Tuesday Toss-Up

Itty Bitty Baby Steps

In honor of the Life List Club Milestone Party, I’d like to share one of my favorite guest posts so far. This was originally posted at the blog of the fabulous Catie Rhodes.

Itty Bitty Baby Steps

Sail around the world. Climb Mt Everest. Lose 30 (or 40 or 50 or 100) lbs. Eat a 10lb burrito slathered in ghost pepper hot sauce. Write a novel.

All huge undertakings.

Okay…maybe writing a novel isn’t quite the same feat as the others…but it sure feels like it sometimes. Sometimes it feels bigger than that because we have to invent something that’s never existed before, our story.

Any big task or change can feel like trying to climb a mountain. We might stand at the base, look up at the vast distance between where we are and where we need to be, and just freak out.

But…maybe, just maybe, there’s a better way.

We could take that (apocalyptically) huge endeavor and break it down into smaller tasks. Then we could take those smaller tasks and break them down into even smaller tasks. Heck…we could go all the way to the subatomic level (but that’s where things start to get fuzzy).

I like to call this

(drum roll, please)

The Baby Steps Technique.


Okay, so that’s not such a revolutionary idea.

Still, it can put those seemingly out of reach goals right in the palms of our hands. All we have to do is commit to our plan, start small, and keep building.

Have to start exercising? Why not start with 5 minutes a day? Gotta cut a few hundred calories a day? Why not start with 25? Want to hold your breath for 5+ minutes? Why not start with 15-30 seconds? Need to write 3-4k words per day? Why not start with 50-100 (or even 5-10)?

And, once you get started, a funny thing happens…you just keep going. You hit your goal, then pass it up and pat yourself on the back. The next day, you come back for more. And on the days when you really, really, really, really don’t feel like it…you just tell yourself that all you have to do is 5 minutes, 50 words, or cut 25 calories. If that’s all you do, you’ve still hit your goal and you don’t have to beat yourself up for backsliding.

Robin Simonds Fitch, who commented on a recent ROW80 check in, whacked the mole right between the ears when she said, “I’ve found it’s a lot easier to make progress if I’m excited because I’m exceeding my goals than if I’m flogging myself for underperforming.”

Kinda sneaky. But effective.

That’s exactly what I’m doing now for my Life List Club and ROW80 writing goals. Ideally, I’d like to be writing 3000+ words per day (in addition to 3 blog posts a week). At the moment, that number seems like Mt Everest. I know I can get there, but I have to work up to it. So, I stared with a much smaller daily word count: 250 words (a mark I knew I could hit even on rough days).

Each time I passed 250 words in a writing session, I cheered for myself. And that motivated me to come back the next day, excited to write. The more excited I was to write, the more I wrote.

A delicious circle instead of a vicious one.

I’ve had some hard days still…days when I was sorely tempted to blow off the writing (get thee behind me, Resistance). But that unassuming little goal looked up at me with big brown eyes and I melted. Oh alright…it’s just 250 words after all.

This week, I’ve increased my word count goal to 500 words. Although I’ve been able to write more than that on a daily basis (not counting blog posts), I wanted to take it easy. Part of the trick of the Baby Steps Technique is the lure of the little goal. As I get comfortable with each level, I’ll bump it up to the next. Until I’m cruising along at 3000+ words a day.

No problem. 😉

How do you tackle something huge?Any tips or war stories to share? Any big projects looming?

Photo Credits (in order of appearance):
adapted (cropped) from Tantrum by demandaj at Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Yawn! by angelamaphone (Angela) at Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Baby steps by Cee-Bee at Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


There’s just 2 more days to enter my giveaway for the Life List Club Milestone party. Plus, there are lots more inspiring posts and fabulous giveaways from the rest of the Life List Club crew. Check it out!

ROW8O, the writing challenge that knows you have a life, is kicking off Round 4 October 3. It’s the perfect chance to set a few goals, maybe start with an itty bitty baby step, to get your writing on the right track. Plus, there’ll be lots of amazing folks there to cheer you on along the way. Go on and give a try. You know you want to.

6 thoughts on “Itty Bitty Baby Steps

  1. Thank you soooo much for this post. 🙂 I have been putting off my writing goals because I cannot reach 500-1000 words a day. Instead I say, “why bother?” and write nothing. This leaves me feeling full of sour feelings.
    I like your idea of “itty bitty baby steps”… I think baby steps will make goals much more tangible for me.
    You’re both awesome! Have a quacktastic day 😀

    1. I definitely know the “why bother” feeling. Doing just a little doesn’t seem like it moves you forward. But it adds up and it encourages you do do more. I need to start putting this back into my exercise goals too. 😀

  2. Great technique. I have heard of using a timer, dividing the day into ten minutes goals. Get to everything on your list, even if you don’t finish it until the day after the day.

    Problem: I love concentrated activity. My motor doesn’t start to rev until I’m in the third hour of the marathon.

    So with ten minutes on stuff I hate, maybe I’ll have more time to rev.

    Great post, Robin

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