Five Simple Strategies: #4 One Small Step

At the beginning of every new year, Americans put tremendous pressure on themselves to set resolutions.  One of the top resolutions is “I’m going to lose weight!”  And we start out in full blast mode, and we get going, and all of the sudden…we fizzle out.


I think it’s because we start “too big.”  The goal of “losing weight’ encompasses so much.  Not only is there exercise to consider, but there’s diet too.  And time management– how am I going to figure out how to get a workout in during the day?  And what gym am I going to join?  Is a gym even right for me?  What will I wear?  What will others think of me?

And if you’re anything like me, you probably start to overthink the answers to all of those questions, and that thinking becomes paralyzing, and you end up doing nothing–fizzling out– because you grow frustrated.

Guess what– you’re normal.

I also think we fizzle because we think too abstractly.  There’s nothing concrete about “I’m going to lose weight,” but there is something concrete about “I’m going to make sure I walk around the block every day, immediately after work.”

But maybe even that abstract goal is too much for someone who is just getting started out.  Let’s think smaller.

And you might snort at this suggestion…


Let’s say that in that resolution, you went out and bought a bunch of new gear to wear to the gym.  Maybe you bought a new pair of running shoes, and since you gave up on your New Year’s Resolution some months ago, those sneakers have been sitting in your closet, untouched, unused.

What if….just what if… you committed to getting those sneakers out every day this week and put them on your feet?

That’s it.

Just put on the shoes.  That’s all.  That’s it for this week.  mister-rogers-shoesYou choose the smallest part of the larger goal, and that’s where you begin.  You take one small step.

And then what if…just what if….next week, not only did you put on your sneakers, but you set a specific time of the day that you put on those shoes?  Let’s say you decide to go all Mr. Rogers, and you change into your sneakers as soon as you get home from work?  And that’s it for that week.  You put on your sneakers at a set time of the day.  That’s it for that week.

And what if…just what if… the following week, you put on your sneakers at the same time of the day, every day, AND you walk up and down your driveway, ten times?  And that’s it for that week.  Sneakers.  Same time.  Walk in the driveway.

And what if…just what if….the following week, you replace the driveway walk with a walk around the block?

And in the next week, you make it a couple of blocks?

And the next week, you add a light jog to your couple of blocks?

And so on…

Do you see what’s happening here?

You’re taking one small step, setting achievable, doable goals.

Not only that, by setting a specific time of day and committing to that every single day, you are creating a habit for yourself.  And as you know, habits– good and bad– are oftentimes hard to break.  Why not set yourself up for some good ones to help you conquer the bad ones?

Don’t ask yourself to reinvent the wheel.  It can’t be done.  Start small.  One manageable, achievable goal at a time.  One small step.


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