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1 – Why Small Steps Matter

by Jill

Inspired by Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas 2019 speech, this episode deeply delves into the power of taking small steps to achieve lasting change. With examples from experts like James Clear and BJ Fogg, you’ll get plenty of practical tips and tricks for breaking down your goals into small, achievable actions. And if you’re up for a challenge, the episode concludes with a seven-day challenge to pick one thing and try breaking it down into tiny, actionable steps. 

Welcome to the Start with Small Steps podcast. Thank you for listening!  Every day I see people get overwhelmed every day by their daily lives and their projects at work and teams at work getting overwhelmed by projects at work. They take every task, every action and ball them up together until they are a giant dark cloud that follows them around. Just for kicks they throw in a few extra unneeded tasks and unrealistic fears and rampaging emotions. It’s no wonder when they need action, the project is now so large, and it seems insurmountable.

The Queen’s Speech

I wanted to do a podcast for a while. I wasn’t really sure what would be the best way to approach helping people. But then came a speech that finally made it clear to me! Taking small steps! The idea behind this podcast came from Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas 2019 speech.

She starts out mentioning big events in history. First she talked about the first step on the moon.

“As those historic pictures were beamed back to earth, millions of us sat transfixed to our television screens, as we watched Neil Armstrong taking a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind — and, indeed, for womankind. It’s a reminder for us all that giant leaps often start with small steps.”

If you watched the last season of The Crown you saw the depiction of that event and the impact it had on the Queen’s family. And she is right. Neil Armstrong came out of the capsule after so many small steps before him that made it possible. This was not one heroic event but a million of events! Each of them one small step.

She talks about D-Day reunion and rebuilding trust among the nations that were at war.

“Such reconciliation seldom happens overnight. It takes patience and time to rebuild trust, and progress often comes through small steps. “

“And of course, this is true. There were nations and people who had little reason to trust each other or hope the other would stand firm. But with small steps and building these relationships D-Day was possible. Relations are hard but with steps we too can build each other up and build that bridge of trust again. We can even rebuild trust in ourselves. This what we need right now!

And even the journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem was about small steps.

“Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding. Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”

She ends her speech with this quote. It sums up the goal of my podcast which is to give everyone small steps that we each can take to better our lives, our families, our nations, and our world. Then the Queen brings it to the challenges today which were hard and almost impossible! She didn’t even know about 2020 yet!

She says, “It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. And, as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”

To read the full speech read here or to hear her deliver it you can go to my website and my show notes for the link:


That is my goal with this podcast and my hope for this community! Together we will look for small steps and learn how to put them into action! The Queen’s speech was inspiring to me! I look forward to inspiring you and to be inspired by you!

So now I want to talk about some of my favorite people who talks about small steps

James Clear on Being 1 percent better

The first person is James Clear’s who wrong a book Atomic Habits. Most of his book is about habits and winning at creating and following through. I am pulling out some thoughts about small steps from his materials. Into what James Clear calls Marginal Gains from the following article https://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains

“Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”

In his books he says

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent”

Here is an interesting thought that Business Insider decided to examine. What if you saved $1 every day of your life? In 10 years, in 50 years it would be $18,250. But change isn’t just the change itself. It earns interest. If we were to take a walk every day, we would start to walk faster and burn more calories and get more fit. Maybe it would encourage us to run or hike and then lose even more weight and get even more healthy. Taking on good habits leads to bigger success, like interest. That $1 savings becomes $23,646 with a 1% money market. If it was I a 11% fund it becomes about $600,000 and a better fund at 11.23 it becomes $698,450. Change compounds and grows, even when it isn’t money. Think big! I learned how to save by losing weight. That incremental life helped me understand how to shave money off for savings. They seem unrelated but the lesson was creating ripples in my life! If you keep your house organized, you also gain in not spending time putting things away or looking for things. More ripples!

If you decide you want to write a book. Let’s say you wanted it to be 5000 words. Small book. What if you wrote 50 words a day? You would have your book in 100 days. But you would also get better at writing books! The next book will be easier and better!

For more information https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits

BJ Fogg on Tiny Habits

BJ Fogg is a Stanford Professor who spoke about tiny habits years before writing his books. He has a three-step formula for these tiny habits.

He calls for a Tiny Behavior an Anchor Moment and then celebration.

When picking the tiny behaviors, he says there are three criteria:

  • You can do the habit – Make sure it is not too hard.
  • You think the habit is effective – So you think it will make good changes in your life.
  • You want to do the habit –  Habits are really hard when you want to do them, but if you don’t want to do them, they are impossible.

He then makes them tiny by either making the step towards the goal smaller or making the goal itself smaller.

When you think about it in terms of weight loss. Can you make smaller sub goals like losing 1 pound instead of being faced with the 50? Or can you break losing weight down into a smaller step like replacing a snack with some vegetables? Or making your meals smaller or maybe going for a work after lunch?

When he talks about tiny habits he means really, really tiny. Flossing two teeth! Doing two pushups! Saving $10.  That is the goal. So tiny that you will never fail. It will always be the goal even if you are an overachiever and you do more. Doesn’t that sound better to be more awesome because you flossed all your teeth? It is certainly better than lamenting you forgot to floss any teeth. This way if you ever fall flat on your entire behavior you can always settle back down into the tiny habit.

He then matches this identified tiny habit with a trigger which is something you do now. You might drink more water while getting the cats water. You might do squats while brushing your teeth or praying while getting dressed in the morning. It has to be something you already do already and you tie it together. If it doesn’t work he asks you to check to see if the habit was too hard or you forgot and the trigger needed to be better tied to the event.

