One of my favorite movies has to be What About Bob? starring Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray. Fans of the film will remember Bob Wiley, a neurotic, compulsive individual who seeks out the advice and care of Dr. Leo Marvin. The title of Dr. Marvin’s book that he gives to Bob is called Baby Steps – with the idea that anything is manageable and possible if you take baby steps.
Baby steps are important in our everyday life. Whether it be pursuing a degree, saving for retirement or even trying to change or break a habit – you need to take it one step at a time in order to achieve the goal. And sometimes, just moving forward even at a snail’s pace is progress.
Take saving money for example. Some people may think it’s tough to save, especially if they fill their budget is tight enough already. But these people can try baby steps. Even starting out very modestly at a dollar a month adds up to $12 per year saved. Granted we’re not looking at buying a second home in retirement with this, but it’s $12 saved they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Need to get up earlier in the day? Try setting your alarm one minute early each day for 30 days. By taking baby steps you’ll have an extra 30 minutes at the end of a month. How about starting to exercise? Try walking around the block for a few weeks, then gradually try jogging around the block, the next couple of blocks and pretty soon you’re running a mile – nonstop.
I think you get the point – start small, but start. If you have an IRA or employer sponsored plan like a 401(k) start saving 1% per paycheck – then gradually increase that over time. Have a bad habit of spending money on lunch and coffee every day? Start small – pack a lunch and bring a thermos one day a week. If you like the extra money in your pocket, you can choose to do it more regularly.
By taking baby steps toward your goals you’ll be able to look back at the leap you’ve made from where you first began.