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Monday Moment: Move molehills

Emma Grey

Over the weekend, I drove past a house I once lived in. We’d built it off the plan when the block was dense bush, and my ex-husband had planted the garden from scratch. Back then, I remember struggling to envisage the garden fully grown — the trees tall, the ground covered in flowers, the tiny hedge plants grown together offering privacy…

And yet that’s what I was seeing on the weekend. I had to remember it had been a decade since we lived there. What looked like magical ‘overnight’ transformation to me was really incremental growth over years.

Someone told me this week about some stress management training they’d done at which participants were asked to rate their current coping level out of 10. Zero meant they weren’t coping at all. Ten meant they were coping very well.

Once they had a rating, say six out of 10, they were asked to think of one strategy that they could use to move up one increment.

It’s not about leaping to 10 out 10. It’s about moving to seven out of 10 by taking just the next positive step.

When we devised the My 15 Minutes program in 2013, this was the theory behind the course. We knew people wanted to overhaul their lives, but we also knew they felt overwhelmed at the thought of it. The idea of losing weight and decluttering the house at the same time as building better relationships, saving money and transforming a career felt like more than people could chew.

So it wasn’t about expecting mammoth or instant change. It was about embracing small steps.

Yesterday, my daughter and I attended a Fashion Treasure Hunt in aid of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance of the ACT. Prior to the event, we were shown one of the most moving short videos I’ve ever watched. Teenager Lia Sintras had only one wish, and that was to be able to leave her wheelchair behind and walk into her Year 10 formal.

By taking small steps, every day, through intense therapy and hard work, Lia reached her goal. She walked into her school formal—her fellow students forming a guard of honour.

You don’t get that kind of progress overnight. You don’t get fully-fledged gardens. You don’t get weight loss. You don’t get a completely decluttered house or a healthy savings fund or a blossoming career with one wave of a magic wand.

You only get these things if you show up and put one foot in front of the other. Even if it’s incredibly difficult, as it was for Lia.

Most of our progress in life comes from moving molehills. Not mountains.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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