Ode to Turtle Steps


Re-defining my coaching business, creating a new website, writing a book, running my Mind-Body Coach Training, and being the Life Coach Training Coordinator for Martha Beck, Inc is kind of a lot. In fact, as I write that list, I realize I haven’t actually considered how much is going on in my work life. I might need a nap now.

Here’s the small problem with following your passion: it’s easy to fill your passion plate until it resembles a Thanksgiving feast. I am so in love with what I do that I am constantly getting new ideas. I literally have enough ideas right now to fill the next five years. I have audio/video courses I want to make, more books I want to write, classes I want to give, trainings I want to run…and on and on.

I even get ideas for other people. I am an idea factory. And when I get an idea, I make it a reality. So you can expect that after my book is done, I’ll be whipping up that first audio/video course, just for you! (Need an idea? I’m sure I can whip one up for you!)

You would think that I’d be slightly crazy, overworked, and exhausted from doing all the things I’m doing. And yes, I do get tired. (But it’s a good tired. A satisfying, carpe-diem-happened-today tired.) Overall, though, I feel a constant sense of inspiration. I feel joy. I feel alive.

It’s kind of like falling in love every day.

So what’s the key to my sanity? A little thing called Turtle Steps. I learned them from Martha Beck when I first took Life Coach Training. Turtle Steps are tiny, teeny-weeny, ridiculously easy steps toward a goal. To create a Turtle Step, you look at your end goal, break up the steps toward achieving it, and then cut them in half. Then cut them in half again. Keep cutting them in half until they are so easy that you could do them in your sleep. Then, you start with the first easy Turtle Step.  Follow that with the next one. And the next. It might be just one Turtle Step per day, but you keep on trekking. Lo and behold – you accomplish your vision.

In my previous life, I did not use Turtle Steps. I focused on Scaling Mountains in a Single Bound as my primary action mode. Needless to say, that worked so well that I ended up flat on my back, in chronic pain, endlessly overwhelmed by the constant pressure I put on myself.

So in this moment, I’d just like to say congrats to myself for actually changing this mode of action. Learning to do Turtle Steps was a major achievement for me. I really thought that Scaling Mountains was better. Faster. More reliable. Until I realized Scaling Mountains was killing me. And that I often had trouble completing a goal because the mountain just seemed so darn big.

The truth is, I can get way more done by using Turtle Steps. Though tiny, they are so do-able. They accumulate quickly. Before you know it, there you are, at the finish line!

In creating my new website, I decided I wanted to write a free ebook for anyone who dropped by to visit. Then, being me, I decided a short little ebook wasn’t going to do it. I wanted the book to be jam-packed with helpful information. So the little ebook grew and grew. Until I realized it was actually a book-book. In the end, I essentially found myself with several mountains worth of writing projects – writing the copy for the new site, writing the book, writing the audio/video course I’m working on, and writing scripts for videos I wanted to create.

Yet, in just a few short months, it’s all nearly done. The videos have been shot. The website copy is done. The book is in final editing mode. Looking back, I can hardly believe it’s all happened so quickly. I owe it to Turtle Steps.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed today, take a moment to break up your to-do’s into ridiculously easy pieces. (And don’t cheat on this step! Really make the Turtle Steps EASY!) Do one. Check it off. Feel a sense of accomplishment. Congratulate yourself. Repeat. You’ll be amazed at how much faster things get done even as you feel so much less overwhelmed. Stop Scaling Mountains. Your body will thank you, your mind will feel rested, and your soul will sing.

And…stay tuned. The new website and book are coming soon!

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8 Responses to Ode to Turtle Steps

  1. Diane Hunter January 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Such an inspiration…to creation!!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing and showing us how it’s done. You so live it to give it baby!

  2. Francesca January 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Fabulous! Exactly what I needed to read today. I’m going to try this out.

    • Abigail January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      Here’s to turtles, everywhere! 🙂

  3. Fernanda January 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    My mind and body are happy now:) one turtle step done:)

  4. nancy January 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    SO SO excited to see all the new creations you have for us! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. stephanie t. vance January 26, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    we had a game on the grade school play ground where the leader would call out, “take one giant step”, then our line was allowed to do that, fudging as much as possible to cross open spaces. then leader would say, “three baby steps”, and the line would copy that order. our goal was to be the first one across open space to be the next leader.
    if the leader caught someone slipping up a bit on a giant step, he/she was sent back to the start line.
    funny thing happneed; if one took baby steps, it was just as possible to be first at the finish line! no leaps, slides, lunges, just baby steps.
    easy for me to ID with the idea of turtle steps as “baby steps”
    just a memory of something that worked for a short person competing with big kids…
    love n.

  6. Anu January 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    So inspirational!!! Thank you.

  7. Magali January 27, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Abigail, every time you write a post, it’s exactly what I need to read. Yes, the tendency to look at a mountain is so true. Turtle steps help to be more confident.

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