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Moving Forward, Bird by Bird

Birds As I work on my Artist's Way project, I'm coming across various ideas that, although not new, still strike a chord in me. Here's one that I think is important:

We get further doing something small and do-able daily in the life we already have.

When we make changes, we're inclined to try to "go big." We look at starting a blog, for example, and our minds turn to setting up a platform, writing posts, getting readers--a large scale project develops in our minds before we're even out of the gate.  It can be exhilarating, but more often than not, that thought process becomes a stumbling block. The more we think about the grandness of our new enterprise, the more intimidating and, frankly, exhausting, the idea becomes.

Our grand expectations also invite in our greatest doubts. The greater the plan, the more likely it is that we'll talk ourselves out of it. It seems like "too much," or somehow we aren't good enough or we have nothing to say. Then we do nothing, our plan sabotaged before we go anyplace with it.

The easiest and best way to move forward on anything is not to do so in a grand gesture. Rather than re-inventing ourselves in one fell swoop, we are better suited to the evolutionary process of change. What is the small, do-able task that we can easily incorporate into our lives? How can we do one thing each day that brings us closer to the change we're seeking? It's the one foot in front of the other process of moving through life.

One of my favorite authors is Anne Lamott. In her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, she talks about how her brother put off for weeks a major report on birds he had to do for school and on the night before it was due, he was completely overwhelmed by the task ahead. As he sat at the kitchen table, crying about how to get it done, his father said to him that the only way to do such a major thing would be to "go through it, bird by bird."

It's the same thing with anything we want to accomplish. We can only do it bird by bird. To attempt any other way is to invite not doing it at all.

How do you make change in your life?

Photo via Fort Photo


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Hi Michele, Just wanted to say thank you. I've been enjoying the posts on creativity and change this past week.

How do I make changes in my life? One bird at a time, hell no! I have to take on the entire flock and get pecked to death! Just not fun any other way! :)

Thanks for the great post! It's tied to a general topic close to my heart: thinking small. Not just because it's easier than a grand gesture or huge initiative, but because it's more efficient, local, gentle, and ultimately powerful.

I also love the block quote. It's the most effective way I've seen to address the seeming paradox of needing to both accept what is and work for change.

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