Baby steps are the key to successful change

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

When you want to change anything about your job, practice, career or life ... and fear or uncertainty stops you ...

Your are contemplating a step that is TOO BIG.

In psychology it is called "telescoping". Here is an example.

If you wanted to walk from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the opposite rim - on the trail that goes down and through and up the other side of the gorge (it's a thing...) - you would not try to do it in a single step. You would not attempt to leap from the south rim and expect make it all the way to the north rim. It would be scary (and most likely, fatal) to make that attempt.

This is telescoping. Looking from where you are to where you want to be (like you are peering through a telescope), noticing the huge distance and giving up before you start. It's such a long way. I will never make it. 

NOTICE: If you don't try to leap the whole canyon in a single bound, there is a trail that takes you the whole way. You just have to take regular old steps, one at a time.

Telescoping is when you think about a big goal, notice the distance from where you are to where you want to be, and fear motivates you to give up. 

This fear is also a clear sign to take a different approach

That goal IS attainable.

You just can't do it in a single step

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Whenever the goal is big and the step you are contemplating brings up fear, intimidation, imposter syndrome ...

"I'll never be able to do that"

"I don't even know how to get started"

"I am too (old, shy, stupid, clumsy, unqualified, slow ......) to make this happen"

You are Telescoping.

Look down at your feet and plan A SMALLER STEP.


Shrink that action down to small enough to be comfortable - as long as it is pointing in the direction of the change you want to make - and take it.

Make it an honest baby step ... so small, you have no hesitation and know you will hit it out of the park.

  • Celebrate
  • Learn
  • Plan another baby step
  • Take it
  • Repeat the cycle


I work with doctors. One of their change habits is to always think only of the big hairy audacious step - or the cut-to-the-chase, one-step solution. When they give themselves permission to take a baby step, it is such a relief and a different approach to life. And doctors are smart and hard working and driven ... so one baby step leads to another in quick succession and progress is sometimes a complete surprise given how stuck they felt at the start. 

Try it for yourself.

What is one change you are thinking about that feels big ... when you make this change it would be a real step forward ... something you keep putting on the back burner?

  • Look down at your feet. What is one baby step you could take in that direction? One tiny step, you could complete - maybe even today - that would nudge you in the direction you want to go. 
  • Take it. 
  • What did you learn?
  • What's the next baby step?
  • When will you take that one?

Our Physician Coaches are HERE
If you would like some support in your change effort
Book a FREE Discovery Session to Get Started




What is the change you want to make?

What difference did your baby step make to your confidence that this change is actually possible?




Physician life change coaching


Tags: stop physician burnout