In Praise of Baby Steps – A Surefire Way to Break Through the Paralysis of Analysis

If you’ve been with us for a little bit, you know that the primary objective of our work here at Life After Tampons is to help women implement the answer to this question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”


If you read that first paragraph too quickly, you might have skipped over the most important word – or at least the one that feels most important to me to share with you today.

A lot of people think the most important word is “what.” That’s usually because, by the time a woman gets to mid-life she might have lost track of herself and then have no clue what “what” would be.

But the problem with making the “what” question the most important one, is that it comes with the risk of analysis paralysis. The danger is that it is so easy for a woman to get caught up in the “process” of answering that question – via research, exploration, and the like – that she never gets to actually launch anything new.

And, if you have even the slightest trace of perfectionism to your personality, you are even more vulnerable to the problem of thinking versus doing.

So —

The word I want to talk about today is “IMPLEMENT.”

Our goal here at LAT is to IMPLEMENT – to create change, make waves, shake things up, take that first step, lace up your shoes, jump in the deep end, register for that race, buy that plane ticket, write that book today.

THIS is the ideal day to ride the pony, enter your blackberry jam at the fair, audition for the local play, throw a pot, make a dinner party, hold a fundraiser for your favorite candidate – hell — BE the candidate.

This IS THE DAY, beautiful you, to MAKE a noise, make a ruckus – IMPLEMENT some change in your life.

It’s so easy to fall back into what we know, even if it doesn’t serve us.

Here’s something many of us know – strategic planning.

Strategic planning murders dreams.

It shouldn’t, because it’s an awesome tool. The problem with it is that we women, when it comes to CHANGING OUR OWN ACTUAL LIVES, get lost in planning and never get to the doing.

Or we start doing and we are so hyper-vigilant watching outcomes that we wrongly suppose we are off-target and pull the plug on the dream before it has a real chance to get off the ground (that one’s one of my particular favorites.)

Today, I’m suggesting we take a different approach.

This one:

What if — just for today — you just began where you are right now? What if you didn’t have any plan at all, except for this – “Today I plan to approach my day with a spirit of exploration. I’m going to try one new thing today and see how that feels. I’m also going to let go of one thing that I don’t want to do.”

That’s it.

And then, just go about your regular old day.

Do your one new thing and let go of your one sucky thing. Neither one has to be very big – but it’s certainly okay if they are.

Here’s where we get to the magic.

Because guess what, buttercup, tomorrow we are going to do the exact same thing.

Tomorrow we’re going to wake up together (you in your town and me in mine) and we’re going to do one MORE new thing and let go of one MORE sucky thing.

That’s it. Say “yes” to one thing and say “no” to another.

No plan. No “what if” scenarios. No budget. No training. No great big block of time needed.


Just one “yes” and one “no.”

At first it won’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything at all. But here’s the thing – sweet cheeks – over time – and before you even know it – you’re going to be making bigger and bolder and badder ass moves because it FEELS SO GOOD to live your big beautiful life.

Once you’re ready to make a bolder move, THEN you can think about planning and resources and what not. Because THEN you will be so caught up in the joy of living, you won’t be able to imagine not doing the thing you want to do.

I want to help you. I want to SEE your big beautiful dream come alive. I want to HEAR the joy in your voice and FEEL the excitement of you giving your gift to the world. I want to coach you to your dream, so I’m launching a new Hot Flash Quick Start coaching service. (You can find out the details here.)

For today though, we begin. Right now. Implement something. And because we all need some accountability, let us know in the Wisdom Circle comments below what you tried, what you let go of, and how the whole thing felt.

We’re doing it together.

Love, Jennifer

Photo: Flickr, onetinyspark


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42 Responses to In Praise of Baby Steps – A Surefire Way to Break Through the Paralysis of Analysis

  1. Sharon Grimley says:

    Today, I did this! And I didn’t even know I was doing it until you told me about it…. “no” to a sucky thing that has had me bogged, and “yes” to taking a risk that was long overdue. Whether it pays off remains to be seen; if not, I am certainly no worse off, and definitely a braver more confident girl. If yes, the sky’s the limit! I am so proud of me today. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Okay, Sharon, now I am DYING of curiosity to know what action you took today. Don’t forget to let go of one sucky thing, too. That way we get to make more room for magic!!! Love, J

  2. Debi says:

    I’m not sure what I’m saying “yes” to today, but am saying “no” to the office mate who wants me to trade daily start/stop times simply because she wants mine. You know what … my “yes” is that I’m going to ask my boss to completely change my hours and work from home Friday morning and be able to start my weekend early every week !!!!! Time to go for it 🙂

  3. Chantal says:

    My “yes” will be taking 30 minutes to continue writing my book.

