All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
We’re often told that in order to achieve, we need a good dose of motivation, self-discipline, perhaps even self-sacrifice. But that’s not necessarily how life pans out. Some days we feel anything but motivated, self-discipline goes out the window and frankly, why should we have to sacrifice anything?
These feelings are entirely normal and entirely permissible. So if motivation and discipline aren’t to be relied on, then what’s the strategy?
Well this is why the quote above is so powerful. Because it feels real, tangible and achievable. It doesn’t rely on daily fluctuations or emotions.
It relies on living our lives in an intentional way, putting one foot in front of the other, step by step, so that great things happen. Over time, slow and steady. It’s the polar opposite to ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Something like ‘happiness by a thousand small steps’. Not quite right, but you get my point.
Implementing routines and small habits into our day to day is the foundation to feeling a sense of achievement.
Sticking to those habits, with intention, helps bed them in.
Celebrating each and every small step embeds those habits even further and boosts our self-belief, knowing that if we’re intentional and consistent, we can succeed.
Ultimately those habits become second nature. Like brushing your teeth or having three cups of tea before 10am (me).
For me, my goal was to have a successful podcast but when I started in November 2020 that seemed unattainable. So I broke it down and chose one habit to form. And that was releasing a new episode every two weeks, without fail. Which I have done, every two weeks for the past 18 months. I celebrated every download and every comment, however small the number. And today, 45 episodes in, my podcast, The Parent Equation, is still going strong.
So next time something feels like a mountain to climb, or you have a goal or vision you’re aspiring to, break it down into small steps and decide on the first habit that needs to be formed in order to get you there.
Ayesha Murray is an EMCC accredited career and work life balance coach supporting working parents to create unshakeable self-belief in order to thrive in their careers and at home.