Are you waiting for a breakthrough to drive meaningful change in your life? To eat healthier. To take care of your body. To create a deeper relationship with your partner. Waiting to say, “I am sorry”? To have that important conversation with your child? To make a career move?
Most people spend time waiting for that perfect moment. For clarity to come down like rain and for fears to disband into flames. For that brand of boldness to grab us and that flash of brilliance to drive us.
If that’s you — you will most likely be waiting forever.
Breakthroughs rarely happen through spontaneous combustion. Breakthroughs happen through action, through practice, through failing – through doing. The value of the doing should not be measured by grand gestures and ambitious exhibitions. Transformation is the amalgamation of all of the small, seemingly insignificant steps that one day finally make sense. From the outside it looks like magic; from the inside, it’s nothing more than doing.
It’s the day you decide to drink water, instead of soda. It’s going for a walk, or stretching for 10 minutes, when you can’t make it to the gym. It’s expressing gratitude for your partner, instead of criticizing. It’s showing up when you can’t find the right words to apologize. It’s leaning into tough conversations with your kids, even if you are tired, or uncomfortable, or you think they aren’t listening. It’s making that final sales call at 6PM on a Friday.
The great Maya Angelou describes this concept beautifully, as it pertains to courage. She said, “One isn’t born with courage. One develops it. And you develop it by doing small, courageous things, in the same way that one wouldn’t set out to pick up 100 pound bag of rice. If that was one’s aim, the person would be advised to pick up a 5 pound bag, and then a 10 pound, and then a 20 pound, and so forth, until one builds up enough muscle to actually pick up 100 pounds. And that’s the same way with courage. You develop courage by doing courageous things, small things, but things that cost you some exertion – mental and, I suppose, spiritual exertion.”
Take a small step. Do it now. See what it feels like to drink a glass of water and stretch today. Then do it again tomorrow. And the day after. By the fourth day, you will want to drink more water, your body will be craving a stretch and you will want to push it further with an exercise you couldn’t imagine doing before you started stretching.
If you want a deeper connection with your partner, take the lead. Create. Send him or her a message right now. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Be specific. Remember that actions always speak louder than words. Do little things that will make them feel loved. If you don’t know how, ask. Listen. Practice.
Practice consistently. Anyone can do anything erratically, but it is consistency that leads to meaningful change and transformation. It is doing the small things habitually, so they become instinctive. That’s the magic.
In the end, your life is a collection of small, subtle inconspicuous actions. It’s a reflection of how you spend your hours, what you do with your days and reach for throughout the years.
Stop waiting for lightning to strike. Do something small today in service of what you want tomorrow. Do it again, and again. And then let the momentum carry you.