The Next Small Step

It was just another Saturday morning.

I woke up feeling a little down, a feeling that had been familiar to me before.

Despite my mood and a total lack of energy, I had some work to do. I got myself ready, left the house and headed over to the local coffee shop. I hoped the change of scene would lift my mood and inspire me.

During the drive, I started to think about my life. I did a little status check:

I had my own business, and although it is growing, it was not quite where I wanted it to be.
My ideal relationship romantically was still a distant vision.
Even my living situation wasn’t ideal. It was ok, but not the dream home I’d hoped for.

This status check made me feel worse. The overwhelming feeling was that it was not where I thought it would be by now. What was wrong with me? 

It seemed like I had been pushing hard every day, yet was still somehow in the same spot. 

Ever since I could remember, my mind was always filled with big ideas. Goals and dreams that I wanted (needed?) to accomplish. While these were motivating at times, the fact was that they always felt so far away. Having big goals and dreams was somehow making me feel like a failure.

By the time I arrived at the coffee shop, I was a mess. Tears shed down my cheeks as I got out of the car. I forced myself to go inside, but within 30 minutes, the heavy feeling inside took over again.

The weird thing was, I was actually upset because I was comparing myself to a future version of myself. It was like the future ideal me was disappointed with the current me.

But I didn’t know else what to do. Wasn’t setting big goals and plans what all successful people did? I didn’t want to just give up on them, but the feeling of ‘not being there’ was almost overwhelming me.

After forcing myself to work for a few hours, I was packing up my laptop, getting ready to drive back home to spend the rest of the day laying on the couch.

Just before I closed my computer,  a dear friend called me and invited me over. He encouraged me and showed me a video link he thought I would appreciate. 

The video was about an entrepreneur named John Paul DeJoria. He was the co-founder of Paul Mitchell as well as Patron Tequila. In the interview, he talked about how at one stage of his life he found himself homeless. He was at rock bottom with no hope for the future. 

The only thing that kept him going was just taking the next small step. He said in his difficult position any big dream was too lofty and difficult, so he stuck to simply taking the next small step. This approach enabled him to slowly build his life back, and eventually create long-term success.

That idea stood out to me. For some reason, it felt right.

Instead of a big goal, or an ideal future self, what if I just focussed on the next small thing?

I decided to try this philosophy and only focus on the next small step. First, I started in my business. I looked at the next thing I needed to do, and I did it. Then I chose another small task and did that. By the end of the week, I had somehow accomplished more than I had in the previous two weeks.

The amazing thing was, I felt more motivated than I had in a long time. The next small step was the key to feeling empowered and focused for me.

All my life I thought I had to somehow leap to my destination. But in reality, all I really needed to do was just take the next small step. I was good at doing that because it was something I had control over.

Letting go of my huge vision and goals, just to focus on the small next step changed me. I didn’t feel the overwhelming stress of never getting there. I felt strong and in command.

The small next step philosophy changed my mindset, and it started to change my life.

If you feel a sense of overwhelm or disappointment, then maybe your huge goals and plans are to blame. What I have learned is that in reality, all you need to do is take the next small step.

- Maryam