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A big change starts with little steps

Years and years ago I was on a holiday. It was quite an active holiday. At one point the group walked from the riverbed up a mountain (it probably was what the locals would call a hill, but for someone from the low countries it definitely looked like a mountain).

I stood at the bottom of it. I looked up.

And thought 'I'll never make it'.

Of course there was no alternative transport so there was nothing for it. I put one foot in front of the other. And made it up the hill a good while later.

OK, so the reality was that I puffed and spluttered myself up the hill in 40 degrees heat, sweating and red-headed.

But the important thing was - II did it! Putting one step in front of the other. Counting in fours (it's my favourite number, no other reason in particular). Even overtaking a couple in front of me, which made me ridiculously pleased with myself. Yay for me!)

Now, lately I've been noticing something. Not exactly a trend. But interesting nonetheless.

It's that people are having this 'all or nothing' approach to careers.

Great sweeping statements. Grand gestures. 'I want to make my career out of my hobby, nothing else will do' - type of approach.

Making things get so bad that only chucking in your career and starting all over again will do.


And then there are the people who see this mountain ahead of them and never get started with anything.

That sometimes the task is so big that you get paralysed into inaction.

You do nothing, because if you can't do it all, why bother even making a start?

It's this all-or-nothing approach that connects all of the above. It's this approach that I believe is not helpful at all.

You see, if I had stood at the bottom of that hill with that approach I would never have got started. And would have to stay where I was.

If you are not even going to bother starting, you'll never get anywhere.

If you're not willing to take that first step - even if you don't know where you'll end up - it's very unlikely you'll take the one after that and the one after that.

It probably sounds weird coming from me.

But I believe that every career or job will come with its own set of challenges.

Even if you get paid the money you're worth, you get fantastic benefits, the organisation's values align with your own, you get to use your strengths, you feel you're making a difference.

Even then you still have challenges to face, people to deal with, your own flaws as a human being to overcome.

I think life - and your career - is a lifelong dedication to keep on making small steps.

One, after another, after another. In your personal life, and in your career.

Tiny little steps. Reflection. And tiny little steps again.

A dedication to overcome life's challenges. As long as what you're doing is worth overcoming those challenges.

In service of personal and professional growth, in service of making a difference to others. With your happiness as the guiding light.

That's what I think.


Tineke Tammes is an ICF accredited Career Coach, who supports creative, multi-passionate, professional women in making successful career transitions! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

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