Part Two | Strengths and Increments: Why Thinking Small is Key to Living Large

StepByStepLifeEDITFebruary 3, 2016

5 Ideas, 3 Questions, and an Action

Five Ideas

Thinking about our goals in terms of their finished products can be overwhelming, confusing, and stifling because it is impossible to envision all the steps required to achieve something.

Imagine telling a child that one of the main goals in life is to stay alive, and in order to stay alive they’ll need to eat food several times a day, everyday, for the rest of their life. Without much life experience, this might seem like a pretty grim proposal—after all, based on what most children know of life, they might think, “How will I get to the store? Where will I keep my food? What if I run out? Where will I get money? What if I am not hungry?”

What they don’t understand is that all of these details get sorted out along the way in real-time increments. Right? We don’t need to see the entire interstate before driving on it, we just need to see the area directly in front of us—the rest gets revealed as we go.

Fact is, we grow and change as we move toward a goal, we evolve in real-time as we put the effort in, which means that we are able to do things in the middle of our journey that we could not do at the beginning. So, it is unwise to base our future potential on our present perceptions.

Teaching ourselves to focus on the next step as opposed to the last step is a skill that can mean the difference between starting and not-starting down paths of personal greatness and achievement.


Three Questions

Do I sabotage myself by thinking about all the details and the “hows” instead of thinking about the next step?

Has there been a time when I have thought something would be impossible and now looking back it feels like child’s play?

What is my true potential as a person? As a friend? As a partner? As a worker? As an artist? As a thinker? As an activist? As a human?


An Action

Desired Result: Practice Taking Action in Increments

Concrete Action: Growing a list is a great way to see the power and practicality of thinking small and building something in steady increments. The thought of making a list with 365 important items on it might seem like too much for one sitting. However, when spread out over the course of a year—adding one item per day—it’s more than manageable. So, tape a piece of paper to the fridge and write Gratitude List at the top. Everyday, add one person, place, or thing that you are grateful for. Not only will the list grow steadily and honestly, but you will be forced to look at a gratitude list every day, which does wonders for our personal psychology!

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

Circle Photo

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Strengths Consultant.

Connect with him:


Twitter: @zstrengthslife

Facebook: Zachary Carlsen


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