Our four year old son just got his first bicycle. When we brought it home, he said he wanted to learn to pop a wheelie. He'd never ridden a bike before so we explained that there are many steps between bringing a bike home and learning to pop a wheelie.
In that moment with my son, it seemed obvious to me that small steps matter. We needed to take small steps to buy the bike and helmet, bring it home and begin practicing the basics before he could contemplate anything more complicated.
It doesn't seem as obvious to me in my own life, though. I tell myself the lie that small steps that build a skill, habit or even a relationship don't matter.
I expect myself to master waking up earlier the first morning I attempt it. I should be able to easily implement a once a week laundry routine even though there are piles of dirty laundry in every bedroom. And that mom I see at the park with kids the same age as mine? Years from now, we'll just happen to become best friends without having to initiate awkward conversation, right?
When I disregard the small steps in my life, I skip the big steps, too. Then, I find myself stuck. I'm stuck sleeping in too late, surrounded by dirty laundry and friendless at the park. Small steps in the right direction build momentum toward end goals that really can bring about greater freedom and happiness in my life.
Let's re-visit waking up earlier and the small steps I need to take to make that happen. In the past, I'd go to bed at a random hour (usually too late). My alarm clock would go off and somehow I would turn it off "without ever hearing it" (please, tell me I'm not the only one!?). Then, I would wake up late to my children. I'd rush downstairs, pour myself a cup of coffee, drink one sip, set it down never to be seen again and eat a quick breakfast. This routine (or lack thereof) worked when our baby was up through out the night and we were in survival-mode. Months later, I knew we were past that stage and I needed to start waking up before my children again.
When I started to take small steps toward waking up before my children again, I realized I need to go to bed earlier if I want to wake up earlier. As a night owl, this does not come naturally to me but early morning me really appreciates it. I save my Magnolia Journal magazine (shout out to Joanna Gaines) to read for a few minutes to make going to bed early seem less horrible. Then, I set a couple of alarms. I recently set one alarm to my favorite song from back in the day and it makes waking up earlier more fun.
As I fall asleep, I am already looking forward to a cup of coffee in the morning. I convinced my husband to bring me coffee in bed in the morning which feels luxurious but also helps me get the day started. Setting the timer on the coffee maker the night before is another way to ensure deliciously warm coffee first thing in the morning.
Finally, I am ready to start the day by tackling the task at hand.
Taking those small steps has greatly improved my chances of building the habit of waking up earlier in the morning and I am living the fruit of that habit now. My day is more peaceful and I generally feel like less of a crazy person. More peace and less crazy; small steps got me there.
Are there small steps that you have told yourself aren't worthwhile that actually may bring you more peace and less crazy in your life? I'd love it if you commented below with a small step you are going to take today. Here's to more peace and less crazy.
Thanks for joining me on this journey of focusing on progress over perfection. The small steps are worth it!