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How small steps help you achieve your goals
How small steps help you achieve your goals

An all-or-nothing approach only hurts.

How small steps help you achieve your goals
How small steps help you achieve your goals

The intention to do everything perfectly and efficiently, and preferably also quickly, often lets us down. We are afraid that we will not be able to cope, and sometimes we decide not to do anything at all. Kendra Adachi, who calls herself a "lazy genius", completely disagrees with this approach. And, it seems, she has the right to do so: she hosts a popular podcast (6 million plays!) And wrote the bestseller "Lazy Genius Mom". And do not be confused by the name: the advice from the book is not only suitable for mothers.

With the permission of the publishing house "MYTH", Lifehacker publishes an excerpt from the second chapter, which describes the importance of small steps.

It can be about fitness, marriage, clothing choices, or any other issue, but our habitual reaction comes down to an alternative - either try harder or give up. All-in or pass. All or nothing.

We are waiting for the beginning of a completely different stage of life, so that the children grow up, the marriage improves, the houses become larger, and the bodies become more perfect. We do not invite friends to dinner, because everything in the house has not yet been brought to mind, we do not know how to cook at all, and we still cannot figure out how to put flowers in a vase so that it does not look like the work of a preschooler.

We cannot do everything, so we don’t do anything.

We're at an impasse.

Or we use arbitrary moments to reboot, like January 1st, to create a completely new system for our home, work and body, expecting immediate results and turning into the Hulk when we don't get them. We give up everything, then the next date comes, and we grab onto the next idea.

Also a dead end.

We think: “Well, probably nothing is working out yet, because I haven’t found the right system yet!”

But no. The right system won't work if you haven't already named what's important to you, and it won't even work if you don't recognize the value of small steps.

Small steps take you out of the stalemate.

Why small steps are important

Perhaps you think small steps are a waste of time. I once thought so too. I believed that small steps do not produce big results fast enough. They seemed meaningless and annoying to me, I thought: "Shouldn't I be organized enough for something more than such a trifle?"

An image that helped me to look at it from a different angle, I found in the public-reformer Jacob Riis Jacob August Riis (1849-1914) - photographer, one of the founders of documentary photography, who paid great attention to social problems. “When nothing seems to be working, I go and watch the stonecutter work on his stone, hitting it, perhaps a hundred times, without any result whatsoever. On the one hundred and first blow, the stone splits in two, and I know that it was not the last blow that led to this, but everything that came before it."

We unfairly underestimate what came before, but that's why small steps are important: they do invisible work, laying the foundation.

You've probably heard from the older generation maxims like "Patience and work will grind everything" or "If something is worth doing, it should be done well." It's like that. But this can lead to the conclusion that if we do not sweat at work, then there is no benefit from it. This includes exercise, washing, and fighting loneliness. If we don't try too hard to make something happen, we might as well give up until we can put in the right amount of effort.

Perhaps this is how true geniuses approach their goals and development, but the "lazy genius" starts small.

Small steps are easy. Simple steps are easy to repeat. Repetition of simple steps maintains movement.

Movement, not just the finish line, is the new goal.

Make sure the end justifies the means

Even if you're still a fan of the finish line, make sure it really matters to you. Are you familiar with any of these scenarios?

  • You think you should exercise more, but you do it to get thin because you think thin people are valued more.
  • You are a working mom and every evening with the last bit of strength you cook dinner at home, because you are sure: mothers who cook are more valuable than those who do not.
  • You become complex because you did not study at a university, and set yourself the goal of reading an unthinkable number of books, because you think: this will make you smarter and, therefore, more valuable.

I’m not saying that you need a therapy session every time you decide to change a part of your life, but if you’re putting in an effort in an area that feels like a hamster’s emotional wheel, it might be worth understanding why you’re doing this at all. do. If the motivation is based on the fact that you don't really care, you will either drive yourself to exhaustion by trying too hard, or just give up again.

