One Small Shift at a Time


People don’t change. Not nearly as often or as drastically as we like to think. Sure, you can name exceptions. But big, sweeping, life-altering changes are not an everyday occurrence. A wise and seasoned executive told me once that big changes shouldn’t be the goal. Instead, we should focus on making one small shift at a time. That’s where the magic happens.

Fighting the Overwhelm

Have you ever gotten to the end of a workshop and felt like you needed to implement everything you learned Right Now? Yeah, me, too. And it never works. When we maintain that mindset, we set ourselves up to fail.

Instead, carve out an hour. Sit down with the materials from the workshop – your notes, any slides or handouts – and reflect. Here are a couple of simple steps you can follow if you want some guidance.

  1. Make a list of the key nuggets. These aren’t necessarily the presenter’s outlined points. For me, often it seems the nuggets come from one line someone said as part of a discussion. I’ll scribble it down, sure I’ll remember it. But if I don’t make this effort to go back through my materials and find it, it’s lost to me.
  2. Rate them in order of importance to you. If there’s one that will help you immediately and help you the most, that’s number one. Rank them in a way that makes sense to you.
  3. Pick one. Yep, just one. You have the list, so don’t panic. You can go back to the list anytime you’re ready for the next one. But if you don’t pick one to get started on, you risk changing nothing.

Three Great Quotes

There are many great quotes about this approach. Here are three of my favorites. May you find inspiration from them as I have.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” –Lao Tzu

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.” –Mark Twain

Go get it. –Ellen Patnaude

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