Do you know what baby steps are? No, I’m not talking about the steps your child takes when the first start walking. I wanted to talk about this topic because pre-COVID, life was different. The world seemed to abide by the hustle harder culture and I could never keep up. It never worked for me. When I tried, I would fail. . .over and over again. So I stopped trying and started living by my own rules.
Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare?
You probably heard this story when you were a kid. Aesop’s fable ring any bells? The story is about a friendship, if you could call it that. The tortoise is bullied and bashed by the hare and eventually gets fed up and challenged the hare to a race. The hare was arrogant, overly confident and knew he would win because he was so fast and the tortoise was so slow. In fact, the hare was so confident, he took a nap halfway through the race. To his demise, when he came to, the tortoise was right at the finish line. Ultimately the tortoise won the race. While Aesop probably wasn’t planning on telling us a story about baby steps, he did.
The hare represents the hustle harder mentality. One that’s about rushing from the start and working intensely from the word “go”. It can also be about being overly confident that you’ll win, you’ll get to the finish line first. Kind of like boasting. Sometimes when you practice this mentality, your nutrition suffers because you eat on the go when you can or not at all. Your sleep also suffers because you’re working long hours and wake up early to start the day. But is the hustle harder mentality really worth making a quick buck?
On the other hand, the tortoise is more like the slow and steady mentality. It’s about taking time on things, processing thoughts and feelings and giving grace when needed. When you’re going slow and steady, you’re not overly confident but you know deep in your soul that you’ll accomplish whatever you set your mind to. You take care ofyYour mind, body and spirit in the best way possible and there isn’t a worry about making money. When you’re in this mindset, you’re ok with being a little behind everyone else because it brings you balance and a more peaceful way of managing everything that’s on your plate.
So which is better?
Neither! The hustle harder and the slow and steady mindsets are personal and only something you can chose based on your own individual life choices. I encourage you to consider a baby step way of thinking. Project management is very similar. The project or goal is broken down into small steps. Hence, baby steps.
So what else do baby steps do for you?
Baby steps help you go at your own pace, one that works from you and may work for only you. It might as simple as accomplishing just one or two things a day. Or it might be just one thing a week. Remember, it’s not about how fast you get things accomplished. It’s about accomplishing things at a speed that works for you.
Ever realize you jumped into something too fast? Instead of taking your time, you listen to your peers or go with your gut and it ends up being the opposite of what you wanted or thought it would be. Baby steps give you time to work through those thoughts and decide if you should do a swan dive into the deep end or walk down the stairs into the shallow end of the pool.
Your seasons of life change. You can have super busy seasons and you can slow seasons. Think to this last year! COVID and the pandemic made some of us slow down and others pick up speed. How you should handle things also change based on those seasons. Use baby steps to your advantage and determine if taking action is right for you based on where you are in your life.
The best part about baby steps is that you get to do just one thing at a time. Your focus is heightened and you are thinking about one small piece. Those pieces compound over time and allow you to reach your goal. Although taking one step at a time is more lengthy in time and distance, you still reach your goal.
The next time you have a goal or project that you want to accomplish, consider implementing baby steps. See if reverse engineering your goal is right for you and if taking smaller actions make it easier for you to reach your goal. In the end, hitting your goal fast or slow doesn’t really matter because it’s all the same. You still reach your goal and accomplish what you set out to do.