Baby Steps

My six-month old nephew recently learned how to sit-up on his own.  He’s been working on it for a while and has since become a champ at it.  Before we know it, he’ll be crawling.  And soon enough, we’ll be chasing him around as he learns how to walk and starts running around.  Babies don’t go straight from laying on their back to standing on two feet.  They take “baby steps” to get there.  (Hey, there’s Captain Obvious again!)

As adults, I think we sometimes forget that baby steps apply to us, too.  We can’t go from being fat and out of shape to thin and fit overnight.  We can’t build proper savings by tossing five bucks into an account from time to time without a plan.  We can’t expect to come out of college and land a high-paying gig straight out of the gate.  The work has to be done in order to get the quality results we’re after.  It’s the only way to make our personal ideals reality.

I keep using weight loss as an example, because that’s something I’ve gone through recently, but the idea can be applied to pretty much any goal or dream.

Three years and 120 pounds ago, I was extremely obese, out of shape and unhappy.  I half-assed it for a while and lost twenty pounds without really trying too hard (I don’t even count those 20 pounds when people ask me how much I’ve lost, as I don’t feel like I earned them).

That’s good enough, right?  Or, I guess that’s all I’m meant to lose, I’d try and convince myself.

In reality, I wasn’t putting in the real work.  I’d sort-of watch what I ate, but didn’t take it seriously.  I’d go for a walk on occasion, but rarely broke a real sweat.  BUT IT’S SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT!  RIGHT?!


It took me almost three years to reach a healthy weight.  Three years of hard work every single day.  I had bad days, sure, but I kept at it.  I didn’t quit.  You can’t if you really want to change.

Reaching that goal was a huge deal for me, not only because of the lost weight, but because it proved to me that hard work really DOES pay off.  It’s not just a cliché.

Looking ahead, I have new goals.  I’m training to do distance rides on my bicycle in an effort to get fit.  I’m focusing more on my finances and planning for the future.  I’m working on being more productive with my time away from work.  All of these things require me to take baby steps and change my habits yet again.

As we charge towards another ball drop in Times Square, what do you want to change?  What can you do to live your life closer to your own ideals?  And what are the baby steps you need to take in order to get there?

That’s my beef with New Year’s Resolutions.  People make grand declarations about making an epic life change.  After a couple weeks, it doesn’t work out like they thought, so they quit and they feel like crap because in their minds they’ve failed.  They’re only looking at the end goal and not paying any attention to the baby steps they need to take in order to get there.  Don’t wait until January first and pile up all that pressure.  Make a small change today and build on that.

And remember, babies fall down from time to time… but they get back up and keep putting one foot in front of the other and become stronger walkers.

Getting back up is key in order to keep moving forward.  Babies are so smart.  Grown-ups could stand to learn more from them.



  1. The Emerging Dancer · December 6, 2012

    Your post reminds me of how we are such creatures of habit and how these habits are powerful things: they can lift us up or hold us down. When we make the choice to allow habits to lift us up, a new world can emerge right before our eyes.

    You’ve conquered weight loss and I’d speculate that maintaining a healthy weight has now become habit for you. Sure, maintenance is never free of effort, but now that you’ve achieved a new baseline it sounds as though you’ve freed a significant cognitive load enabling you to conquer new life challenges. And not only has your success freed you to take on what’s next, I’m willing to bet it’s provided you with exponentially more confidence than you started with 3 years ago. You’ve built momentum. For me, achieving whatever my current goal may be is as much about building the confidence to tackle subsequent challenges as it is about the intrinsic value resulting from achieving the goal at hand.

    I look forward to learning from you as you work to achieve new goals. With baby steps, of course.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • The Awkward Dancer · December 13, 2012

      You’ve hit it spot on! Building confidence has been a huge part of this and continues to be a big part of everything I do. Thanks for reading and the insight!

  2. Pingback: Baby Steps, part 2 | The Awkward Dancer
  3. Pingback: Baby Steps, part 3 | The Awkward Dancer
  4. Pingback: Week 1: Goals | Fifty Two Starts

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