When Starting Small Gets Big

January 19, 2016
If you know me, and have followed any of my monthly challenges (now called "tinychallenges"), you know I'm all about starting small. I start everything super small. It allows me to remove excuses I used to use like,

  • I don't have time
  • I can't afford it
  • I'm not good enough at X, y, z
  • I don't have the right tools
  • I have bigger priorities

Those were many of the leading excuse contenders. Once I identified them, I was able to chip away at them. There was a long time where I wasn't able to see that I was making excuses. They weren't excuses to me, they were real reasons and they were why I couldn't do many things I wanted to do. I believed that. I believed that people who told me otherwise simply didn't understand the realities of my life, my situation.

I started small. My first mistake was not starting small enough. At first I thought 30 minutes was small. Then 15-20 minutes. But even the attempt at 15 minutes of something kept unfolding more failures than successes. So I moved toward even smaller. I went tiny. 1-2 minutes a day here, no more than 5 minutes a day there. I proved to myself that when I want something badly enough, when I'm hungry enough to make it important, I hack my way through the excuses and I see them for what they are. 

I proved to myself that when I start small, I build endurance and desire to push myself more, to test my boundaries, see how much I can take before all my spinning plates come crashing to the floor and I have to start again. After lots of "tiny", I was able to experiment with bigger things. Sometimes bigger meant multiple tiny things in parallel, or bumping 2-minute max to become a 10-minute max. I learned that starting again is never really starting again. Even when everything crashes and you start over from what feels like zero, you have new experience under your belt, and your boundaries are expanded. Your objectives grow, your dedication to pursue your limits grows. You will miss the mark of expectation you hold for yourself sometimes. But if you keep going, you get better. Stronger. Braver. You begin to rule out concern for the expectation you think others hold you to and you keep moving. Trust YOUR heart, your path, your belief system. 

If you think you can't, you can. The key can be found in breaking things down smaller. Small adds up. Small becomes big. When you look back at your collections of small, but constant effort, you will be proud of what you've done. You will see your small become big. 

I set out to do 5 minutes of the personal project today, I did 65. \o/