Tiny Victories, Big Dreams: Embracing the Power of Small Steps

Patrick Poh
5 min readMay 9, 2024

Have you ever dreamt of scaling a mountain, only to be paralyzed by the sheer height of the peak? Perhaps you yearn to write a novel, but the blank page taunts you with its emptiness. Or maybe that new language you want to learn feels like a tangled mess of unfamiliar sounds.

We’ve all been there, trapped by the “zero to 100” mentality

We are fixated on the HUGE gap between where we are and our desired destination, so much so that the first crucial step gets lost in the fog of doubt. But what if I told you that reaching for the stars could be as simple as taking one small step?

Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Tiny Steps

Welcome to the world of possibility that unfolds when we embrace the power of tiny steps. Forget the pressure of the giant leap, the one that leaves you breathless and potentially broken. Instead, imagine yourself as a champion inchworm, conquering the world one methodical inch at a time.

The trap of the “big chunk” mentality not only paralyzes us, but it also distorts our perception of progress. We tend to view growth as a linear path, a single giant step from point A to point B. But in reality, growth is a messy, beautiful dance of forward strides, stumbles, and detours. Focusing on the vast distance between ourselves and our goals only magnifies the obstacles and dampens our spirit.

Enter the power of tiny steps. This approach acknowledges that significant change happens incrementally. It’s about celebrating small victories, the ones that often get overlooked in our pursuit of grand achievements.

Think about a child learning to walk. They don’t start by sprinting across the room; they start with wobbly steps, mastering the art of balancing on two legs. Each step, no matter how small, is a cause for celebration, a testament to their resilience and determination.

Let’s meet Maya, a young girl captivated by the mesmerizing melodies of the piano. Her idol, the renowned Ms. Chen, effortlessly dances across the keys, leaving Maya breathless and yearning for the same level of mastery. Sitting down at her own dusty piano, Maya feels a wave of discouragement — how could she ever reach that level? Her wise teacher, Ms. Lee, recognizes the “big chunk” trap. Instead of overwhelming Maya with scales and exercises, Ms. Lee starts small. They begin with a single note, a simple C major. Maya, relieved at the manageable task, masters it quickly. Ms. Lee then adds another note, building on the success of the first.

This approach unlocks a hidden power within Maya. It’s not about competing with others but celebrating her own growth. With each successful repetition, Maya feels a surge of confidence. This isn’t just about playing the piano; it’s about unlocking the joy of learning, the thrill of pushing boundaries, and the satisfaction of creating something beautiful, even with just a few notes.

Maya’s journey is a testament to the power of tiny steps in any domain. Do you dream of writing a novel? Start with a sentence. Is a new language calling to you? Master “hello” first. Yearning to climb a mountain? Start with a walk around the block. The key is to take that first step, savor the process, and trust that the path itself will lead you closer to your destination.

Embracing the Journey

The magic of tiny steps goes beyond the initial victories. It fosters a sense of self-efficacy, the belief in your ability to achieve your goals. Each successful step, no matter how small, reinforces the idea that you are capable. This belief becomes the fuel that propels you forward, even when the going gets tough.

Furthermore, taking small, manageable steps allows for experimentation and adaptation. We can try different approaches, learn from our mistakes, and fine-tune our strategies along the way. This iterative process not only increases our knowledge and skills but also fosters a sense of agency. We become the architects of our own progress, actively shaping our journey and learning to embrace the unexpected turns.

And what about the joy of the process? Often, in our relentless pursuit of goals, we forget to savor the present moment. By focusing on tiny steps, we learn to appreciate the journey itself. The satisfaction of mastering a new skill, the thrill of overcoming a small obstacle — these are all moments of joy to be celebrated. This intrinsic motivation fuels our passion and keeps us engaged in the long run.

Shifting Gears: From Competition to Collaboration

The “zero to 100” mentality often breeds a culture of competition, both internal and external. We compare ourselves to others who seem to be further along the path, leading to discouragement and feelings of inadequacy. We get caught up in the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, measuring success by external validation rather than our own internal progress.

The tiny steps approach encourages a shift from competition to collaboration. We focus on our own journey, celebrating our personal victories and learning from our setbacks. We can even find inspiration in the journeys of others, seeing their success not as a threat but as a testament to the power of perseverance. This shift fosters a supportive environment where we can learn from each other and celebrate each other’s triumphs.

Building a Sustainable Path

Tiny steps aren’t just about achieving immediate goals; they’re about building sustainable habits. By focusing on small, consistent actions, we create routines that become ingrained in our daily lives. This consistency is crucial for long-term success. Think about fitness goals. It’s far more sustainable to commit to a daily 20-minute walk than to vow for a single, grueling 5-hour hike that you’ll likely abandon after a week. Tiny steps allow us to build habits gradually, making them easier to integrate into our busy lives.

Furthermore, the consistent successes we experience with tiny steps build momentum. Each completed task, each mastered skill, becomes a stepping stone to the next. This forward momentum fuels our motivation and keeps us engaged in the long run. We start to see ourselves as capable individuals, building confidence and fostering a “can-do” attitude that propels us further along our chosen path.

Taming the Inner Critic: Celebrating Imperfections

The “zero to 100” mentality often goes hand-in-hand with a harsh inner critic. We become fixated on perfection, viewing every mistake as a failure. This fear of failure can paralyze us, preventing us from taking that first crucial step.

The tiny steps approach allows us to embrace imperfection. We understand that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Each stumble becomes an opportunity to grow, to refine our skills and adjust our strategies. By celebrating our “almosts” and “almost-theres,” we create a more forgiving and supportive inner environment, fostering self-compassion and resilience.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Don’t get discouraged by the vastness of your dreams. Embrace the power of tiny steps. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small. Learn from your mistakes, and find joy in the process. By taking consistent action, one small step at a time, you will inevitably reach your destination. So, take a deep breath, break down that “big chunk” into manageable pieces, and embark on your journey with a sense of excitement and possibility. After all, the greatest adventures are often the ones we take one tiny step at a time.

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