Why ‘Small Steps’ can often trump ‘Thinking Big’

feet walking - photo by scol22

What do you think about the following statement?

“If it’s not worth making a big splash with something, it’s not worth doing at all.”

If you tend to agree with that sentence, your potential for greater learning and productivity may be lacking more than it should be.

In our daily lives, we rarely enjoy undertaking assignments that may take a long time to complete.  If we can’t get it out of the way quickly, the only thing that arrives with speed is a sense of burden. And even if we used to enjoy something, there’s a tendency to grow bored or complacent.  Over time, what used to be interesting has become the norm.

In an age of instant gratification, no wonder many of us don’t like to spend a prolonged amount of time working toward a result.  Because of this, we regularly put false time limits on tasks that don’t need such restrictions. Other times, we don’t give any time limit, which leaves the task in the back of our head, gathering dust, or feeling unimportant after an initial enthusiasm.

It’s time to change all that.

You probably have ambitions in your life plan that never feel important enough to make today the day in which you drive toward achieving what you want.  It could be learning a new language, writing a book, boosting your vocabulary, beginning an exercise routine, improving your drawing technique, discovering your family tree, or simply writing the next essay on your course!

Go against everything you see and start making some SMALL STEPS. Er, I mean, small steps.

The path to discovery can begin at a micro level.  Rather than ‘take the plunge’, you can ‘dip your toe in’ and grow at a manageable pace.  I talk about the possibilities in my post Just 10 minutes a day can make all the difference.

This is especially useful for less important ambitions that you ‘never get around to’.  It can also prove helpful when a more urgent task can be handled in short bursts.  When you have to get the work done, it’s no good just leaving it to the last minute.

When you take ‘small steps’, think of it as a stealth technique.  It’s as if you’re not progressing much at all.  But after a while, if you stick with it, you can achieve impressive results.

My current set of ‘small steps’ is to take the ‘Oxford A-Z of English Usage‘ and work through 3 pages each day.  I can skip anything I already know about, so there should only be a few entries each day.  With 180 pages, it should take me 60 days to work through the entire book.  I aim to spend no more than 15 minutes of learning on this each day.

I am willing to make changes as I see fit.  So should you.  Changes are not excuses, they are ways of bringing out the best in you.

For example, if I find nothing worthwhile over 3 pages one day, I could make one of the following changes:

  • Go to the next 3 pages straight away and start working ahead of schedule;
  • Go to the next 3 pages straight away and give myself a day off when I feel like it (see, even a short task can benefit from a break);
  • Celebrate that I’ve finished that day quickly and use my 15 minutes on something deliciously decadent (hopefully I won’t spend that 15 minutes wondering how I can achieve such vice…);

During the course of the task, my enthusiasm may will me even further to consume more entries from the book, again allowing me to finish the task in less than 60 days.

Even the busiest of students have time to follow other dreams and work on something other than degree work and social amusement.  What ‘small steps’ will you be taking on the path of ‘big plans’?


  1. @damyantig, I’ve been taking baby steps for a great deal of things recently. Often, I immerse myself in a project, but time hasn’t allowed that recently.

    Not that I’m complaining. It’s great to be kept busy with all this positive work. Baby steps have been just as productive.

  2. I know, it helps to take things one small step at a time. I am going thru a season of new beginnings, and know exactly what you mean.

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