The holiday season is filled with promises, presents, and resolutions. It’s a perfect time to consider the changes you’d like to make in your daily life… but how do you get started when change seems too difficult? Thankfully, there’s an old-school claymation Christmas classic that’s got the perfect solution.
It’s hard to beat the Rankin and Bass stop motion holiday specials. While they are filled with excellent music and animation, this is one of the most poignant and forgotten songs in the bunch: Put One Foot in Front of the Other
Winter Warlock: “I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart, you know. It’s so difficult to… [sigh] really change.”
Kris Kringle: “Difficult? [chuckles] Why, why look here. Changing from bad to good’s as easy as…taking your first step.”
Now, this guy the Winter Warlock as some serious issues. But look at his turmoil a little more closely – and here’s where R&B really do their thing as story tellers – and you see an incredibly relatable dilemma. He wants to be something else. But instead of moving toward that goal, he’s living in the agony of wanting something and not going for it. Sound familiar?
Now, maybe you haven’t doomed people to a toy-less life in a frozen wasteland, and maybe you’re not a tyrannical old man in the mountains. But stop me if this starts to sound familiar:
- Feel like you ought to have more energy, but not knowing what that might feel like
- Being tired and headachey all day, but grabbing extra caffeine instead of changing the way you sleep
- Wishing you had a skill, but deciding that getting it is too much of an investment
- Sitting around bored or lonely, but too uncomfortable approaching new people or new activities
In a shocking turn of events for a holiday movie, Santa has an answer: Take a step.
A teeny, tiny step in the direction you want to move costs very little.
Maybe you want to have more confidence. Maybe you want to run your own company. Maybe you want to be a good public speaker. Maybe you want to approach the day more rested and relaxed. Maybe you want a flexible schedule to spend more time on the people and activities you love.
But all that is just a dream that’s far away! In reality it’s just so… so difficult to… [sigh] really change.
Lots of people say “just start!” …and that can feel impossible.
“Just start” sounds like “Just become an astronaut” or “Just make 10 million people value and respect you.” These goals are huge, and there’s no road map to get to them. Starting can feel pointless or frightening – even sickening. That’s why plenty of people will never, ever do it.
“If you want to change your direction,
If your time of life is at hand,
Well, don’t be the rule, be the exception
A good way to start is to stand.”
Starting is small. Why does it feel big?
Starting is a way of declaring what you want, and that can be scary on its own. Starting is about the declaration, not about immediate results – so give yourself a break and pick something little. It’s not cinematic, and it doesn’t need to be a huge, life changing turning point. Maybe it’ll seem that way someday in the future when you’re writing your memoirs about how awesome you’ve become, but right now it can be something little. It can even feel dumb, like flossing a single tooth to get into the habit of flossing. Want to be a writer? Write a sentence, and hit save. Want to be a runner? Walk around the block. Actually want to be an astronaut? Print out the requirements, and tape them up where you’ll see them every day.
Sure you’ll want to do more than that. That’s the whole point! You’re putting yourself on a path you actually want to walk down.
Winter: “If I want to change the reflection I see in the mirror each morn…”
Kris: “Oh, you do?”
Winter: “You mean that it’s just my election?”
Kris: “Just that!”
Winter: “To vote for a chance to be reborn? Woo-hoo!”
See that? We even get a “Woo-hoo” from the grumpy, evil, Winter Warlock himself. Why? Because he doesn’t have to wake up tomorrow an entirely different, perfect person. All he has to do is make up his mind to take a step toward that goal.
Starting isn’t playing your first concert. It’s not even impressing your music teacher. Starting is finding your local music shop and walking in the door.
The work of starting is taking a first step toward something you want.
The result of starting is moving yourself in the direction of your choice.
Tangible results don’t have to be impressive – the impressive stuff is your decision to change directions and explore the possibility of a way of living you’ll like more. It can be a print out or a single sentence or a business card or a walk. Too often we assume that starting something new means we’ll have to produce impressive results right away, but change is really about moving toward the thing you want. The crucial element is getting yourself in motion toward the thing that you want to pursue. Once you get the ball rolling, the results will come.
I’ll let father Christmas himself bring this one home:
“You never will get where you’re going
If ya never get up on your feet.
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowin’
A fast walking man is hard to beat.
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walking ‘cross the floor
And soon… you’ll be walking… out the door!”