November 16, 2020

What is the smallest step you can take, right now, with little or no effort?


Early on in your project, long term vision is not your friend.

It’s a momentum killer. Imagining everything you need to do to make your idea a reality is a huge mental obstacle that can make success feel miles away.

A smarter use of your attention is to zoom in. Going from a telescope to a microscope. Here’s one simple question you can ask.

What is the smallest step you can take, right now, with little or no effort?

Once you identify the very next physical action required to move your project forward, and then do it, you will start to gain a greater sense of agency over your work. It won’t even matter how small your steps are.

In isolation, they may not feel significant. But in the aggregate, you’ll be amazed at how much leverage you can create for yourself.

Remember, the creative process is nothing but an endless series of small and conscious choices. The goal here is momentum. Getting things moving in the right direction. Trusting that even the small actions you think aren’t that important add up.

My old startup founder comes to mind. He practiced promise based leadership. Coming from a military background, he deliberately cultivated and coordinated commitments. To him, this was the only way to inspire teams to finish projects consistently.

He trained us to always end meetings with each participant stating consciously and publicly what their positive commitments were. Then one person sent out a written summary list of each of those commitments.

This process felt excessive a times, but then again, it also made us feel like we had honor. Which motivated us to move projects forward swiftly and consistently.

How committed are you?

If you’re starting something new right now, this process of zooming is invaluable. Because when you’re at the beginning of your journey, excited as you may be, it’s also easy to feel intimidated by the long road ahead.

My recommendation is, not to focus on that. Objects in the mirror may be farther away than they appear. For now, let micro execution cure your impulse for inaction.

You’ll quickly see that small steps work just as well as big ones at taking your work where it wants to go.

If successful creative projects are nothing but are a series of daily commitments strung together, what’s the next action you can take?