Exhibit 1: My daughter's ukulele on the coffee table, between the TV remote and a stack of beckoning library books (and Allie, the judgmental cat).
Exhibits 2 and 3: A pdf of a ukulele chord chart, thanks to rainbowmusic.com, and me subscribing to The Ukulele Teacher onYouTube.
This takes me three turtle steps closer toward learning to play the ukulele. It's not much. But it's a start.
And, rather than feel like a flop because I haven't learned any actual chords like I intended this winter -- while my daughter is out of the country (without her ukulele) and I recover from foot surgery -- I can at least tell myself I made some progress toward the goal.
Exhibit 3: An in-your-face turtle image I just ran across from a calendar page, a year old. Breaking down goals into the tiniest of turtle steps -- and doing them one at a time -- moves us slowly forward. It's better than doing nothing at all.
A year ago -- when this calendar page was just past current -- I was three months into a coach training program with little idea where it would lead me. My goal was to do the reading, practice and show up for class online each week. The turtle steps I took each week were sometimes as small as scheduling a practice session with a cohort member or even just choosing a friend to ask if they'd work with me.
The formula is simple: Break a task down into as small a step as you can. And do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.
For a student with a seemingly insurmountable backlog of reading, that might mean choosing a three-page section as a turtle step for one evening. If that doesn't seem doable, then break it down further. Maybe it's just a step of getting the book from the library. Or emailing a professor to say, "I know I am behind, here's the scoop..." Break it down. And do it. It's progress.
On a larger scale, the process might look like this...
Overarching enormous aspiration: Make a career switch.
Turtle step: Have coffee with a friend who is in a career you are curious about. Too much? Break it down further.
Smaller turtle step: SCHEDULE coffee with a friend who is in a career you are curious about. Still too big? Break it down again.
Even smaller turtle step: IDENTIFY a friend you might want to have coffee with who is in a career you are curious about.
See how it works? And see the magic of being able to look at that step completed at the end of the day and feel progress toward a goal, rather than shame or anger at staying in the same place?
The turtle and hare folktale comes to mind. But this isn't about winning a race. It's a tool for moving through life with intention, rather than letting it happen and looking back with regret at projects untackled, dreams unexplored, and goals unmet. It can work on everything from cleaning the garage to writing a dissertation (not that I'd know, but I've heard...).
It's a tool that requires practice, at least for me. So this March 2017 calendar is staying out where I can see it each day. Today's ukulele turtle step: Get the thing out of the case and tune it.
What turtle step can you take today to make progress on that ever elusive project or goal?
A 50-something life coach living in the Shenandoah Valley. Grateful. Growing. Giving... and receiving.