Building blocks

I tend to be a person who looks at the very big picture. It’s a trait that has served me, and others who count on me, well. Whether in business, marketing, technology, church or life, that approach has allowed me to take on complex problems and issues successfully. I can see the big picture, break it down to bite sized chunks and see it through to completion pretty effectively.

But when my own life fell apart through a divorce, that big picture process did not work. I was simply too broken. My counselor wisely helped me see that I had to reverse the process, and in the midst of brokenness, start small.

In my case, small meant recapturing a part, a tiny but essential part of my life. My spirituality. Each day, no matter what, I spent time each morning in prayer, scripture reading and meditation. It was not a lot of time, maybe 15-30 minutes. But it helped reground me back to the best of myself that had gotten lost in the world’s erosion.

From that small foundation, I was able, over time, to rebuild my life, one small bit at a time, until could once again see and operate effectively in a larger, more complex world.

A lot of people who decide they want to effect serious change in their lives come to it from a place of crisis. A death of a loved one. A divorce. A long layoff. A middle age crisis. The list is long, but the principle is the same. It is best to start small.

Why? There are several reasons.

  • In times of crisis, we often are not thinking as clearly as we should. Starting small means we won’t go too far down a path spawned by confused thinking.

  • Starting small also gives us the chance to have small victories in our life, which are critical to regathering our self esteem and strength.
  • In times of crisis, often we can’t concentrate on a lot of things at once. But we CAN concentrate on one small thing.
  • Starting small does not build huge expectations, and thus we aren’t as brutal to ourselves when we struggle. It allows us to be kind to ourselves more easily.
  • Starting small gives us a foundation, a place to begin laying our building blocks.

Your starting point does not have to be the same as mine. For me, refocusing on the spiritual was a key element to reclaiming the best of myself. But for you it may be something different.

It won’t be easy at first. You are breaking a habit of negative thinking, and a sense that you should be doing more. But give yourself a little time. The mantra “Just for today” is a powerful and true one.

By focusing just on today, the task is not overwhelming. And failure too is just for the day.

The remarkable thing is how these small steps add up. Our brain craves routine and preditability and working on one small change brings a certain peace to it. It calms what the easterns call “the monkey mind” and allows us to focus, to calm ourselves, to establish a habit and then… to start the next one.

Rebuilding a life is not magic. It’s work. It’s a process. It’s one block on the other. Building something. Thinking too much about the final outcome can be daunting, So lay your foundation. Focus on a few important things. When those are in place, you are far better equipped to move to dreaming big. Your foundation is solid. And in the peacefulness of taking it one block at a time, you are better equipped not just to create a real, sustainable dream, but to achieve it.

Take care, Journey Wisely,


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