How small steps help you reach your goals

The intention to do everything perfectly and efficiently, and preferably also quickly, often fails us. We’re afraid we won’t make it, and sometimes we decide not to do anything at all. Kendra Adachi, who calls herself a “lazy genius,” strongly disagrees with this approach. And, it seems, she has the right to do so: she hosts a popular podcast (6 million plays!) and wrote the best-selling book Lazy Genius Mom. And don’t let the title fool you: the book’s advice isn’t just for mothers.

With the permission of the MIF publishing house, Lifehacker publishes an excerpt from the second chapter, which talks about the importance of small steps.

Whether it’s about fitness, marriage , clothing choices, or any other issue, our usual response is to try harder or give up. All-In or Pass. All or nothing.

We are waiting for the beginning of a completely different stage of life, so that the children grow up, marriages improve, houses become larger, and bodies become more perfect. We don’t invite friends to dinner, because the house hasn’t been finished yet, we do n’t know how to cook at all, and we still can’t figure out how to put flowers in a vase so that it doesn’t look like the work of a preschooler.

We can’t do everything, so we don’t do anything.

We are at an impasse.

Or we use random reboot moments like January 1st to create a whole new system for our home, work and body, expecting immediate results and turning into the Hulk when we don’t get them. We drop everything, then the next date comes, and we grab onto another idea.

Also a dead end.

We think, “Well, it’s probably not working yet, because I haven’t found the right system yet!”

And here it is not. The right system won’t work if you haven’t already identified what’s important to you, and it won’t even start working if you don’t recognize the value of small steps.

Small steps take you out of the dead end .

Why small steps matter

You may think that small steps are a waste of time. I used to think so too. I believed that small steps don’t produce big results fast enough. They seemed meaningless and annoying to me, I thought: “Shouldn’t I have enough organization for something more than such a trifle?”

I found an image that helped me to look at it from a different angle from the social reformer Jakob Riis : “When nothing seems to help, I go and watch the stonecutter working on his stone, hitting it maybe a hundred times without any result. On the one hundred and first blow, the stone splits in two, and I know that it was not the last blow that led to this, but everything that came before it.

We unfairly underestimate what came before, but that’s why small steps are important: they do the invisible work of laying the groundwork.

Surely you have heard from the older generation of maxims like “Patience and work will grind everything” or “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” It’s like that. But this can lead to the conclusion that if we do not sweat in the work, then there is no benefit from it. This applies to exercise, laundry, and dealing with loneliness . If we don’t try too hard to make something happen, we might as well give up until we have the opportunity to put in the right amount of effort.

Perhaps this is how true geniuses approach their goals and development, but the “lazy genius” starts small.

Small steps are easy. Simple steps are easy to follow. The repetition of simple steps keeps the movement going.

Movement, not just the finish line, is the new goal.

Make sure the end justifies the means

Even if you’re still a fan of the finish line, make sure it’s really important to you. Are you familiar with any of these scenarios?

  • You think you should exercise more, but you do it to get thinner because you think thin people are more appreciated.
  • You are a working mother and every evening you cook dinner at home with the last of your strength, because you are sure that mothers who cook are more valuable than those who do not.
  • You have a complex about not going to college and set yourself the goal of reading an unthinkable number of books because you think it will make you smarter and therefore more valuable.

I’m not saying you need a session of therapy every time you decide to change some part of your life, but if you’re making an effort in an area that feels like an emotional hamster wheel, it might be worth understanding why you do it at all. do. If your motivation is based on something you don’t really care about, you’ll either exhaust yourself by trying too hard, or you’ll just give up again.

Take small steps towards what matters and stop getting stuck.

Small steps are important even when the end justifies the means

I’m an excitable and inflexible (both mentally and physically) person, so obviously yoga is good for my aching back and caffeine-fueled brain. Since I was in my thirties, I have been working hard for years to make yoga a regular part of my life. My finish line – awareness and a body that isn’t always tense and sore – is important to me. I just had to somehow achieve it.

I tried the “I will do yoga for half an hour four days a week” approach, but I never did all four days. To find my way, I downloaded apps. I bought a mat and blocks, as well as a purple sports top. I set up checklists and reminders on my phone. I even bought a subscription for ten “hot yoga” classes.

Nothing worked. I couldn’t get four half-hour yoga sessions a week, no matter how hard I tried, and it pissed me off. I wanted to learn yoga! And I had a good reason for this! Nobody forced me! Why was it so difficult?

Because it was too big an undertaking.

Even if you are moving towards a goal that is truly important to you, small steps are still the best strategy, because you will actually move. But if instead you take on an overly complex system, you’ll spend far more time maintaining it than accelerating.

Life filled with meaning does not come all at once – small conscious decisions made day after day lead to it. She is sought after and cared for. Shortcuts don’t always work, and complex systems are far less efficient.

Small steps matter and are easier to keep doing.

When small steps seem stupid

On January 1st of last year, I reflected on my goals in the same way that every energetic person does at the beginning of a new year. I understood that my approach to yoga should be different from what it was before. Since I wanted to do yoga regularly, I had to start with something just obscenely small.

What commitment did I make? One Downward-Facing Dog Pose per day. Only one.

If you don’t know anything about yoga, then “downward dog” is a pose in which your palms and feet (if possible) are pressed to the floor, and your butt is raised up. It is as if you are depicting the letter A with your body when playing charades. And, with the exception of the “corpse pose” (when you, like the dead, just lie on the floor), this is perhaps the easiest pose in yoga.

Every day I did one “downward-facing dog”. I leaned over, put my palms on the floor, lifted my butt up, held the pose for a few deep breaths, and then
got up. Plan for the day completed.

