The beginning of a new year is usually a time to look ahead, dream big dreams, and make audacious goals. Social media encourages us to join this trend with sayings like:
Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.
Have goals so big, you feel uncomfortable telling small minded people.
Inspiring stuff. The problem with big goals is that we begin to think that our everyday actions aren’t important. Who cares about one small step when we’re focused on huge goals? How can our insignificant efforts make any difference?
But small stuff matters.
Five ways small stuff matters in our lives.
- Small goals. Big goals may sound impressive, but we can only achieve them if we break them into small, doable steps. In fact, it is only by tackling bite-sized goals that we will have the motivation to keep working long enough to reach the finish line. Big goals may sound impressive, but it’s the small, daily goals that allow us to get important stuff done.
- The little details. Why do professional chefs fuss over the placement of a sprig of rosemary? It doesn’t make the food taste any better, does it? Maybe not, but they know the little details, in both cooking and presentation, make the difference between something good and something great. When we take time to add that little bit extra, it proves how much we care—and that is no small thing.
- Small kindnesses. We must never underestimate the importance of small acts of kindness. A simple thank you, a hug, a brief note, a few words of encouragement—small kindnesses such as these can make a huge difference in a person’s day. Never forget the power of simple, everyday acts of kindness.
- Trivial tasks. We all have a collection of nagging little tasks that aren’t important enough to rise to the top of our to-do list. We try to tell ourselves they don’t matter. But they do. They lurk in some dark corner of our brains, whispering reminders of their not-yet-resolved status and enjoying cameo appearances in our more disturbing dreams. Periodically taking the time to scratch a few of them off our list can give us a much-needed boost. We might even sleep easier.
- Simple play. If I have been focused on the computer for too long, my cat will begin pestering me. First it’s the claws on the back of the chair. Then she hops onto the desk and begins rearranging papers. Finally she resorts to sitting in front of the screen. I am learning to listen, because a few minutes of play will not only appease the cat, but enhance my efficiency as well. Taking time away from work to play a little is just plain good for us. (Why do you think those adult coloring books are so popular?)
So my advice to you this year is to pay attention to the small stuff. Not the worry-over-endless-tiny-details kind of small stuff, but the host of everyday, bite-sized actions that build up over time to make a difference in your life and the world around you.
Think about those big, scary, audacious goals, but then simply take the next small step.
Who knows where you might end up.