You know the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. Funny, yes. True, absolutely. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that genius lies more in hard work than DNA, saying that 10,000 hours is the magic number for success whether you're playing flawless Chopin or writing groundbreaking computer code.
How To Transform Your Life: Step By Step
The point is that it takes many little steps to prepare for a big one. This holds true when you're reinventing your life. Until I wrote a book on the subject, I didn't really believe that taking little steps could prepare you for bigger ones. To me, reinvention was more like bungee jumping: you stand out on the platform, it's terrifying, somebody counts five-four-three-two-one-go, and you either do or you don't.
Interviewing 45 women and men who'd transformed their lives, I began to understand that it's smarter to wade into the shallows than jump into the deep end of the pool. Do something that's a little hard, somewhat scary, and when you succeed, you'll be better equipped to attempt a bigger, even more intimidating thing.
It makes perfect sense. You don't start kayaking in white water. You learn the basics on a placid lake; when you've got the paddling technique down and you know how to strip off the skirt and escape the boat if you overturn, you're ready to learn to dance on the rapids.
Boosting Your Confidence: Accomplish Something That's Tough
So, how do you break a life change down into doable steps? Try something that isn't the full-fledged change. If you're yearning to go back to school for another degree, take a course and see how well being a student suits you. If you want to start a business, see if you can take a leave of absence rather than quitting your job to develop your idea, or apprentice yourself to someone you can learn from offering your time in exchange for her expertise.
If it's fear rather than lack of skills and experience that's holding you back, you have a wider world of possibilities. You can boost your enthusiasm for life change in a variety of ways – accomplishing anything that scares you can do the trick. Run a half-marathon. Raft the Grand Canyon. Give a speech. Run for the school board. Succeeding at any of these things will make the next tough thing that much easier to do.