A great journey starts with the small steps. A great change starts with some small changes. A big thing starts with the small things.
And if there were a chance to send a message to my younger self, I would send this. “Don’t wait for anything. Start doing the small things. Don’t wait for better weather, or better times, for better company or better opportunities. Start doing what you can do – now”. If you want to have a garden – start with a single pot. If you want to live one year in Paris – start learning French. If you want to learn a new dance – sign up for that salsa class now.
I believe there is a great potential of empowerment in doing small things and taking the small steps.
I come from the culture where people like to complain. It is like a national sport. They like to complain, but not to act. And I guess, that complaining brings helplessness and inability to see chances. While the life is all about grabbing chances. Not waiting for the great wave, but a talent to see a smaller wave coming and seize that opportunity. And, maybe, it is not a talent but a habit of being aware and acting when one can.
Long time ago I stopped believing in “starting a new life from Monday”. I don’t do great claims that I then fail to realize and I don’t support others doing it. I prefer to build a new pattern, practice a new habit and aim for the lifelong change. If I want to be fit, I start walking with the music in my headphones and aim at going to the gym once a week. Once a week! If this will stick, I would love to make it to 2-3 times. But from the start I don’t aim at this. Because I know that it is better to catch the small wave than to try to handle the big one.
Earlier I would grieve about my unlucky lot, complain and wish for something else. I would blame the harsh climate of Norway, the cold and closed nature of its people, the poor opportunities this society has for the immigrants. After so many years now I wish I didn’t loose so much time focusing on what I cannot change. But, maybe, that taught me a lesson. To be aware of how much time I really have. And to focus on what I can do – instead on what I cannot.
And now I have a hard time accepting the people’s arguments about why their life sucks. If it is not really a critical situation where nothing can be done, the most of situations are the matter of choice. And always a choice of attitude, if not of situation. So you cannot get a better home now – find a way to make this home better, cleaner, cozier. So you cannot enjoy this job right now – start searching for a new one, send you CVs, learn something new or see where you can be better and move at the current workplace. So you cannot loose that much weight right now – but can you change some of your eating habits, and maybe you would loose a kilo?
And this is mostly not an advice for other people. This is what I say to myself. If I don’t like something – what can I do now about it? Which small thing can I find that can be done right now? That, maybe, will not change the whole order of things. But I know this one thing for sure: doing something small that changes my situation, gives me so much motivation and energy – than dreaming about something bigger.
So here is a simple recipe for living a more content life. Find something small you can start doing now, catch the energy it gives you and move it into something else. Start shaping your life. Take the small steps and feel the happiness along the way. They say, there is more happiness in going than in reaching the goal. I can confirm that moving is more fun than sitting in that perfect place (which only exists in your imagination anyway).
So sometimes when I don’t know what to do, I start cleaning up. Making order around me gives me a positive feedback. Gives me a good feeling hat I can change some small thing. And then I can move to another one. I used to call myself a dreamer. Now I would not take that away. I just want to add a stronger “doer” to that dreamer.
I still dream of having a garden, even though I see myself as totally incapable of it :)) So I buy the plants in the pots. And I want to make my wardrobe more functional, so I make wardrobe dates (when a girl meets her wardrobe and falls in love, hehe). And I make the lists of small things that can be done during that screen-free time in the evening. I like lists but I don’t want to be too neurotic about them. It’s better to do something off the list, then stress about those lists.
Do you have any small things that help you along the way?