I learned something yesterday at work. I love when that happens, and it happens often. For the first time in my life I have a job that is interesting, fulfilling, and I believe is actually changing the world for the better.
I’ll go into that later… for now I will explain what I learned. It came from one tiny sentence that I was reading in a transcription of a video interview.
This interviewee was my friend and co-worker, and she was talking about her life before and after the parenting program we work for.
She began with a normal, happy family life, and then everything went sideways:
Her husband disappeared, leaving her to flounder with the family business and ultimately shut it down. Her boys dealt with their anxiety through meltdowns, anger, school refusal. There was no money.
But there was sadness. So much sadness.
If you’ve gone through trauma, you will understand that pit-in-your-stomach ball of dread and heaviness. Your brain partially shuts down and you zombie your way through whatever needs doing. You sort of know what needs doing. You rely on people to tell you what to do.
After being dropped by the assigned social workers because they couldn’t figure out how to help her (!), she did what we all do and Googled and Googled and Googled.
That led to the parenting program, and at that point she threw herself in fully. She committed with the focus of someone who is working her last option and is just about to give up hope.
And of course she emerged the other side stronger, happier, better.
I already knew her story. The part I didn’t know – which makes so much sense – which really is the key to anyone’s slow, steady transformation – is how easy it can be.
Not easy in that you can snap your fingers and poof you have a new life. Easy-simple. Easy-basic. She said that while she was going through the program, it seemed like not much was happening, but as she looked back a year and a half later, she realized that all the tiny, tiny, tiny baby shifts she made blobbed together to create the big change.
This may be obvious to you. This was obvious to me intellectually, as I’ve heard it a zillion times. The part that I hadn’t heard is what gave me the ah-ha moment.
She said she was trying all of these tiny tweaks as she went along, and it didn’t feel like she was doing anything.
The tiny tweaks were that tiny.
They don’t have to be tweaks you make that are only partly tiny but still hard to pull off. They can be so tiny that they feel like you are barely doing anything differently.
I LOVE ah-ha moments, because they usually come after you’ve heard the same thing over and over, but someone phrases it slightly differently. They may not even realize they’ve said anything spectacular at all, and suddenly your whole world is changed!
So basically my mind was hearing the advice all these years to break big things into tiny things to make them easier to tackle, but I wasn’t letting my imagination go far enough; small enough.
At this point my imagination is swirling with all the millions of things I’ve been wanting to do forever, but put off because they seem too complicated or far away.
And that’s fine. They can be far away, in fact some of them need to be far away, and I will try to train myself to stay with the discomfort of delayed gratification. I think by gamifying some of these goals to see just how far I can break them down will end up being much more fun for me and actually hold my interest instead of discouraging me before I even begin.
Does this make sense? What ideas did I just spark in your head that you want to break down into teeny tiny baby steps?