One thing to keep in mind about triggers is making sure they are not too random or that they happen at the right intervals. I noticed he mentioned unexpected visitors or girl scouts coming to your door as a trigger to do something. For me, I don’t have visitors or girl scouts coming to do his door, often so it would make a horrible trigger. It must be relevant to you and regular enough for you to follow. If it is something that has to be done quickly or often, you can attach it to habits with long timings.

I have tried this by telling myself I only have to put on my gym clothes and the trigger is when work is over. I don’t have to exercise. I celebrate by listening to my favorite Audible book or tv show that is reserved for exercise time. I also celebrate by putting on my more comfortable clothes. The gym clothes stay on until I exercised. If I was not working out at home but riding my bike, I would tell myself that after work I have to get to the bike trail and bike for five minutes. I could go home after that. If I did bike, I could set my alarm for 15 extra minutes of sleep. Every day after the workout, I had to make myself a salad. I don’t have to eat it. I usually do. I clean my kitchen when I make meals and well the reward is a much cleaner kitchen without extra time. At one time I had an adventure fund that got dollars from good habits. It was a tad too complicated to keep but it was a step in the right direction. Every time I go up or down stairs I bring items with me and put them away. It doesn’t take much time and I mentally pat myself on the back. When I travel for work, I always ask the restaurant staff to put half my mean in a container to take back to my hotel. I get another delicious meal without having to leave my room and I don’t put on weight. This is before I even see the meal. There is no temptation to eat too much. A tiny habit with a long time span became that when I got raises I would put that money in my 401k because I was used to living without it. It took some time but now I save a lot towards my retirement.

For celebration, you might save a special show or your favorite movie or eat at your favorite restaurant that week. Maybe you throw a dollar in your fun fund.  It can be tiny and low cost, but it should never step on other goals. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward yourself with food or restaurants.

On his webpage you can find 300 recipes for tiny habits to help stir your creativity. https://www.tinyhabits.com/300recipes 

For more information check out his website at: https://www.tinyhabits.com/.

Stephen Duneier on Small Decisions

Investment manager and speaker, Stephen Duneier has a Ted Talk which discusses his desire to lose weight and hike all 33 trails in the Santa Barbara Mountains. Part of what he said “You have to break this big ambitious goal down into more  manageable decisions – the types of the decisions that need to be made correctly along the way in order to improve the odds of achieving  the type of outcome you desire. It’s not about even one trail. It’s about those tiny little decisions, you know, like when you are sitting at your desk, putting in just a little extra time at the end of the day. Or you’re lying on your couch and clicking through the channels on your remote control or scrolling through your Facebook feed, and in that moment, make the decisions to put it down. You go put on your hiking clothes, you go walk outside your front door, and you shut it behind you. You walk to your car, get in, drive to the trailhead. You get out of the car at the trailhead and you take one step, you take two steps, three steps. Everyone of those steps that I have just described is a tiny little decision that needs to be made correctly along the way in order to achieve the ultimate outcome. When I saw I want to hike 33 trails in the front country people think about the decisions at the top of the mountain. That’s not what it’s about. But if you don’t make the right decision when you are on the couch, there is no decision that occurs at the top of the mountain.“

He later decided to read 50 books “But again, it’s not about reading 50 books. It’s not even about reading one book. It’s not about reading a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence. It’s about that decision when you ‘re sitting at your desk at the end of the day, or when you’re lying on the couch or flicking through your Facebook feed, and you put down the phone. You pick up a book and read one word. If you read one word, you’ll read two words, three works; you’ll read a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, a book; you’ll read ten books, 30 books, 50 books.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQMbvJNRpLE

Of course, small steps is not a new concept. Lao Tzu said nearly 2400 years ago “A Journey of 1000 miles becomes with a single step” In business there is the concept of Kaizen which is Japanese word which means change for the better. In business it tends to mean “continuous improvements. These changes tend to be very small and easy to implement. As you can see small steps are everywhere.

Half Sized Me on Slowing Down

Have you ever heard of the Half Size Me podcast? I am a big fan because it talks about hitting the one thing that will make the biggest impact. Just that one thing! If you have two snacks a day, can you try one? If you have a glass of wine every night, can you do four nights? The host talks about people who want to jump in and drop a large amount of weight and groan at losing a pound a week. If I followed that plan I would be down about 2000 pounds. https://www.halfsizeme.com/why-you-need-to-slow-down/


  1. Small steps lead to lasting change, rebuilt relationships and achieved the goals despite bumps in the road.
  2. If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better.
  3. Make sure you break your goals into steps that are so small you cannot fail.
  4. Create a connected trigger when you will take the action, name the tiny, tiny habit and create a celebration.
  5. If you can’t make the goal smaller, break it into tinier actions.


Let’s pick one thing you can break into a small tiny action that you know for sure you can do. Can you do one push up? Can you clean for 10 minutes? Can you save 10 dollars and put it aside? Then try for the next week to have seven days of success. Let me know if it worked and what happened by contacting me on the Slack Channel (preferably) or Facebook group or my website has a contact page if you wish to remain private! It’s all there for you on the website at https://smallstepspod.com.

Now for a fun piece of advice from culture. It could be from movies, tv or books.

“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”

And that, of course, was Parks and Recreation with Leslie Knope talking about the important of friends, and waffles and work. That was from season 3 in an episode called The Fight.  So, what do you think? Is this good advice? Are waffles really this important? I think so! Is business third? Could be! Let me know what you think!

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