baby-steps2

Today we ask that you take baby steps.

Take baby steps.

What does this mean?

Many modern people live in a constant state of “overwhelm.” There is too much to do, and nothing seems to get done. People are running around all over the place, exhausted, and yet they do not seem to get anywhere. 

There are many factors at play: never before in history have people been so distracted, their attention divided and broken. At the same time, never before in history have people demanded and expected so much of themselves.

Basically, modern humans have a habit of biting off far more than they can reasonably chew. And this is causing a great deal of life indigestion. 

So what is the remedy for this?

As with many seemingly complex problems, the answer here is not all that complicated: Simplify. Do less. Focus.

Yet while many people understand in theory that it would be good to simplify their lives and be more focused, somehow this does not happen. 

That is because your culture promotes the idea that being very busy and overwhelmed means you are doing something right. It is the mark of a virtuous, hard-working, successful person.

Beyond that, the modern lifestyle of electronic devices breeds distraction, building the sense that there is far more out there than one can possibly take in: more information, more entertainment, more emails and texts, more social media updates than one can possibly keep up with, and so on.

So this is what is going on.

Getting things done is, in truth, not all that difficult.

There is a task you wish to accomplish. You break it down into steps. You perform the steps. The task is done.

If you wish to mail a package, for example, you must pack it appropriately, then deliver it to a place from which it can be shipped.

All tasks break down this way, into small, bite-sized steps.

The problem arises when you want to mail the package, but also you are thinking about twenty other things you have to do today, and you check your phone twenty times, and you start other tasks, and so the day passes and the package is not mailed, and you feel like a bad person, but you justify to the judge in your head how very very very busy you are…

It is okay if you do not have time to mail the package today. Getting things done requires you to be realistic about your time and limitations. What does not help is thinking that you should be doing more than you can reasonably do. 

And herein lies the real problem. Culturally, modern people are conditioned to believe that they should be capable of doing a great deal more than they can reasonably do. If people did not believe this, they would actually do more.

Is this clear? It is because people believe they should be doing more than they can reasonably do, that less gets done.

Imagine shouting at a toddler who is just taking his first baby steps: “You should be walking already! You are too slow! What is wrong with you?! You will not be able to compete against the other toddlers if you don’t hurry up!”

This would be insane. What’s more, it would effectively paralyze the toddler, delaying if not outright preventing the process of learning to walk.

Yet this is exactly what most people are doing to themselves all the time.

Everything in life requires “baby steps.” Everything is a process. When people lose sight of this, and become fixated on achieving results as quickly as possible, a kind of madness sets in — and very little gets done.

You cannot bully a toddler into walking faster (although some parents, in their mad competitiveness, actually try this).

Likewise, you cannot bully yourself into doing more than you can reasonably do.

So maybe the cultural image of the “Busy, Overwhelmed, Overworked Person” is not healthy. Maybe instead of agreeing with the idea that a good, hard-working person in this age must be exhausted and overwhelmed, one should question this.

If you saw a parent yelling at a toddler to walk faster, you would probably think “That is not good.” You would question it.

So question the ways you yell at yourself, or others, for taking “baby steps.”

No baby can simply get up and walk with assurance. There is always a learning process involved.

Beyond this, how well do you think a toddler would learn to walk if he were in a state of constant distraction — say, if he were plugged into a toddler smartphone? Obviously, this would slow everything down.

If you are experiencing overwhelm, please find ways to step away from your electronic devices. Pay attention to how often you check them, and make a conscious effort to do this less.

Give yourself the time, space and freedom to take baby steps — without yelling at yourself that you ought to be going faster, and doing more.

Imagine the relief you would feel if you stopped believing that you should do more than you can do.

With all that relief, things might get accomplished magically.

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