Small steps: should we be celebrating them?

This week I wanted to share my thoughts on celebrating the small steps that take place within the bigger picture. and why I think it’s really important to do so. I’ve already given my two cents on whether it is ok to be proud of ourselves. This post has some similarities, I wanted to share a slightly different message.

Noticing changes…

Earlier this year, and in some ways more recently, I’ve been able to see some really big changes within myself. These changes include my behaviour and my thoughts. But also the way I relate to certain situations in my past and how I look after myself.

Whilst it’s great to have these moments of realisation and to have real clarity about the leaps that we are taking as individuals – this isn’t always possible.

For a number of years now, I feel like I have been chipping away (very very slowly) at something very personal. At times it was unbearable and at times I just didn’t want to be in the place I was. But now, I’m looking back, as I’m celebrating the massive strides I have made. I can really clearly see occasions where I could have given myself credit. Where I could have celebrated the smaller steps I was taking.

Stepping back

When we are faced with a big task, I am all for breaking it down into lots of smaller chunks. So why don’t we do the same with our achievements as we do with our to do’s?

Stepping back and taking time to recognise our small steps in the right direction can give us the fuel we need to carry on. It can help us persist with whatever it is we are dealing with or working towards. Sometimes, we might not even know what we’re aiming for or what our future looks like. We just know that we’d like it to be different. In these instances it’s even more important to celebrate our small wins. When we don’t really have an idea of what the ‘big win’ is.

Feeling proud of our persistance

Sometimes we don’t have a realistic idea of how close we are to our goals. Whether that be completing a PhD, recovering from a mental illness or developing healthy relationships. Lack of motivation can kick in and we can feel disheartened.

Why should we persist when it’s damn hard and we don’t even know why exactly we are doing it?

Recognising, appreciating and encouraging ourselves for our small steps can really help with motivation. It can help us feel proud of what we are doing, our persistence, tenacity and commitment. We might think our goal is at the very top of the mountain, but a few small steps might help us see that we’re actually looking for base camp.

Small steps leading to big wins

I’ve had many experiences of being in a situation and focussing solidly on the end point, the goal. Which seems daunting, and impossible.

And the truth is, often I am not in a place to be doing things that are close to that goal. I needed to take those initial first steps, and take each step one at a time. Before I knew it, I’m looking back and I can see that I have progressed. And that actually, I’ve been living in the goal state I had in mind for a little while.

That’s when it’s great to celebrate the big wins. Knowing that you committed to, and took, every single little step, no matter how hard they were.

What could some of these small steps be and how could they lead to those bigger wins? Some personal examples.

They could be telling someone ‘I don’t feel too great today actually’ instead of ‘yeh I’m good, how are you?’ when asked how you are (the step).

Which might lead to you having no problems reaching out to a friend or professional for support if you are struggling. When normally you would suffer in silence and not feel worthy of support (the leap).

It might be saying no to a meeting because it clashes with your counselling appointment (the step). Leading to you saying no to things that just don’t feel good or right for you, without needing to explain yourself (the leap).

It might be having a massage when you are nervous about touch (the step). Which may lead to you being more open to physical touch and intimacy in your relationships (the leap).

It might be telling a friend you aren’t in a good position to support them right now (the step). Leading you to assert boundaries in a way that takes really good care of yourself (the leap).

Little steps don’t always feel little…

Sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves that our ‘little steps’ actually felt like HUGE steps at the time. And as we become more adept we can forget this.

We can forget how far we’ve come. It’s like training for a sporting event. Getting out and doing 5 miles of cycling might be hard at first. But before you know it you’re doing 40 miles. You’ve forgotten just how hard the initial 5 miles were.

Which is it can be rewarding to take time to step back and reflect on those smaller steps. What they meant to you and where they led you. How much courage they might have taken.

So I encourage you to think back to something you have grappled with. See where you have made the big leaps, but be sure to count and celebrate the steps within those leaps too.

Think about instances where what you have done might have been ‘one small step for man (you at the time). One giant leap for mankind (the bigger picture)’

Until next time 🙂

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