In Defense of Starting Small (& Why It Works Best)

It’s a Monday and I knew I wanted to publish this post on a Monday. It’s one that’s been stewing in my brain for the past couple weeks. 

Most of us don’t feel like we can “go big” first thing on a Monday (& if you are someone who does, you can see your venti Starbucks self to the door). But that’s ok. Today’s post is all about starting small

It’s a new perspective I’ve been adopting in my life that I absolutely love. It’s made a critical difference for me in a few different areas over the past six months. 

We shouldn’t be afraid to start small. 

So often, we experience a wave of inspiration in one form or another. Often, this might come in the form of feeling super motivated to work out/eat healthy/get fit, or perhaps it has to do with something at work or growing a side hustle.

So we feel this wave of inspiration and we ride it out. We get all ready to press ‘go,’ and decide on a day to start. For the purpose of this example, I’ll say it’s all about getting fit. So let’s say Monday rolls around, you press ‘go’ on this new lifestyle and you stay super healthy all day. You keep this up for awhile…maybe a couple days, maybe weeks, maybe (unlikely, but maybe) even months. But it fizzles. 

Starting big like that is almost always unsustainable. 

Sure, eating according to your strict diet and working out for an hour a day is manageable, but you’re just not going to be able to go from casually working out every now and then to keeping up with this regimen consistently. Hasn’t a situation like this happened to us all? We were so amped up and sure we were going to achieve something that we set out to do it with vigor. There’s nothing wrong with diving in headfirst, but now when we look back on that goal, we’re no closer to it than we were then. (6-pack, where you at?)

So I wanted to share this paradigm shift with you about starting small. Yes, it’s a long-term play. For example, you’re not going to be in your best shape ever in a couple weeks (or even months), but it’ll be a much more sustainable way of getting you there eventually. Its methodology won’t burn you out. Starting small can be a hard pill to swallow because it’s not going to get you your results tomorrow, but when you look back in the future, you’ll realize it was absolutely the way to go. 

Using myself as a case study, here are some areas this has worked in my life:

  • This blog. When I started being consistent with it back in January, I didn’t decide to dive in headfirst and try to get big quick. It’s ok to start small. So I didn’t hold myself to a routine of blogging for hours a day. Instead, I committed to blogging for 5 minutes a day…to taking things one step at a time whether that was writing a post, fixing bugs on the site, editing or taking photos, etc. So yes, I could probably be reaching more readers by now with a more strategic marketing plan and I could also definitely be doing a better job with all the technical aspects, but it’s one thing at a time for me because that’s how I know I’ll keep it sustainable (and fun). I can’t let myself get overwhelmed by the big picture or comparing myself to others. 
  • My 7-minute workouts. I need to do an update post, but these are going pretty well. I even did these 7-minute workouts 7 days a week without missing a day for Lent. They’re short (but intense) workouts, and they feel good. I’ve also totally gotten stronger, which is almost hard to believe but a little bit a day really does go a long way. These short workouts help me maintain consistency; they are helping me develop a lifelong habit because they don’t make me bite off more than I can chew. If I knew I had an intense hour workout ahead of me, I’d be much more likely to skip it now & then versus knowing I have a 7-minute workout ahead, so I really have no excuse. And what happens is that 7-minute workout easily turns into more. Getting your tennis shoes on is the hardest part, people. 
  • Calligraphy. I took a modern calligraphy class last summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. But let’s be honest, I am not practicing calligraphy much in my spare time. So I decided some time around December or January that I’d handletter the top of my to do list in marker every day at work to give myself just a little bit of daily practice. This boils down to about about 40-60 seconds of practice a day. Miniscule. 100% doable. Well, here we are in April and those 40 seconds have totally added up and I feel so much more confident in my skill. I even did a few of my colleague’s wedding invites last week. I know I’ve gotten better because I started small and did just a little, tiny bit a day. If I’d decided I’d practice even 5 or 10 minutes a day, I would have flaked, because honestly, it wouldn’t have been a priority and would’ve fallen off my radar completely. 

The point is, the big picture can be overwhelming. Growing (or starting) a blog or getting in shape or becoming a decent calligrapher are not quick and easy tasks. But when you embrace each of those as a ‘long-term play’ and don’t bite off more than you can chew, your manageable plan of attack makes them achievable…often before you expected, too. 

So going back to the fitness example, maybe you’re overweight and that’s keeping you from starting or staying consistent. The mountain seems too high to climb. You’re overwhelmed by how far you have to go. Well, I’ll tell you what won’t work. Committing to an intense diet of 1300 calories and a 5x/week workout routine. You’ll most likely do it for a couple days or weeks and fizzle out. It’s not sustainable. Start small. If you do, your habits will build on each other and when you look back in a year, you’ll be so much better off. And while it’s true you won’t be at your dream weight super soon, you’ll be so much farther along when you look back in a few months’ time than if you’d tried to start big. 

Start small with one thing today. I’m cheering you on! 

Sending positive vibes, 

Jenny 

Other than white lace tops (a spring favorite), this bag is Kate Spade (thanks, Kelsey!) in Lilah Laurel and shoes are Indigo RD.

Fashion + Beauty, Health, Life, Musings, Style
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