Take small steps toward what's important and stop being stumped.

Small steps are important even when the end justifies the means

I'm excitable and inflexible (both mentally and physically), so it's obvious that yoga is good for my aching back and my brain, which works like a caffeine-powered protein. Ever since I turned thirty, I have worked hard for years to make yoga a regular part of my life. My finish line - awareness and a body that is not always tense and painful - is important to me. I just had to somehow achieve it.

I tried the “I'll do yoga for half an hour four days a week” approach, but I never did all four days. To find my way, I downloaded applications. I bought a rug and blocks, and a purple sports top. I set up checklists and reminders on my phone. I even bought. the legs are broken. This is insanely fun! subscription for ten sessions of "hot yoga".

Nothing worked. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t organize four half-hour yoga sessions a week, and it pissed me off. I wanted to learn yoga! And I had a good reason for this! Nobody forced me! Why was it so difficult?

Because it was too much of an undertaking.

Even if you are moving towards a goal that is truly important to you, small steps are still the best strategy because you will actually move. But if you instead take on an overly complex system, you will spend far more time maintaining it than gaining speed.

A meaningful life does not come at once - it is led by small, conscious decisions made day after day. They strive for her and take care of her. Shortest paths don't always work, and complex systems are far less efficient.

Small steps matter and are easier to keep taking.

When small steps seem silly

On January 1 of last year, I reflected on my goals in the same way that every energetic person does at the beginning of a new year. I understood that my approach to yoga should be different from what it was before. Since I wanted to do yoga regularly, I had to start with something just obscenely small.

What commitment have I made? One downward dog pose per day. Just one.

If you do not know anything about yoga, then "dog face down" is a pose in which your palms and feet (if possible) are pressed to the floor, and the butt is lifted up. You seem to represent the letter A with your body when playing charades. And, with the exception of the "corpse pose" (when you are like dead, just lie on the floor), this is perhaps the simplest pose in yoga.

Every day I did one downward-facing dog. I bent down, put my palms on the floor, lifted my ass up, held the pose for several deep breaths, and then

got up. The plan for the day is fulfilled.

Of course, I felt like a complete idiot doing this (ridiculously insignificant) exercise, but I was not going to retreat: suddenly this approach would be useful. The game

all-in did not lead to a win, maybe small bets will work?

For a while, the answer, at least in terms of results, was an unequivocal no. I did not automatically become more flexible, and I could not be called a person who learned Zen at all. However, my classes were too short to quit, so I didn’t quit.

And that was already a great victory.

I got up in a pose in the morning or before going to bed, if I forgot earlier, and sometimes I did it twice a day. From time to time I did the sun salutation complex (a sequence of twelve poses, which includes the downward facing dog) in its entirety, and still it took no more than fifteen seconds.

After about four months, I gradually ramped up this first small step and was now doing yoga for about thirty seconds a day.

I repeat: thirty seconds a day.

Of course, when I thought about it from the point of view of a genius, the whole idea seemed silly. What nonsense is it to hope that thirty seconds of yoga means something. Fortunately, more often than not, I thought about it from the much more encouraging point of view of the "lazy genius": I had developed a daily habit of doing yoga and, although this activity lasted no longer than the commercial break, I was very proud of myself.

I was moving towards what I had always strived for.

Small steps worked.

Are small steps even considered?

Popular food blogger Bree McCoy didn't have enough time during the day to sit with a book, but she still wanted to make reading a part of her daily life. Instead of looking for opportunities where there were none, she started small - with ten minutes of reading a day before cooking. Just ten minutes. Often it wasn't even enough to finish one chapter, but she knew it was a small, doable step that would lead her to her goal. She will not become a reader, but already a reader.

You may be thinking: if you don't aim at something big right away, then the attempt doesn't count. I can't say that I do yoga every day if I just get into one position, can I? No! I can say that, and you can also say that about any step you take.

