Do you ever just wake up in the morning and think “oh god, really – AGAIN?” Sometimes it can feel like you’re living in a Groundhog Day type scenario where the same issues are repeating and the same hopes and dreams remain unfulfilled. It’s tempting to hope for a big change. That one dramatic solution that is going to shift everything and get you what you want over night. I’m here to tell you that coaching… won’t do that. In fact, I don’t know many things that will. It’s always so tempting to look at other people and their success and assume that it has come easily or quickly or that they didn’t have to persevere through the hard stuff to get it. But the reality – as far as I can tell from my life so far – is that it’s the small steps that make all the difference. And that’s why coaching is so magic.
Small steps, big changes
You don’t have to look far for an affirmation that the little things are what make the big changes happen. This approach has defined a multitude of fitness programmes, academic outlooks and psychological therapies. You’ll find it mentioned in religion and mindfulness, mentoring and coaching – in fact anywhere that change is on the agenda anyone serious about achieving this knows that it’s the small steps that count. And yet, this is something that takes us a while to learn.
Achieving overnight success?
Hard work and incremental progress combined with giving yourself a break and practicing self compassion doesn’t exactly provide an exciting basis for a screen play or TV ad. Much of the entertainment that influences our social perceptions is created around the idea of overnight success. The number of people who buy lottery tickets indicates that this is something we still very much believe in. I grew up knowing the value of hard work – my family has an insane work ethic. So insane in fact that we’ve all made ourselves ill with it at some point because we were striving impatiently for big things and didn’t give ourselves a break at all until it was done. Sure, I achieved a lot in that mindset – but I was unhappy as hell, reliant on booze and I eventually burned out. A switch to the small things philosophy seemed like a total cop out at first and I was very resistant – “take a break and get an early night rather than pushing through are you kidding me? Lightweight.” Then I tried it and found that not only was I feeling better but I could actually achieve even more than when I was so stretched I was constantly on the edge.
The path to progress
Coaching works on the basis of this small things approach. I coach people to set an inspirational goal (inspirational to you not your friends or people on Instagram). From that we create a number of milestones and then, for each of those, action points to do between sessions. It’s a process that is intuitive and feels quite gentle. But every time at the end of the 6- 9 sessions the person I’ve been coaching looks back with wonder and a “wow look how far I’ve come.” Coaching is the definition of achieving progress via the small things. It can involve some deep diving into what might be holding you back but on the whole often-epic transformation being achieved doesn’t feel intimidating. It’s like you’re looking down at a bridge and taking one step at a time. Then you look back and realise you’ve crossed an entire canyon. I know I sound evangelical about this – I am, I think it really works.
Of course you don’t need to have the help of a coach to make progress via the small things if this is something you’d prefer to do alone. Instead you could:
- Identify where you’re trying to get to – what is it you really want, what’s holding you back, where does your life feel dormant or stuck?
- Break that down into a series of steps – each one should move you forward towards that overall goal.
- Identify the actions that will help you to progress through each of those steps – these need to be realistic, measurable and practical.
The benefit of doing all this with a coach is that you’re supported, guided and challenged to do more along the way. We are trained to ask the questions that will trigger a perspective shift and give you the confidence to break down old habits, to support you if things get emotional and to keep you on track and accountable. But, whether you do this coached or alone, the small things make the difference. And this isn’t just corporate speak for people trying to sell coaching it’s an approach that benefits life-wide and one that has worked for so many people. If you’re not already convinced here’s Vincent Van Gogh: “great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
If you’d like to take these small steps with me get in touch.