Every Journey Starts With a Single Step: Layered Learning


learning, baby steps, adhd adults, beat procrastinationWhile each of us has dreams and ambitions, it’s only those of us who really try to achieve our goals who will ever accomplish them. For those with adult ADHD, with unique brain wiring and experiences, the feat of achieving a goal is sometimes over before it even begins. ADHD adults are so used to being singled out; being told “you did it wrong”, that they develop a fear of even trying. Thus ADHD adults often feel that if they are going to try something new, they have to be an expert, before they can even begin. They get into analysis paralysis or perfectionism, which most often leads them to give up before even taking that first step.

Take a first step even before you know everything there is about what you are trying to achieve. If instead of waiting until you are an expert, you took a first baby step, you would find that in the action you took there was something you learned, even if that action wasn’t successful. Take losing weight for example. You don’t necessarily need to plan your menu for the next month, calculate the number of calories you’re eating, or join a gym. All you need is to identify one single step you know you could take that could take you in the right direction.

You might consider walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator or getting off a stop earlier to walk to work. You might select a lower-calorie version of one staple in your diet, like switching to a lower calorie margarine or salad dressing. Once you make that change and it becomes comfortable, you add a new baby step, like filling up on water instead of on junk food between meals. Baby steps are more comfortable to make and allow you to adjust accordingly. If you find that you don’t like the new margarine you chose, try another one until you find something that you can live with.

Imagine if, as babies, you decided not to attempt to walk until you knew for sure that you could get up and walk without falling. You never would have built the courage, muscles and balance you needed to walk. Learning is about taking a series of baby steps. From getting up, to falling, to standing up while holding onto a table, to standing without help, to taking your first steps and eventually running; every one of these actions provided learning and allowed you to adjust so that next time you could do better.

If for every big dream or goal you wanted to achieve, you decided to take a first manageable step before you had learned everything there was, you’d be more likely to move forward and learn something in the process. Yes, there are chances that the first step you take will lead to failure, but I’d like to challenge you to see failures as learning experiences. Ask yourself each time you think you’ve failed, “what have I learned from this experience?” and “how can I use what I learned to take future steps?” Shift your beliefs around mistakes and consider that each one is a learning experience that brings you closer to your goal. And remember the ancient Japanese proverb that says that The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step.

Who’s on for this challenge? What is your goal? What first baby step will you take towards it?

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