How many times have you heard the phrase, “Go Big or Go Home!”
I think a lot of us may feel overwhelmed in life; in marriage, at work, in raising children, with our finances, in losing weight, with our spiritual lives, in <fill in the blank> whatever area of life you can think of, because we are at a point where we feel that it is going to take some big miraculous change, some huge one-time single event to turn things around. That is overwhelming. And we never do it, because we talk ourselves out of it before we even start.
Go big or go home! You usually see a quote like that overlaid on a picture like the one above of some grand mountain landscape, helping you envision yourself climbing that great mountain. How many of us are prepared to go out today and scale a mountain like that? Not me! I could easily talk myself out of that, and I do the same with a lot of my other goals.
I feel that overwhelmed feeling each year when I start to do some goal-setting exercises. I see the grand goal, that is meant to be a year in the making and I get overwhelmed and don’t start, because it just seems like, too much.
Let me tell you, maybe whatever area of your life that seems overwhelming or hopeless at this point… maybe you need to “Go Small!” instead.
Your marriage may be a complete and utter failure in your estimation and maybe the only way out in your mind is divorce – a “fresh” start, because I mean really, it’s a wreck and there is no way it’s going to get better unless some great miracle happens, right? I’m going to give you a tiny little piece of advice. Forget about that finish line for now, and start small. Be the change that you wish to see. Make sure to do your part. In marriage that might mean, start changing your habits a little at a time. Start serving quietly. Maybe without a word, do the dishes for your wife. Maybe without a word, leave a nice note in your spouse’s car that they find when they head out to work in the morning, letting your wife or husband know that you are thankful for the hard work they do every day. Kill them with kindness, but take it slow, start small. You aren’t going to make it back to the honeymoon stage overnight – it’s going to take a lot of time and effort, but it’s manageable. When you are watching Cinderella, when do you get to the happily ever after part? At the end. It isn’t in the first five minutes of the movie. Start small. Do the little things, for a long time. Don’t give up.
How often do we feel overwhelmed at work? I don’t care what your line of work is, it’s the same feeling. Why? Because the boss (even yourself if you are self-employed) gives us these crazy pie-in-the-sky goals that seem like they are totally impossible. And we fail at them often, because we really do think they are impossible. We need to begin by believing that they are possible – in small manageable chunks. You might have a big project ahead of you right now and you are overwhelmed by the finish line. You start tackling it one chunk at a time. I know you can work 20 hours in a day if you want, but you’ll wear out fast with that approach. You really can only do so much. Start small. Set some milestones and start attacking them, a little at a time. Before you know it you’ll be looking back on that insurmountable goal after you’ve crossed the finish line.
This one is a slap in the face for me right now – I’m overwhelmed. I look at my beautiful, caring, loving teenage daughter. She is 15 and will only be under my roof for another three years or so. I have all of these “goals” for what I want to teach her, what I want to show her – all of these idealistic things that I wanted to accomplish as a father/daughter team. It looks impossible to me. I feel like I have squandered the first 15 years of her life. I sometimes feel the “it’s too late” gut wrenching ache that I don’t have enough time left – I want to start over, go back to when she was two and do it better. All I can do it start anew, right now. Start small. My only goal for this year with my daughter is to have monthly daddy/daughter date nights, where she and I go out and just hang out, talk, remind her how important she is to me. This may seem like a small thing, and really it is, but the rewards are priceless.
Financial strain is one that can really overwhelm us. You can look at your lack of savings, your non-existent retirement savings, your school loans, your mortgage, your overwhelming bills. I have some friends that are just starting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. Here is what we would normally expect… read my book and overnight all your financial problems will go away. That’s not how Dave Ramsey handles it. He even calls them, appropriately, baby steps. The course itself used to be 13 weeks long. It is down to 9 weeks now, but still in our minds, that is a long time. Start small. You can’t expect to be a millionaire in a year. Start by looking at what you are spending. Start by changing your spending habits a little. Start by saving a little. Before you know it, you will have no more debt and more money than you know what to do with. Start small.
For me, weight loss was an area that was always overwhelming. I saw the finish line (whatever that is in your head) as being so far away that it scared me to even start, so instead of improving, I actually gained more weight. That’s pretty much what happens with a lot of these situations. We are so afraid of the long journey, the big step, that we actually make our situation worse. But, for me, one day (April 19, 2015), I put on my shoes, went out to the treadmill and started walking. I got off the treadmill after 60 minutes of just walking and did it again the next day. I took a small step. And I kept taking small steps, yet incrementally larger and faster and longer ones until now, 60 pounds lighter – I run 5 miles per day, 5 days a week and don’t even think twice about it. At the beginning I was intimidated by that huge step of losing a bunch of weight – eventually I realized I just needed to get started, start small. I stopped focusing on the finish line and just started looking at the next step. You don’t start losing weight by running a marathon on day one. I lost my 60 pounds in 6 months. It’s hard for me to believe even now how quickly that happened, but if you had said that it would take six months when I started… I would probably have talked myself out of it. I am thankful I took those first small steps.
I became a Christian when I was 11 years old. That was almost 29 years ago. When I look at where I am right now, spiritually and where I should be (in my mind) 29 years later – I’m overwhelmed. I should have the Bible memorized by now, right? I shouldn’t have any feelings of doubt or fear. I should be a super-Christian. But, I’m not. It’s tempting to just give up in a circumstance like that, isn’t it? Maybe you have lived a pretty rough life and you’re thinking, there’s no way that I can change to be what a Christian should be, it’s just too much. I smoke, I drink, I look at porn, I… Start small. Pick an area of your life that needs improving and improve it. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. But, don’t give up, because the goal seems so far away. Just start small.
I enjoy watching the tiny house movement. I dream one day of living in a tiny home, but I know I can’t move into one overnight. I like the minimalistic approach, but it would take me months just to get rid of all the excess stuff I have now and figure out what was really worth keeping. You can’t move into a tiny home over night – you start by paring back, by preparing yourself for it. We’ve tried the opposite – the large home movement and that approach isn’t making any of us any happier – it just brings misery and more debt. Seems counter intuitive doesn’t it? That we are having to work at living small? You want a tiny home, start small.
I am a little over six months into a one year unpaid sabbatical. I have always wanted to write a book, so I took the jump and took a year off of work. Let me tell you, that decision was and continues to be… overwhelming to say the least. Who in their right-mind would give up a good paying job with great benefits to stay home and write a book and eat up their savings? Idiot! ???? It wasn’t an overnight decision… we started small. We budgeted, we saved, we paid off debts (except the mortgage), we started small, and now I am living out my dream. If you had asked me ten years ago if I would be where I am right now, writing and not working – I would have told you that was impossible. Anything is possible.
I encourage you friend to Go Small!