Sometimes when we are considering making a change at work or outside work we struggle. Some of the steps and tasks towards making the change seem so minor we skip them.
One more chocolate – what difference could one make to our healthy living objective? We’ve decided to focus at our team meetings and not email during them, we slip on the avenue of good intentions. Surely we say to ourselves – it’s just a little thing – email, I can do that and listen at the same time.
Many of the goals, resolutions, changes people make are impressive, lofty and ambitious. Not all the steps along the way to make those changes successful are equally impressive, big or ambitious.
The quality of our relationships changes one conversation at a time, one feeling not expressed angrily at a time. Financial success does involve taking care of small change. A business entrepreneur makes many small changes in the way she feels, thinks about, and acts on opportunities. While achieving a lofty ambition – becoming a successful entrepreneur – is more than the sum of the steps along the way – many of the changes along the way were small.
Here’s a tip to help us take those seemingly small steps.
Whatever your goal is – you are not there yet. You have been thinking about the goal and considering what steps to take to achieve it. Maybe you are talking to others, reading stories of other’s experiences in pursuing similar goals.
One of the things we can learn from the field of Appreciative Inquiry is to focus on the positive. Let’s take that idea a little further.
Set aside some time to recall when you achieved a goal, a time when you were successful. Mull over how that felt. Breathe life into that memory and relive how it felt, remember how wide your smile was, how you felt you could do anything?
Now – bring that vivid experience back to life in the future, when you have achieved the goal you have now set for yourself. How will it feel to be introduced on stage as a successful business entrepreneur? See how big your smile is; listen to your heart beat as the facilitator lists your achievements, how confident you sound when you talk. How does it feel to see the impact you are making on the lives of people who make your product, who buy your product?
As you imagine future success you are giving life to your hopes and inspiring a new way of looking at yourself. You create a new image of yourself as you see the value of taking many small steps to achieve your big goal.
I worked with a woman who dreamed of starting literacy programs for older women failed by our education system. Her dream was that she would hear a grandmother say that now she could read stories to her grandchildren – rather than make up stories as she pretended to read from the kids’ books. These grandmothers felt deep embarrassment when their grandchildren mastered reading and knew their grandmother had not – Coral’s dream was that the women she taught would no longer have to feel that way.
Imagining hearing that from grandmothers kept her going as she sought funds, space, desks, tutors – and you can imagine the list of naysayers. She used to say “I can only think well of myself if I can bring my expertise of how to teach adults to women who never got the chance they needed.”
A powerful thing is our imagination. Whenever you feel that a step towards achieving whatever goal you have is too small to take, ask yourself –
- Will I feel good about myself if I achieve my goal?
- Am I really too busy to do this?
- Why am I not taking this step?
- Is this really not me?
- Is this really the best thing I could be doing?
- Will I feel stronger and more confident if I take this step?
Small change? No change too small.
By Joe Moore – Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflict. You can contact Joe here