partner up with a coach to help me unpack my deeply rooted beliefs that effectively influence how I think, how I speak, how act, as well as how I felt when it came to getting things done.
The first belief that I identified was the need to strive for perfection. Naturally, I was intrigued to find out why and where was this coming from. The coach however did a fantastic job at keeping me focussed on the way forward rather than getting stuck on the why or the past for that matter. Though, it didn’t take long to realize that the old saying at home from when I was little “Do it perfectly or do nothing at all” was what gave rise to this belief. And as a result, how this actually played out, therefore, was I needed to ensure that everything around me is perfect before I even attempt to start. I needed to feel that the desk is perfectly clean and organized before I get going with an assignment. Or that I wouldn’t start unless I have identified a perfect amount of time to do it. How bizarre! Was it an excuse? That’s what I thought at first before I understood that subconsciously I was prioritizing Perfectionism over more important aspects such as let’s just say progress. So I decided to prioritize Progress. Learning to focus on the small steps that I needed to take wasn’t easy, but as progress started to happen the more, I grew comfortable with the idea that nothing is really perfect, and that’s OK!
The next underlying belief I identified that was at play was the need for speed. So each time I wasn’t progressing as fast as I expected myself to be I simply grew annoyed and defeated. I learned that having a clear sense of direction was way more important than speed just like the biggest lightbulb moment. Though it took time for this to sink in. Of course, it did give that in my subconscious mind I associated Speed with Drive for Results. When in fact having a clear sense of direction was truly critical to getting the results that I was hoping for.
When all this became so clear I immediately knew what needed to be done. It’s as if my brain had just started running off a different operating system! An operating system with fewer software bugs! With the help of my coach I then transitioned to identifying and committing to a few key actions that have ultimately helped me form new habits and lasting change.
- I broke the big picture down into systematic, management baby steps or otherwise called bite-size pieces.
- I schedule these steps for the week ahead and revised progress daily. All under the banner of direction and progress, and
- I also document and celebrate the daily successes. Something that I never really thought of or given much importance to previously because what mattered before was simply speed.
In essence, over the course of time, I created new habits. And checking in with my coach to discuss the progress and learning kept a high level of accountability!
So Why Baby Steps?
It Gives You Clarity and Focuses
Success requires clarity and focus. And without the focus on where you want to go, you will feel lost and get overwhelmed with information overload. When you start with baby steps, you will know exactly what you need to do. And all you have to do is to follow the steps.
You don’t really worry or care about what is going to happen in the next 10 years, all you do is focus on the progress and do it now.
It Prevents Procrastination
Yes, baby steps help prevent procrastination. People procrastinate and delay getting their work done because they feel overwhelmed. They feel that the work is too big to handle and they have no idea where to start. But when we talk about baby steps, they are easy-to-do tasks that you can get done in minutes.
It builds your confidence and grows your momentum
One of the main reasons successful people are able to produce amazing results is that they have momentum and confidence.
And it all comes from taking one small step at a time. When you accomplish one small step, you create one small victory that will boost your self-confidence.
The more small wins you created, the more confident you become. Like what Tony Robbins said:
“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
It Lowers Your Resistance to Begin
The bigger the task, the more time and energy it is going to take. But when it comes to baby steps, it is easier to get done. And this actually lowers your resistance to the beginning and gets it done.
So the next time when you feel you don’t have the motivation to do the task, break it down further into even smaller pieces, and then just start.
Because It Is the First Step
Starting small is important because it is the first step. There is no way around it. You can’t jump steps. You can’t stand on the weighing and lose 10 pounds straight after your exercise session. It all started small and the results will accumulate.
Hence, stop buying into the idea that you can lose weight, earn big money, or build a successful business without hard work.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Various modules from the ICA Curriculum