Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How I Keep Baby Steps from becoming Stumbling Blocks

For most of my life, "take baby steps" has been a common mantra, a resolution for every problem.

Not as fit or active as I need to be? It's okay, I'll just take baby steps.
Not eating as healthy as I should? No worries, I'll try to eat healthier and take baby steps.
Is my spiritual life suffering? It's all right-I'm not perfect, so I'll just take baby steps and try to bring more prayer into my days.
Is my home/room messy to the point where I should declutter? I don't need to actually give away or toss things yet; I'll just take baby steps and work myself up to that point.

Giving myself the reassurance of "baby steps" has been a reminder to me that life is a process, a journey. Knowing that I can take "baby steps" keeps me from becoming discouraged if I don't automatically reach my desired state of being healthier, tidier, holier, and more fit. Taking "baby steps" can be important, and it's a practice that I encourage. Whether you want to eat healthier, become more fit, or grow in your relationship with the Blessed Mother, tiny steps can help you move slowly and steadily towards your goals. However, "baby steps" can easily become a stumbling block and, eventually, my downfall.





If I repeatedly tell myself to take "baby steps," then I'll actually start thinking that inching myself slowly is the only way to move. If I continually think "baby steps, baby steps, baby steps," then I'll become soft, and crumble at the first sign of adversity. If I'm putting the majority of my focus on "baby steps," then I'll lose sight of my ultimate goal, and I'll never push myself to reach it. I've found myself falling many times as these "baby steps" hold me back. So, I've been trying to find good techniques to keep this from happening-and I've found a couple of ways that have been helping me not stumble and fall just because my steps are small. 

1. Pick a goal and make a plan of how I will achieve it.

It is extremely easy for me to make lofty goals, start taking small, baby-sized steps, and...never get anywhere. I can say, "I'll take baby steps towards having a cleaner home," but without a set plan or goal, I can find myself in a very messy home months later, wondering where those "baby steps" took me. But, if I make a solid plan of how I will tackle certain chores, achieving the goal of a cleaner home is much simpler, and my "baby steps" actually get me there. The Couch to 5K exercise program does this really well: It allows me to take small steps in fitness, but follows a set format and plan so that I will be able to run a 5K after just a few months. 

2. Don't be afraid to push myself harder if necessary.

If I'm scared or hesitant at working towards a goal, it can be easier to motivate myself to move if I take tiny steps. But, if I get stuck in a very comfortable rut, I'm never going to get anywhere. There are times when I need to remind myself of what Patty mentions: You can do hard things. Growth is going to be uncomfortable and scary, but that's not bad-it's just part of life. Changing your life will inevitably involve some growing pains. Those baby-sized steps that I take don't necessarily have to be comfy; they can be difficult, and that's okay (Here's where it is good to have some support and accountability from others, like your spouse or a friend!). 


3. Trust God to help me accomplish what He needs me to do. 

God is all-powerful, and He is with us every step of the way! If I just think about the Incarnation, I'm overwhelmed by how incredible it is that Jesus went through so many experiences and emotions that I go through. Fatigue, sorrow, discomfort, and joy filled his life as He went about his ministry. I can unite myself to Him, rely on Him for strength, and know that He will always provide and help me get the job done, in both in small steps and large leaps. 

There is a time and place for "baby steps," but we can never let those small efforts keep us from reaching our ultimate goal. If you, like me, struggle with letting "baby steps" become roadblocks, I encourage you to begin anew. Whip out your calendar or journal and make a plan to achieve one of your goals. If there isn't a set path for our steps to take, then we may find ourselves shuffling in circles. 

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