Small steps to big dreams

Focus on being great at what you do, rather than being bigger or best.

by Ada Porat — 

Many success coaches and motivational speakers tell you to think big. They tell you to create a big vision in order to succeed. And I agree — thinking big is necessary to accomplish big things.

At the same time, even big things are made up of multiple smaller components, and so I find myself coaching clients to think small, instead.

Whenever you are in a tight spot, it is important to focus on the goodness of life at the present moment. The past is over, and the future is not yet here. This is the perfect time to appreciate what you have now, instead of focusing on fear or on lack.

Being laid off from a job is a case in point. If you are recently out of work or have been for some time, it may be difficult to think about the perfect job or the ultimate contribution you want to make to the world. At this stage of the game, you may just want a paying job. This is the time to think small.

Perhaps you could spend more time with loved ones, help the children with homework, walk the dog or plant some flowers. You could teach yourself a new skill, take an adult education class or join a Meetup group. Being unemployed may feel like a permanent condition, but the fact is you are not going to be out of work forever. Take advantage of the time you have now.

Whenever a project feels huge, it is time to think small. If the size or complexity of it overwhelms you, focus instead on the itty-bitty steps. Locate the phone numbers of people you need to call, and schedule the time to make the calls. Outline the chapters of the book you want to write and commit to completing one chapter a month. Unclutter a drawer rather than thinking about uncluttering the whole house. Baby steps will get you there.

Even in business, it may be time to think small. When thinking big, you can complicate things with too many ideas and become overwhelmed. Here are five small steps to help move you forward:

1. Pick just one or two things to focus on each day. I find that most clients are trying to do too much in too little time. As a result, few things get completed. If you commit to one or two things daily, you will get more done and feel less stressed.

2. Revel in the little things. Go out and literally smell the roses. Slow down and appreciate your surroundings. Taste your food, instead of inhaling it. Have meaningful conversations, instead of passing interactions.

3. Scale down. Get rid of physical clutter, as well as mental clutter. Review your obligations and decide if they still serve you. Do you need to withdraw from some? Clear your mind by doing a brain dump: Put your ideas, things to do and tolerances (those things you are tolerating) down on paper. Prioritize what you will do and what you will not, and then tackle them one at a time.

4. Focus on being great at what you do, rather than being the biggest or best. If you shift your focus to being great, you will begin to do things from a place of excellence, instead of overwhelm.

5. Allow extra time for everything you do. If writing a letter will take 10 minutes, allow yourself 20 minutes. That way, you build buffer time into your day to cope with unexpected events. If you finish in less time — go lie on the grass and watch the clouds for a while.


Ada Porat is an energy kinesiologist and life coach who helps people live their best lives. 602-283-4628 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, feb/march 2012.

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