Of course, I felt like a complete idiot doing such a (ridiculously insignificant) exercise, but I was not going to retreat: in case this approach would be useful. The game
all-in did not lead to a win, maybe small bets will work?

For a while, the answer, at least in terms of results, was a resounding no. I did not automatically become more flexible, and I was not at all a person who knew Zen. However, my classes were too short to quit, so I didn’t quit.

And that was already a big win.

I got up in the pose in the morning or before going to bed if I forgot earlier, and sometimes I did it twice a day. From time to time, I did the whole “sun salutation” sequence (a sequence of twelve poses, which includes “downward-facing dog”), and it still took no more than fifteen seconds.

After about four months, I gradually built up that first small step and now practiced yoga for about thirty seconds a day.

I repeat: thirty seconds a day.

Of course, when I thought about it from the point of view of a genius, the whole idea seemed stupid. What nonsense is it to hope that thirty seconds of yoga means anything. Fortunately, more often than not, I thought about it from a much more encouraging “lazy genius” perspective: I developed a daily yoga habit and, although it didn’t last longer than an ad break, I was very proud of myself.

I was moving in the direction of what I always aspired to.

Small steps worked.

Do small steps even count?

Popular food blogger Bree McCoy didn’t have enough time during the day to sit down with a book, but she still wanted to make reading a part of her daily life. Instead of looking for opportunities where there weren’t any, she started small, with ten minutes of reading a day before making dinner . Just ten minutes. Often this wasn’t even enough to finish one chapter, but she knew it was a small, doable step that would lead her to her goal. She will not become a reader, but already a reader .

You may be thinking that if you don’t aim for something big right away, then the attempt does not count. I can’t say that I do yoga every day if I just get up in one position, right? Not! I can say that, and you can say that about any step you take.

The smaller the step, the more likely you are to actually take it, and the sooner you will continue to take it, turning this little thing into an important part of your daily routine. And that is exactly what matters.

Yes, I do yoga. Yes, Bree is reading. Yes, you too can declare your goal, even if you are moving towards it in small steps.

By the way, if I walk around the house every day, can I call myself a marathon runner? No, because I have never run a marathon . That’s why it’s important to be a “lazy genius” and figure out what matters to you.

If your dream is to learn how to draw, but for you an artist is a person who owns a studio or makes money by selling his paintings, you have formulated the goal incorrectly and set the finish line. You don’t have to be a professional, just be the person who draws.

If you act on the principle of “all or nothing”, this “everything” will remain unattainable. Since you think scale is the only thing that matters, you will continue to raise the stakes and push back the finish line.

Be a “lazy genius” and feel the power of small steps. They matter, they count, and that’s the best way to start moving.

When the stone finally breaks

Fourteen months after I started doing a little bit of yoga every day, I could only show this – a little bit of yoga every day. I felt a little more flexible, and I liked the crackle in my back when I extended my arms over my head in the morning, but I still couldn’t do a headstand and didn’t have calf muscles. I still couldn’t even place my feet flat on the floor when I got into the downward dog pose. The letter A that my body represented was always slightly crooked.

But one evening, doing yoga before bed, I started the “salutation of the sun” complex and realized that something had changed. My feet were pressed to the floor in the downward dog position. I could hold a low plank for five whole seconds without trembling. I was in the flow in which you want to be, doing yoga. Breathing suddenly adjusted itself to movement, I didn’t even have to think about it. It was such a wonderful Saturday night!

I diligently repeated my incredibly small step for fourteen months. Fourteen months . In the past, if I didn’t see results after fourteen days , I used to drop everything. The irony is that I made progress not only in the task at hand (yoga every day), but also in the physical activity itself and for this I did not need to practice yoga for four hours a week. It only took one tiny step, day after day.

I’d rather take the same small step every day for fourteen months and experience what’s important to me than jump into something huge and be stumped.

If you want to be a genius at what matters to you and a lazy person at what doesn’t, you need to start appreciating small steps.

Small steps are easy.

Simple steps are easy to follow.

Taking small steps helps you really move, which is half the battle, given that your options are to either try harder or give up.

The smaller the step, the more likely you are to take it, and the more often you will do what is important to you.

When you notice the results of a single decision, you will begin to notice the power of single decisions . One decision is sure to change your day, and as the stonemason learned from his own experience, days filled with single decisions change your life.

Practical ways to start small

  • Do you want to take vitamins every day? Put a vial of vitamins on the kitchen table every morning.
  • Do you want to cook dinner every night? Start doing it on Tuesdays.
  • Want to create a cleaning sequence? Wipe down your kitchen work surface every night before bed.
  • Do you want to walk more often? Put your shoes next to the door as a reminder.
  • Want to have a thriving business ? Contact one potential client per day.
  • Do you want to feel better? Do you want to remember who you really are? Get out on the porch every day and breathe deeply for a minute.


  • Both too strong feelings because of something, and a complete lack of feelings equally lead you to a dead end, and small steps will help you start moving.
  • The goal is movement, not the finish line.
  • Small steps are easy, simple steps are easy to follow, repeating small steps really does something.
  • Small does not mean meaningless, all these single decisions add up to something big.

One small step in the right direction

Name one area in your life that is important to you but often overlooked. Think of an obscenely small step you can take to get ahead in that area, and then do it every day. It’s not meaningless because you keep moving. Small steps teach us to appreciate the power of single decisions, and our next principle is the simplest and most revolutionary single decision you can make.

“Lazy Genius Mom” is useful to anyone who is tired of endless anxiety and the eternal desire to do something useful. Adachi will tell you how to separate the important from the unimportant and establish a life according to the principle of a “lazy genius”.

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