It’s New Year’s! Time for celebration, forward looking and resolutions most will unfortunately never fulfill. Personally I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong – I reflect on my past successes and failures, consider changes I want to make, set new goals and contemplate my purpose. But it is an ongoing exercise – something I do more than just when the calendar turns.
Perhaps it is because I am slow or dense. Or maybe it is because I think too much. Whatever the reason, breaking each goal down into smaller steps makes achieving any goal easier. Use your goals as a reference to decide how to live each day.
I like to think of it as Bob did in the 1991 comedy film What About Bob? Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss, gives a copy of his groundbreaking book, Baby Steps, to his hapless phobic psychiatric patient, Bob played by Bill Murray.
Baby steps, Dr. Marvin explains, means “setting small reasonable goals for yourself one day at a time, one tiny step at a time.” Bob carries the book – and the philosophy – like a bible through the movie. “Baby steps onto the elevator, baby steps into the elevator, I’m on the elevator!” And the door closes…. followed, of course, by paranoid Bob screaming.
If you have never seen the movie, it is a classic comedy that no doubt would not have succeeded with a different cast. The movie is worth watching for more than the comedy though. It is inspirational and gives the audience plenty of edicts to live by.
The philosophy of baby steps is a proven method to achieve your goals. It starts by taking “one tiny step at a time”. If you want to lose ten pounds, start your day with a healthy breakfast, make a shake the night before or park at the back of the parking lot. Take the stairs or ask a friend to go for a walk instead of going out to lunch to catch up and visit.
If you want to win at the fall championship shows, start by breaking down each element of the discipline you are best suited to succeed in. If Showmanship is your gig, start by dissecting each maneuver: the setup, initiating a walk from a standstill, walking and trotting straight lines, etc. Each week take one element and concentrate on that element specifically until you and your horse are completely proficient at that element. Then begin to string together maneuvers to test your understanding first at home then at a show. Return to the next set of elements as necessitated by your goals and work your way to the winner’s circle.
As you ring in 2015, resolve to take baby steps. Reward yourself for the little accomplishments along the way. Enjoy the process, learn from your mistakes and engage yourself fully in what matters most to you. Your actions are a result of your thoughts – so start with your thoughts – tiny steps.
Baby step your way to the barn, baby step your way to ride without irons, baby step your way over a little jump; take one tiny step every day that puts you on the path to success. When you lose your motivation, watch What About Bob? again.
And when it comes time to step across the threshold, think like Bob “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful. I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful.”