Approaching major change incrementally rather than with a BIG PLAN makes sense to me. Having invested time in contemplating and test driving ideas, I can then prepare to take my first action. If I make a detailed plan then I not only waste time making that plan; I can become entrenched in it and not see opportunities.
Incremental plans are stepping stones. I can cross the water, but not if I stand on land and try to plot my entire route. Once I assess the crossing and locate my first few steps, I can begin. I step, I see where I am, and I look for my next stones.
I’d love my course of change to be as easy to find as the stones in this pond, but it will probably be more challenging. The biggest challenge, though, is something that is in my control: my focus. I need to continue to keep my focus on my journey and on looking for stones.
I recently participated in a process where I set a goal and then worked on it for 40 days. A new audio coaching session was available each day and some had questions to make me think about my goal, while others had advice on choosing actions. Without that coaching, I would have given up in the middle which showed me that I seldom stay focused on anything for 40 days!
Even the most exciting new project will reach the drudgery stage where it will be difficult to remain focused. Finding tools to help you keep that focus is key: I use the big post-it notes (as shown in my questions).
We are also susceptible to losing focus when we make a mistake as if mistakes were fatal.
Anodea Judith’s thoughts on the way we practice yoga seem appropriate here: “most yoga classes move through poses far too quickly and do not allow the student to really find the pose“. She urges us to take longer to learn and to make sure we truly feel the pose. She also counsels us to find our centre and to hold the pose so our body can benefit.
This applies to life. We want instant results so we seldom stay focused on something long enough to reap the benefits. We don’t stay in the discomfort of the change long enough to find our new centre and choose our next step from there. We fear mistakes instead of accepting them as a way to learn. We want to seem as if we are in control to the detriment of taking actions and trying new things.
This perspective is why I approach change from assessing your base and then pivoting from there (which is the same as using stepping stones).
Commit to a constant cycle of scanning, plotting the next action, taking the action, assessing that action, and then choosing the next stone from that centred base.
Where’s your next stone?