People often ask me one (very) good question, and sometimes it can be hard to narrow down the single specific answer they’re looking for. But when I’m asked:
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There is always one piece of advice that stands out as unconditionally true, no matter what you’re talking about. This advice works for your career, your relationships, your YouTube channel, your life — but no one ever wants to hear it.
That advice is: start small.
It seems too easy, right? It feels entirely too approachable, like something has to be missing. But in life, advice isn’t the only thing you need. In order to reach success, you’ve gotta have ambition. You’ve gotta have work ethic. You’ve gotta have the drive to push you towards your goals. But that may leave you wondering, how will I ever reach my goals if I’m starting small?
The Problem with Starting “Small”
Of course you want to reach your goals, but you also want to follow the advice that will supposedly get you there. So you ask someone for advice, and they tell you to start small. You think about it, you thank them, and you find yourself thinking: “sure, I’ll start ‘small.’ Meaning I’m gonna start way big, but in a small kind of way, right?”
Then, you hit the ground running. You dig into that work and you’re doing big things (but still ‘small’, ya know?). You’re excited, you’re motivated, you’re taking steps that will lead you towards greatness, but you’re not realizing just how big those steps are.
You think you’re starting small. But you’re cramming your days full of tasks and to-do’s, you’re exhausted and stressed from the start, but you believe that since you’re making small progress, you must have started small.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
When you go so hard so fast in such a small amount of time, you’re running the risk of burning yourself out. Burnout is the thing that will hinder your progress, leading you to believe that you’ve only made a tiny step forward, when in reality you could’ve slowed down from the start and made much bigger leaps along the way. It leads to discouragement, and too much discouragement can lead you to quit altogether.
You wanted to avoid starting small so you could impress the people rooting for you, right? But burning yourself out and falling off the wagon isn’t the most impressive way to go either.
It is okay to start small. Really small.
How to Actually Start Small
Picture this: you’re building an online store.
Not a brick and mortar storefront, no construction necessary. You and your laptop are seated at the kitchen table and you’re building your own online shop. You can see it now — beautiful design, hundreds of products, bringing in revenue day after day. But all you have in front of you now is a blank page.
This is where you start small.
Before you dive head first into big projects, recognize that this journey is a long one. When you’ve got big goals, it takes work and time and effort to reach those goals in a rewarding way. I dreamt of owning my online shop for years but got so overwhelmed by the length of the journey that I hesitated and never made progress. Until I did.
The progress I made in the beginning was (you guessed it) small. Very small. It came in the form of asking a designer for their rates. Of finding the right platform. Of picking out the colors. Those baby steps that only took a few moments and didn’t necessarily feel like progress are what moved the needle for me in a big way. Instead of spending hours and hours crafting a website in one go, I took my time. I did the work in small steps so I could stay excited and motivated. Instead of looking back on a tiny amount of progress and huge amount of burnout, I looked back at time well spent, progress made, and a mindset that’s constantly ready to move forward.
You’ve gotta stop working to impress the people around you, because you’re only adding unnecessary stress to your journey. You think you’re playing small, but it’s all in your head. No one knows the work you’re putting in except you.
Remember: you are never playing small when you’re going after the life you want.
I took those baby steps and ended up with a fully functional, beautiful online store with a product that continuously sells out — all because I started small. I didn’t rush myself. I took my time, and it paid off. Baby steps accumulate to something big every single time if you can just find the patience to stick with them.
This journey to success is a long one. Start small, keep your stamina up, and you’ll make it there in no time.
QOTD: What are you gonna do to start small today?