Celebrating Little Steps

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

Every significant, major change that we have made in our lives has been the result of a long series of small changes.

  • Quitting smoking started by not lighting up that next cigarette.
  • Losing weight began by turning down one more spoonful.
  • Decluttering your home started by removing one unnecessary item from your home.
  • Getting out of debt started by pursuing one less thing to purchase.
  • Starting a business began with one small decision or idea.
  • Saving your marriage started with the realization that it was worth saving.
  • Parenting your children began the day you chose to love them more than yourself.

Our lives are not measured by the leaps and bounds as much as they are measured by the little steps and decisions that we make each day.

But in this world of fast food, instant downloads, get-rich-quick schemes, Twitter streams, and never-ending media hype, those standing at the finish line often receive the praise… while those on their journey are often overlooked. Or even worse yet, those on the journey long for the finish line at the expense of the little steps that must be taken to get there. The prize at the finish line dangles precariously… and the number of steps between here and there is rarely counted accurately.

We must adjust our thinking. It is entirely appropriate to praise those who have successfully completed positive life change, but we must also celebrate those still on their journey. Each step forward is worthy of celebration. And when we see it in our lives or in the lives of others, we must call it what it is – a victory worthy of celebration.

  • The father who comes home and picks up his child rather than the remote control deserves celebration.
  • The alcoholic who chooses to attend one more AA meeting deserves celebration.
  • The husband drowning in debt who packs a lunch for work deserves celebration.
  • The consumer-driven wife who chooses to not buy that extra pair of shoes deserves celebration.
  • The thief who earns his first honest dollar deserves celebration.
  • The woman struggling with her weight that chooses to take the stairs deserves our celebration.
  • The anorexic who eats a full meal deserves our celebration.
  • The wealthy man who writes his first check to charity (no matter the amount) deserves our celebration.
  • The sexaholic who admits that lust has become an addiction and needs help deserves celebration.
  • The hoarder who cleans one drawer deserves celebration.
  • The family on brink of divorce that unselfishly sits down at the kitchen table to finally talk it over deserves celebration.

We are a people in need of grace. We are a people in need of patience. And we are a people in need of encouragement. Let’s be quick to celebrate the little steps in both our lives and the lives of those around us. Because life is only fully-lived in the little moments and the big.

Image: Robb North

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Your simple post gives us yet another reason to celebrate life during this wonderful time of year. Life is all about choices and each one we make affects ourselves and the world around us. We are all connected.

  2. sharle kinnear says

    Very well put! We too often look only at the milestones, without realizing the many small steps it took to walk that mile – especially the first mile. Peace to you . . .

  3. Laura says

    You have written so well what I have believed for years. It’s always the big wins, or big losses that are remembered or that seem to count. You are always remembered for the last bad thing you have done or the crossing of the finish line first. We need to celebrate everyone for who they are and for every step they take towards the positive. Making your way in this world is not easy, but made more lovely if oneself and others can celebrate the little steps taken along the way.
    I am saving your post to look back upon…thank you.

  4. says

    I’m loving this quote “We are a people in need of grace. We are a people in need of patience. And we are a people in need of encouragement. Let’s be quick to celebrate the little steps in both our lives and the lives of those around us. Because life is only fully-lived in the little moments and the big” !! So many times we wait until a project is completed or a major change has taken place to aware our praises. But, a bit of encouragement along the road may just be the one thing that keeps those ‘little’ things happening, which eventually result in a complete transformation!

  5. Ash says

    Thank you for writing this – it sent chills in me. I’m anorexic (have been for 15 years now) and this week was my first time eating normal food for 6 months (I have been eating things to gain weight for 6 months). No one watching what I eat and still no diet, no cheating, no nothing – I have been in recovery for years (with relapses, like everyone else) but I am committed and now I have taken my first steps towards a happy, healthy relationship with food. I have felt like I shouldn’t celebrate since it’s not “good enough” (e.g I’m not recovered) but this post made me really feel proud that I am doing this hard work. So thank you again.

  6. says

    I am loving this post!!!!
    Thank you for recognizing and encouraging the importance of the journey. Goals and end results are important but a lot of the time, the journey is not given enough significance. I’m all about small steps leading to a balanced and consistent lifestyle change. Diving in works for some people and would probably work for me too but small steps can be just as productive and life changing. Right now, I appreciate and notice the chain reaction of every small step I take to further positive outcomes. I am loving the journey!