The smaller the step, the higher the likelihood that you will actually take it, and the sooner you will continue to do it, making this little thing an important part of your daily routine. And this is what matters.

Yes, I do yoga. Yes, Bree is reading. Yes, you can also declare your goal, even if you are moving towards it in small steps.

By the way, if I walk around the house every day, can I call myself a marathon runner? No, because I have never competed in a marathon. This is why it is important to be a “lazy genius” and determine what matters to you.

If you dream of learning how to paint, but for you an artist is a person who owns a studio or makes money from selling his paintings, you have formulated a goal incorrectly and set a finish line. You don't have to be a professional, just be the person who paints.

If you act on the principle of "all or nothing", this "all" will remain unattainable. Once you believe that scale is all that matters, you will continue to hike your stakes and push the finish line.

Be a "lazy genius" and feel the power of small steps. They matter, they count, and this is the best way to get moving.

When the stone finally cracks

Fourteen months after I started doing yoga a little bit every day, I could only present this - doing yoga a little bit every day. I felt a little more flexible, and I liked the way my back cracked when I stretched my arms over my head in the morning, but I still couldn't do a headstand and didn't have pumped up legs. I still couldn't even put my feet flat on the floor when I got into the downward dog position. The letter A, which my body represented, has always been slightly crooked.

But one evening, doing yoga before bed, I started the sun salutation complex and realized that something had changed. My feet were pressed to the floor in a downward dog position. I could hold the bar low for five whole seconds without trembling. I was in the stream in which I want to be doing yoga. Breathing suddenly adjusted itself to the movements, I didn't even need to think about it. It was such a wonderful Saturday night!

I diligently repeated my incredibly small step for fourteen months. Fourteen months. In the past, if I didn’t see results after fourteen days, I usually gave up. The irony is that I made progress not only in completing the task (yoga every day), but also in the physical activity itself, and for this I did not need to do yoga for four hours a week. It took just one tiny step, day after day.

I'd rather take the same little step every day for fourteen months and experience what is important to me than pounce on something huge and be stumped.

If you want to be a genius at what is important to you and lazy at what is unimportant, you need to start appreciating the small steps.

Small steps are easy.

Simple steps are easy to repeat.

Small steps get you really moving, which is half the battle, given that the options you have left are either to try harder or give up.

The smaller the step, the higher the likelihood that you will take it, and the more often you will do what is important to you.

When you notice the results of one decision, you begin to notice the power of single decisions. One decision is sure to change your day, and as the stonecutter has learned from his experience, days filled with single decisions change your life.

Practical ways to start small

  • Do you want to take vitamins every day? Place a bottle of vitamins on the kitchen table every morning.
  • Want to cook dinner every night? Start doing this on Tuesdays.
  • Want to create a cleaning sequence? Wipe down your kitchen counter every night before bed.
  • Do you want to walk more often? Place your shoes next to the door as a reminder.
  • Do you want to have a thriving business? Connect with one prospect a day.
  • Do you want to feel better? Want to remember who you really are? Go out on the porch every day and breathe deeply for a minute.

To summarize

  • And too strong feelings about something, and a complete absence of experiences equally lead you to a dead end, and small steps will help you start moving.
  • The goal is movement, not the finish line.
  • Small steps are simple, simple steps are easy to repeat, repeating small steps really leads to something.
  • Small does not mean meaningless, all these single decisions add up to something big.

One small step in the right direction

Name one area in your life that is important to you, but often overlooked. Come up with an obscenely small step you can take to get ahead in this area, and then take it every day. It is not pointless because you keep moving. Small steps teach us to appreciate the power of single decisions, and our next principle is the simplest and most revolutionary single decision you can make.

How small steps help you achieve your goals
How small steps help you achieve your goals

"Lazy genius mom" is useful to everyone who is tired of endless anxiety and the eternal desire to do something useful. Adachi will tell you how to separate the important from the unimportant and establish life according to the principle of "lazy genius".