Baby Steps

I recently completed a project that was well over a year in development: my first online course! As I move now from the development phase to the launch phase, I’m pausing to acknowledge and celebrate having reached a huge milestone.

And I have to tell you, there is great joy in the pause – joy that I would have missed, had I just plowed through to the next action item.

I can distinctly recall how I felt the day I sent an email to my “inner circle” of clients, colleagues and friends during the pre-launch phase, offering the course to them at a discount as an expression of appreciation for their support of my work. I paused before clicking “Send,” and gave myself the gift of feeling my appreciation for these amazing people in my life, and feeling appreciation for every step I had taken that got me to the point of being able to offer a course I feel really, really good about.

It was a moment of deep emotion and I was overwhelmed by it in the best of ways. I realized that the feeling itself – of appreciation and connection and joy in creative accomplishment – was the essence of what I’d hoped to experience in creating the course. It was a “wow” moment, and I was so grateful that I had paused to let it in.

As I’ve moved through the prelaunch phase into the “official” launch phase, I’ve made a point of slowing down to feel how good it feels to be in this process, and to acknowledge all I’ve learned – or perhaps more accurately, relearned – and all the ways I’ve grown. Here are a few nuggets of insight I want to share with you now:

Baby steps really do get it done. Really. I know you’ve heard this before, probably dozens of times. (And who can forget Bill Murray’s “baby steps” genius in the movie, What About Bob?) But I’m talking BABY steps…more on that in just a bit.

Baby steps taken with great love transform “getting it done” into “getting it done and enjoying it along the way.” This simply cannot be overstated. Sure, we can be super-disciplinarians – or rigid taskmasters – and force our way through a long-term project, but what fun is that? If we’re delaying our enjoyment – our joy – until we reach a specific goal, we’re missing out on the life we’re living, moment to moment to moment. More on that in just a bit, too.

Missing a targeted completion date provides the perfect opportunity to deepen our capacity for self-love. I had planned to launch my course in the fall of 2013. I missed that target by six months. I had the choice to beat myself up about the delay, or to appreciate myself for all the other things I accomplished during that time – and to learn how to keep moving even when it seemed I’d never “get there.”

On the other hand, HAVING a targeted completion date provides some really valuable creative tension. The self-imposed time pressure taught me how to access my inner focus even when I didn’t really feel like it. And even more than that, it reinforced the importance of prioritizing my own creative efforts over the countless demands on my attention that would have diluted them.

And now for the “more in just a bit.” Baby steps taken with great love help us resolve the seeming paradox between “accomplishment” and “being in the moment” – between “doing” and “being.” Like me, you may have grappled with how to love the life you’re living – being in the moment and accepting it for what it is – while, at the same time, actively making changes to create a life that lights you up. Baby steps taken with great love foster both of those experiences, at the same time.

Baby steps keep us moving in the direction we want to go, at a pace we can accommodate. As we focus on completing each step, we subtly yet profoundly create a sense of self that is in motion and accomplishing things. (We do, however, need to actually pause and acknowledge each step to get that sense of accomplishment.) The smaller the step, the easier it is to take it without resistance. And of course the more steps we take, the more momentum we create and the easier it becomes to take more of them.

As a side note to the “baby step” approach, I also learned that the less specific I was about which step to take next, the better things flowed. Rather than filling my to-do list with the numerous detailed tasks that are involved in a multi-dimensional project, I would write “make progress on online course” on each week’s list of things to do. Doing that helped me keep the course front and center in my mind, yet it afforded me the flexibility of choosing what to do that week based on my genuine willingness and energy to do it.

And guess what? It all got done. In just the right sequence for me.

Which brings me to the “with great love” piece. At a fundamental level, love and acceptance are one and the same. When we love ourselves, we are accepting ourselves as we are right now – our desires, our natural rhythm, our unique point of view, our quirks and talents, our fears and resistance. And yes, even our tendency to procrastinate on long-term projects.

As we accept all of these aspects without judgment, we free up tremendous energy that was previously tied up in trying to ignore, defend, justify or wallow in all of our seeming deficiencies. When we stop seeing ourselves as deficient, and instead see ourselves as learning and growing and evolving, we treat ourselves with the respect and care that we deserve to support that growth.

And when we treat ourselves with respect and care, our moment-to-moment experience feels good. We don’t have to wait until we’ve reached a certain milestone to feel good about ourselves. We begin to grasp that feeling good about ourselves is what keeps us in the flow of life and carries us forward to each milestone.

So whatever you may be in the midst of creating in your life right now, pause to acknowledge how far you’ve come and how much you’ve already grown. Decide right now to love yourself through all of it, to take one baby step at a time and to celebrate every step you take.

Baby steps taken with great love get it done.

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