  7. says

    Goals can be so counter-productive. Rather than getting upset about how far away I am from a goal, I share your view in celebrating and being happy with the daily baby steps. Instead of having a goal of getting out of debt, each moment when the opportunity for a choice arises, I ask myself, “What would a person with no debt choose?” and I make that choice. Trying to manage weight (bravo Ash!!)? Ask yourself, “What would a healthy person choose?” Forget about the end result and how close or far away you are. You’ll get there by making daily choices this way and the journey is a lot more fun and full of little celebrations!

  8. says

    I struggle with my weight. Even though I am not actively trying to lose at the moment, I applaud myself every time I choose water over a soda. Or when I say NO to an iced coffee (which I drink VERY sweet). Or when I get a salad instead of fries. Or when I have a fruit popsicle before bed instead of a bowl of ice cream. These things may seem small, but when added up, they will make a difference and when I do make major adjustments, these will be the foundation I can build upon.
    Thanks for such an awesome post, Joshua!

  9. says

    My journey began after many losses of loved ones. Aslo, in taking care of/spending time with loved ones in their latter years or in their last hours~in spending more time with family, my heart yearned to see how I became ‘me’. That may sound odd, but my ‘minimalizing’ began in minimalizing within my heart. Therefore, so many ‘things’ that I had accumulated became easier to let go of. Instead of, “Oh, this was Moms’ “, I began the thinking process of what Mom would have liked to see done with her things. So, likewise, with so many other things. For me, it had to begin in my heart to carry over to my home. We are talking major pack rat here! In looking to move to another place, we could actually do with a lot less square footage without missing the space, once I have accomplished minimalizing….. I had no idea, but the freedom that comes with this………

  10. says

    There is such hope in what you have written. Celebrating the small steps toward bigger goals gives us hope, and hope feeds courage to keep on making those good choices day by day. Thanks for dispensing grace through your words. We ARE a people in need of grace – for ourselves and for each other – to dispel hopelessness and paralysis. One small step…. leads to another.

  11. says

    As always, great post Joshua!

    It big time connects with this video: http://www.liveitforward.com/take-a-step-a-key-to-success-in-setting-goals/

    And as I like to say, “BIG is Little and Little is BIG” (this principle works either way…best to make it work for us instead of against us): http://www.liveitforward.com/big-is-little-and-little-is-big/

    Love what you’re promoting here, Joshua! Will definitely trackback. In fact, can I post part of it on my site and link back to here?

  12. says

    This is an inspirational little piece. I’ve been “simplifying” for awhile now, and I still have piles of papers and things to go through. Like when I do a weight loss program, I find that if I remember to take it day by day or even hour by hour, I feel more successful and am more empowered to continue than when I look at the “big picture.” In this kind of thing, it’s so much easier to meet small goals and celebrate small victories.

    Merry Christmas to you!

  13. Linda says

    WOW! so simple but profound! We as a society are so quick to be critical of others.
    It is only by God’s grace that we are even alive, so we need to give grace to others.
    We are ALL in someplace in our live where we need to have grace extended to us.
    I have always heard, give away what you need and it will come back to you~
    Bless you for your posts. I used your humility post as a lesson for the kids that are incarcerated, and that are being charges as adults. The class is called Character First! I use simplicity, but it becomes profound in their lives.

  14. ds says

    I’ve been taking big steps and little steps at drug abuse recovery and being a better dad for three years and I still hate myself and feel like shit almost everyday. So fuck you and your celebrations, Becker. Happy New Year, asshole.

  15. says

    “Celebrate the little steps in both our lives and the lives of those around us.”

    So true, to often I get stuck in the rut of worry and in remembering this I see whats really true, thank you.

  16. Nancy says

    Thanks for a very compassionate and wise article. It is so encouraging to be told that all seemingly insignificant actions matter so much.

    Enjoying your writing so much.

  17. Shelley says

    I really, really like the sentiment of your post — everything we are is a series of choices, and we should all celebrate the good choices, even tiny ones. It really is true that the greatest of journeys begin with one step.

    I almost hesitate to mention this, but you have a father coming home from work, a husband going to work with a lunch, and a wealthy man, but no working women; a “consumer-driven wife” and a woman struggling with her weight. To me, these words reinforce gender stereotypes in a way that I’m sure you don’t intend; they could potentially obscure the meaning of your otherwise beautiful, gender-neutral post.

  18. maria says

    I like this because, when we are so overwhelmed and look at the mountain of mess, we see the mountain and feel defeated. However, looking at each piece, or small step we realize that little by little, we can have victory!

    thank you

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