At some point in time, someone has probably given you the advice - “Just take it one step at a time” or “Take baby steps.” These helpful sayings are usually said to help us complete a job or figure out something new. Just the other day I used the baby-step metaphor with a client. Using the metaphor this time, however, felt so real and alive to me since I’ve recently gained new insight watching my own sweet baby boy start walking. He’s literally taking baby steps! It’s so darn adorable, too. But guess what? He’s not very good at it... yet. Taking baby steps isn’t just about taking small steps (that’s how my literal mind sometimes interprets this saying). Taking baby steps means that each action towards a new goal is tiny, wobbly, wonky and sloooowwww. My little baby puts his arms in the air to help him balance, and then he pauses to try and right himself when he picks up too much speed or loses coordination (which is often).
When I was talking to this client about taking baby steps with their school work (which causes them some anxiety) we broke down what taking baby steps means for them. I even got up and demonstrated what baby steps are and how they may look! I probably looked like a fool, but it helped us laugh and get into the reality of the metaphor. In life, taking a baby step often means that you aren’t sure, and that’s okay! It’s really about getting yourself moving, starting with the most gradual of steps, and letting yourself sort of hang out in the space of uncertainty and imperfection. It’s okay to want to go fast - some babies start out running! - but know that you also need to figure out how to stop, lest you crash! When I see my baby walk, I feel like I can hear him thinking, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it! Wait, nope, wait, yes! Nope again! Hey, now I’m doing it! This is great!”
What do you think when you’re in the midst of a project or task that you’re trying hard to complete? Is it light and fun and optimistic or harsh and cold? Could you try smiling like a baby when they joyfully take flight with their newfound skill? It could make a difference. And just remember, baby steps don’t last forever. All babies get better... just as you will when you’re working on something new!