Smaller Can Be Better


Back when I was studying yoga, my teacher told us a story about a student who found it very difficult to sit in hero’s pose, a pose which is pretty darn painful if you have short or tight quadriceps.

He told us that in order to improve, his student began sitting on a telephone book while in the pose, and each day he’d remove one whisper-thin page from that fat telephone book, until, eventually, his “sit bones”  were on the floor.

I was so fascinated by this story.

Partly because of his patience and willingness to address something that hard with teeny incremental steps over a long stretch of time; and partly because of the successful result of that strategy. I wasn’t sure I had that in me.

However, this year I started a regular morning meditation practice which has actually been an experience of doing something hard with very incremental “results” coming slowly over time. (My “drunken monkey mind”, it seems, takes a while to settle down.)

My very incremental meditation “improvements” got me thinking about my yoga teacher’s story again. (Well, that, and the longer my meditation sessions become, the more aware I am of the tightness of my leg muscles when I’m done, which in turn gets me thinking about how I wished I’d get back to doing yoga again.)

Fantasy Meets Reality

I stopped going to yoga quite a while ago because one month at my gym was almost the same price as one yoga class, and I told myself I’d just do the yoga on my own at home.

Well, that didn’t happen and I’m soooooo much tighter than I used to be.

But my good intentions/fantasies of doing yoga on the nights that I don’t go to gym just haven’t happened. Why?


  • I feel so “behind” now
  • I know how much it’ll hurt at the beginning to do it
  • and I’ll be keenly aware of how much better I used to be at it.

Sound familar? (Insert making art, drawing, keeping a sketchbook, knitting, or whatever you want to get back to doing or imagine starting, but aren’t yet.)

This week I came up with a solution to this problem that I realized translates well to many of the challenges we face here on the blog as well.

One Minute A Day

I have now started doing a one minute stretch of my hamstrings (my particular nemesis) every day. I even got my husband to join me. One minute a day is 365 minutes of stretching over the course of a year. That’s waaaay more stretching than I did last year.

And since that stretch really hurts, so far, one minute is about all I can take. I use a timer, and check it at least 3 times during that minute to see if it broke or something!

Here’s the beauty of it too–it’s so damn doable. Let’s say I stop for a while for whatever reason. It’s a really easy goal to start up again. One minute is an easy horse to get back on.

Making Goals Achievable

The reason I’m sharing this here, is to invite you to consider how you can make some of your wishes/wistful goals about making things smaller, so that you can actually do them.

Why? Because smaller =achievable.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know about my 20 minute timer technique which I love-love-love and use all the time. That technique might be a great place to start. But it’s important that you keep it doable.

What do I mean? I mean, don’t take that nice friendly 20 minute idea and turn it into something mean and hard to do, like deciding from now on you’re going to work on your art journal 20 minutes every day.

Why? Because that’s a set up. It’s really hard for any busy person to do anything every single day. (Okay, unless it’s one minute of stretching, but that’s because it’s ONE MINUTE!)

So make it smaller.

For instance, if it’s been a long time since you made anything, instead of every single day, how about 20 minutes once a week? That gives you seven days to figure out where you’re going to carve out 20 minutes. Doable.

If you bead kind of regularly, but wish it happened more often, a goal of making a piece of jewelry every week is probably too vague and, therefore, too big; but maybe deciding to make a pair of earrings each week isn’t–earrings are smaller than necklaces and bracelets. See what I mean?

Whatever idea you come up with, ask yourself if you can make it a little smaller so that you can actually do it.


If you try this, you’ll see it does more for you than just help you achieve that particular goal.

It also creates a scenario where you’re not beating yourself up (that would be a nice change!) because you’ve created a situation where you’re kindly meeting yourself where you are with a structure that helps you.

Which in turn gets you creating again (or a whole lot closer).

When you start doing whatever it is you haven’t been able to do before, you’ll see other changes in the way you feel about yourself and your making, as well as notice that you’re thinking more about the process of creating, aesthetic ideas, etc. And since these are some of your favorite thoughts–well, yay! More happiness and feelings of satisfaction.

You know you like to make things and that you feel really good when you’re creating. It’s just hard to figure out how to find the time and to live with where you are about it. This quiet, unassuming little technique just might help!

What do you think? Do you have any ideas of mini-goals you could set and actually do? I’d love it if you’d share them here or, if that’s too public, drop me a line here!

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  1. Brooke says:

    You need to write a book on the Zen of Crafting or something — you have wonderful wisdom!!

  2. violette says:

    This is totally AMAZING……i agree with Brooke…….you might want to write a book on zen of crafting! I just posted it on facebook.

    On another note….my ex-husband is a yoga teacher and has written a book on Yin yoga…..he would definitely encourage you to get out and take a class….i’m in the same place as you are though……haven’t gone for over a year and moving in the postures really hurts… steps…….baby steps. I call it “how do you eat an elephant?” One step at a time of course! I think i’ll have to put a timer on my xmas list now. Thanks!

    Love, Violette xo

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks Brooke & Violette! Violette, it’s so true, one step at a time–if you keep looking at the whole elephant, it’s totally overwhelming!

  4. [...] I’m going to start small to keep it doable–maybe noticing and matching my negative thoughts with a positive thought [...]

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