Blog Archives

There’s no elevator to the top, you’ll have to take the stairs

Upon hearing this expression the other day, it got us thinking. What does this mean and is taking the stairs a plus or a minus? On first blush it seemed more negative, as in “wow, stair climbing, that’s a lot of work,” but on second thought, it seemed liberating as in “wow, it’s actually achievable, there are steps I can take that will add up to big changes.” When you read this saying, how does it strike you?

We often want things to be easy and quick – like an elevator ride – and our modern lifestyles reflect this. Further, technology, as wonderful as it is, fuels the assumption that it is always possible to get things done quickly and effortlessly. However, there are many examples of where having things come too soon or too easily can be challenging. Think of lottery winners who become wealthy instantly, athletes who win their very first competition, or celebrities who become famous just after being discovered. All too often people in these circumstances “crash and burn” because they are unaware of how to sustain their good fortune. They end up in unpleasant circumstances because their success came too rapidly, with few if any intervening steps.

Stair climbing begins to feel a lot more appealing after taking a closer look at the possible “elevator scenarios”. Taking things slowly has its advantages. With that in mind, how do we help ourselves look at things more positively when we feel we aren’t making progress toward our goals or we face obstacles that seem too big to surmount? Here are a few tips:

Recognize where you are. Expect that your long-term plans will be like running a marathon – when you feel the finish line is a long way off, notice how far you have come from the starting gate. Recognizing this will help you stay motivated to keep going.

Break big goals into much smaller ones. Nothing new here, but how often do we forget to do this? Remember the expression “Rome was not built in a single day” and apply this wisdom when things start to feel overwhelming. Completing small tasks over time yields big results.

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! We can become so fixated on our goal that the journey becomes an afterthought at best or drudgery at worst. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can celebrate each small success and enjoy the fact that we are learning and growing as we proceed – indeed this should be our goal no matter what else we are hoping to accomplish!

Self-Discovery Tool Number 69:
Quick results can be seductive, but often they only have temporary staying power. Instead of wishing and waiting for an immediate payoff, take a small step and congratulate yourself on accomplishing it. Make an effort to enjoy the ride in whatever way you can, rather than exclusively focusing on the destination. Love yourself as you keep on learning and you’ll be reaching the top before you know it!

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Low Stakes Change for High Stakes Potential

Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut, feeling sluggish, bored and with too much time on our hands. Sometimes the opposite occurs and we feel like things are too busy, too rushed and too out of control. Yet what both these situations have in common is that change is needed. Even if we understand this intellectually, change can feel scary and intimidating. So how can we make change feel more comfortable and even fun? By starting small!

Here are a few simple ideas to get you going – the point is to step outside your usual patterns:

  • Spend a few minutes outside, even if the weather isn’t perfect, to refresh yourself and stimulate new thinking

  • If you always do the cooking, let a family member or a restaurant take over this duty; if you never cook, give it a try

  • Test out a new style that appeals to you but might be described as “too much” – too dressy, too attention-getting, too colorful, too young, etc. – release the judgment temporarily and give some aspect of it a try

  • Don’t say “yes” just because this is what you always do; say “no” when you can and want to say “no”

  • If you typically order a particular coffee, sandwich or entree, when you go out, pick something a little different

  • Give yourself permission to temporarily “unplug” as the messages will be there when you return

  • When you hear something that irritates you, remain quiet or change the subject instead of arguing; or, if you usually avoid sensitive topics, calmly share your point of view without, of course, expecting instant understanding or agreement

  • Ask a friend to think of something simple that she/he has always thought you should you try – a new walking trail, book, cuisine, etc. – and then help you get what you need to experience it

  • If you never listen to music, put the radio on, if you love TV, try a magazine, if you typically surround yourself with noise, try a little silence

  • Wear your hair differently; if it’s short, change where you part it, if it’s long, put it up or wear it down; see how it feels to do the opposite of what you typically do

  • Make someone’s day, pay a stranger a compliment instead of keeping your admiring thoughts to yourself

  • Request an opinion from someone who seems very different from you and see if you learn something unexpected

  • Take a break from needing to make your own or others’ actions “good” or “bad,” instead try to experience events without labeling them

  • Ask “why not?” instead of “why?”

Self-Discovery Tool Number 60

We tend to think that we need to do big things to bring about growth and yet growth comes from small steps as well as large ones. Get into the habit of making small changes, they are the foundation upon which big, long-lasting shifts can be built – give it a “small” try today!