Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

I always encourage taking baby steps. Goals can seem daunting otherwise, which can make you give up before you get started. Pursuing most dreams intimidated me back in my active DoorMat days. I’d want something, think about how hard it would be and move on.

I learned a lot about the POWER of taking baby steps when I climbed my first mountain.
I’ve always loved hiking but don’t get much opportunity to do it living in NYC. I had decent stamina but had never done an almost straight up steep climb. I was in a national park out west. My friend, who climbed regularly, told me I could do it. As I looked at the switchback trail that zigzagged across the steep mountain, I had my doubts. I’m used to hikes that go up and down, more like a rolling climb than straight up. Intimidation began to overwhelm me, along with what ifs—what if I disappointed my friend by stopping near the bottom?? What if I couldn’t get down because I was too tired??

But I wanted to climb that mountain very much and reminded myself of the importance of taking baby steps.

A mountain can’t be climbed without taking the first step. Then you can take the second one. Looking up seemed daunting, but each step took me closer. That day when I climbed my first mountain, going even halfway up seemed impossible. But each step led to another. Reaching each ridge motivated me to take more steps. I stopped looking up to the top and kept my eyes glued to the step in front of me. Looking up made it seem too far and too hard. Looking just ahead kept me focused.

Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Whether it’s climbing a mountain or achieving a goal, take the first step! Then another. Do small things differently or do one thing that’s necessary to get further. It may feel wobbly but you can learn to find your balance. I stretched a lot to keep my body in good shape for the climb. Take practice steps to give you the strength to keep going. When I was halfway up the mountain, I stood there, looking out at the panoramic view around me. That made me want to go higher and see more!

Taking baby steps motivates taking more!

When I consciously take each step to try something new or to overcome a fear I can still get scared. But, exhilaration takes over as I got small results. If one thing doesn’t work, I try again. Each step increases empowerment. Even stopping progress without backsliding is a power move. Sometimes when I’m controlling my eating and go to a party, I pig out. But, I get right back to healthy eating and feel revved if I don’t gain weight or I can quickly lose the pounds from overindulging. That’s success too!

When there are setbacks, how you handle them determines whether you progress or quit. When I got tired climbing, instead of giving up on getting to the top, I stopped and took a break. Then I’d look down and realize how high I’d climbed. That motivated to take more steps!

Fight excuses to postpone action and prompt yourself to continue to take baby steps.

Climbing that first mountain taught me how far baby steps could take me. When I succeed at one step, I feed on the satisfaction of progress. Like building something, you need a foundation. Baby steps create one for a happier self. I hold onto the experience of climbing that mountain in my heart. When something seems hard, I remind myself that if I could climb a mountain, I can achieve other things with baby steps.

Find your own mountain—any accomplishment that seemed too hard, or impossible, until you took the first steps.

Climbing a mountain can be real like it was for me, or an analogy for overcoming obstacles. Conquering a fear or limitation or belief that something can’t be done or someone saying that you can’t do something shows what you can do. Whatever it is, that’s the mountain you climbed. The good feelings can motivate you in the future. When I did my first firewalk, the leader had us write on an index card, “I walked on fire and learned I can do anything I choose.”

Successes show you how much you’re capable of. Think about something that represents your own mountain—a fear you overcame, a task that took time but you persevered to figure out, an adventure you never thought you could do but did, a limitation you conquered, something hard that you learned to do.

Write on an index card or paper, “I_________, I can do anything I choose!” Put it somewhere prominent. Mine is still on my bedroom mirror so I can see it every day.

Empower yourself by finding your own mountain experience that you used baby steps to conquer. Read that paper over and over when you get scared or want to back out. Hold onto the good feelings you had when you baby stepped to conquer your mountain. You really can do anything you CHOOSE. It begins with that first baby step.

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