I just got in from taking the dog out. Honestly, it seems like we play a lot of games with things like this. I try to do my fair share with the little things around the house, but to be honest, Laura always comes out to be the champ in that area. Over time, little things just don’t seem to be that important. We know they are necessary, but they just never feel urgent or compelling.
I love to think about things I haven’t done yet. But, I don’t just dream about writing a new blog, I like the think about writing a best-seller. Instead of looking forward to greeting my wife at the door, I dream about grand vacations and adventures. Instead of mowing the lawn, I dream about major additions to the house that I don’t have the money for. It’s almost cliche’ to say “focus on the little things.” Even when we want to focus on the little things, we worry that we won’t be doing the right things – How will all the pieces fit together? How will it turn out? Is it worth it?
I can’t promise to answer any of those questions. But, I can tell you from experience that worry and concern about big things often keeps us from the little things that get us to that final destination. Look at it this way, doing something is getting me closer to something and further away from where I am. Joseph Campbell said “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.” Some of us just need to take the next step, own it, and be looking for clues along the way.
It goes without saying that the guy in the Tea Shop was doing the little things. Without needing to, he braided a little rope on each of the teapots that kept the lid from getting misplaced. It was a little thing, but it was one of the things in the chain of events that led to my conclusions that this was a life changing event. The fact that I got up this morning and wrote (rewrote) this blog, is another small thing that may or may not be important, but it felt like a good thing that I could do…so I did it!
May I offer these suggestions?
1. Do one thing that you already know to do.
What is the last thing that we knew we should do and didn’t do it? We get caught up in the details or the 5-year plan or the strategic objectives and we don’t take a step because it paralyzes us to think about all the details at once. Or we take a step toward it and realize there is a possibility of rejection or it reminds us of a past failure. The idea of failing forward doesn’t get enough press. It is almost a requirement that we fail if we are going to succeed. We will never fail by standing still, but we also will never succeed. We don’t need to know all the answers, we just need to take a step.
2. Do one thing that scares you.
I like to refer to the quote “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” For years, it kept me comfortably in my cocoon of shyness and let me with a valid explanation of “At least I didn’t look stupid.” It wasn’t until I started leaning into the discomfort that I realized everything I dreamed about was on the other side of my fear. For some of us it might be confronting a person at work. For others, it might be speaking up when we’d rather be silent. Fear is natural, and it sometimes protects us, but we cannot afford to get stranded there. Daily, if not hourly, we should be stepping into our vulnerability and doing something that scares us.
3. Do one thing that brings you joy.
It seems that I often schedule myself so rigorously that I forget to have a little fun. “If I’m not moving forward, I’m rolling backward,” I tell myself. Someone asked me how I celebrate once and I told them “I don’t even think I know how!” We dream about vacations or getaways where we will finally be free to relax, but let’s be honest. Contrary to the pictures we post on Facebook, many of our retreats are over scheduled and wrought with the same challenges of our daily lives – we forget to do the simple things that bring us joy! Only we know what those things are – only we can break the habit of being an adult – only we can allow joy into our routine!
We all know this–we just forget. When we were kids, we didn’t overthink things–we just did them. Now that our prefrontal cortex is all developed and we’re all sophisticated, we forget that little things make a big difference. We figure we are running out of time and we need to make some big scores, but we forget we can really only do little things — we can’t really leap tall buildings in a single bound. But, we can climb the first set of stairs leading to the top. There is no instant success. There is no shortcut to the top. There are only little actions and simple thoughts that accumulate into things that are better!