The Power Of Turtle Steps

When I first meet with potential clients, I review their current situations and discuss what they would specifically like to achieve in the first 90 days of working together. Often the goals are lofty: get out of massive amounts of debt; find a partner; locate a different career in a new sector. Most individuals feel stuck and don’t know where to begin. I implement the use of the acronym, S.M.A.R.T. in order to create specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited guidelines for motivation between sessions. As their coach, my ambition is to support them in successfully reaching these milestones but I encourage taking initial “turtle” steps.

It is often in the minor efforts where we begin to change and build momentum. Although it takes some time and patience, I believe that it is possible to conquer big challenges just by starting small.

In the follow-up to their bestselling book, THE POWER OF NICE, co-authors Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval show us how to harness the power of small to improve and transform your life in their new book, From making a connection with an employer during an interview to keeping track daily of personal spending, this book reinforces the benefits of refocusing attention on the little things. Making a decision to outline a plan is the first step, but showing up for the task is the second, (and sometimes more difficult) part. I asked Robin Koval (RK) about the ways that she has managed to stay true to her promises and to “just show up.”

AM: Does your mood ever play a role in your decision-making? ?

RK: We are human and so sometimes we must make decisions when we are happy and sometimes when we are stressed, frustrated or angry. My objective is to recognize my mood, acknowledge it and then try to step back and make as mood-neutral a decision as possible. ?

AM: Do you ever procrastinate, and if so, how do you beat it? ?

RK: I’ve been known to play a game of solitaire or two as I put off writing that difficult email. My method is to allow some procrastination (okay, you can play solitaire for 10 minutes) and then jump back into the project. I find simply starting a task with a baby step helps to get you past that “I don’t know what to do” swirl that can overwhelm all of us. Break that tough task down into smaller-bite size pieces and it won’t seem so daunting. In we talk about marathon runner Paula Radcliffe. She runs by counting. Every time she counts to 100 three times, she knows she’s run mile and that is an accomplishment in itself. ?

AM: How do you encourage someone to take the first step in trying something new?

RK: Stop thinking of it as a big deal. Instead of getting stressed about the enormity of the action (e.g. ask your boss for a raise), become a mini-tasker and make a list of three small things you know you can commit to and succeed at (make a list of my accomplishments this month). Success at one small task helps give you confidence to take on another. ?

AM: Can you describe a time when you showed up for something, (though ?you didn’t feel like it), that impacted your life in a positive way?

RK: Every 7AM ice skating session I’ve ever skated. I hate it every time I have to get out of bed but always step off the ice completely happy. ?

AM: Anything you regret not showing up for?

RK: Although I showed up for every dance recital, school play and science fair; I still regret all the little times I wasn’t there to kiss the scratched knee or soothe the bruised ego the moment it happened.

Robin Koval is a marketing strategist and new products expert who has been a driving force in the advertising industry for more than two decades. Today, Robin is the President of The Kaplan Thaler Group and is responsible for the general management of the agency, including client services, strategic and new business development, and KTG’s Buzz unit.??She is also the co-author with Linda Kaplan Thaler of the bestselling books, “THE POWER OF NICE” and “BANG!.” Her newest book, also written with Linda Kaplan Thaler, is called “THE POWER OF SMALL, Why Little Things Make All the Difference” (April 2009).