    And “no” to pressuring myself & worrying about things that can be done in the next few days, not necessarily today.

    Making it okay not to plan all the time is a relief…compared to what we’re told all the time!

  4. Nicole D. says:


  5. Colleen says:

    Love this, Jennifer! I am “the” example of analysis paralysis coupled with paralyzed by perfection!

    I’ve never been very good at baby steps, I’m so much better at just jumping in over my head! LOL! My “yes” for today is that I am going to start journaling every day, starting today! My “no” today is to stop over-analyzing the “idea” I have for starting a business and just do some research and brainstorming.


    • Jennifer says:

      Cool. Want to share what your business dream is all about???

    • Debi says:

      Is it possible for something to have more than one “poster child”? I have a feeling that there are several of us here who find ourselves paralyzed (from over analysis, perfectionism, fear, etc). The best thing about any group is the realization that “I’m not the only one” — then figuring out which steps (large or small) we need to take to move past whatever is keeping us from reaching our desires/dreams.

      • Jennifer says:

        Awesome. The Poster Child imagery is AWESOME. But now, and in THIS SPACE, we can be the Poster Women for killer LEGACIES!!!! Thank you, magically funny Debi!

  6. helen says:

    bash me please … i would so love to say “yes” but heck i don.t know how to do it

    what i did today: i went to a self help center to get rid of my depressions … i am so fed up and i just can.t handle myself anymore … so yes there is a no to a poor life!

  7. Lise F. says:

    How right you are, Jennifer!!
    The following is from my phone – something I wrote in January to help me keep going and remind me as often as possible HOW to keep going – that is right along these lines!:
    “I refuse to allow myself to become overwhelmed. Taking things ONE step at a time & NOT multitasking will enable me to 1. Accomplish more, 2. Focus, 3. Enjoy, and 4. Relax.”
    Of course, old habits die hard and I frequently forget. Thanks for keeping me on track!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Ah yes— multi-tasking. Remember when that was a skill you wanted?? Crazy! Great to hear your wisdom, beautiful Lise!!

  8. Patty D says:

    I’m saying “no” to the cupcakes that are sitting on the counter behind me and “yes” to the baby carrots that I packed for a lunch snack today 🙂

  9. Laura says:

    I said yes to writing — finishing — a screenplay about teens and mental health. Now I need to say yes to editing it. I wonder if anyone will want to produce it…but for now I’m just in the creative process.
    I say “no” to negative thoughts!!

  10. Joy says:

    Today, I am saying “Yes” to allowing myself to express myself creatively – it is not just something I want to do, I NEED to do this. And I am saying “No” to procrastination because I feel guilty, because it feels like it is wasting time.

    • Jennifer says:

      Don’t forget to say “no” to that procrastination guilt, too. It’s not a good long-term motivator. Just pick up one small thing — the smallest of the smalls — and say “yes” to it, too. No judging. NO slapping yourself into action. Just love. Peaceful bountious love all around you and your Great Work today. Love, Jennifer

  11. Georgia says:

    What a helpful voice this was for me today….so much craziness in my job and in my personal life and I run around like a chicken with her head cut off, trying desperately to make everything work out okay for everyone, but me! So I am going to take some babysteps today and say “no” to allowing other persons’ drama to become mine, and “yes” to asking the questions that need to be asked but no one wants to hear. “Yes ” to choosing myself and my loved ones first, and “no” to feeling any guilt about that. A start!

    • Jennifer says:

      AWESOME!!!!!!! Good for you, AND the people you love. Take a walk, too, and sip some chai, maybe. Small lovely things count ever so much. I hope you signed up for updates so we can stay in touch. We need you at the Wisdom Circle, babe.

  12. I recently learned to work sequentially and it really has helped not to become overwhelmed. Saying yes to one big project until it’s complete and then moving on to the next.

    And then consistency, small steps daily which is REALLY HARD. It feels like it’s not getting done fast enough and life is short. But without consistency, nothing gets completed at all. The consistency thing can get mundane, but then all of the sudden, one day you look up and you’re at the top of the mountain!

    So today, yes to the run and tomorrow, yes to a run again until I’m back to the “addiction” of running which I love.

    Thanks for bringing up such an important topic and please keep reminding us all of it!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi, Carin. Nice to hear from you again! Remember when we were younger and all those speakers were teaching multi-tasking? Turns out maybe it’s not so great after all. Or at least, maybe it’s not so sustainable at middle age. I’m trying that sequential thing too. And I still get lost in the middle of something.

      • I ran off for a few days to photograph the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska, 2 days driving each way, love the windshield time with hubby. and the birds were AMAZING!! and by the way…. yes, agreed! often multitasking sucks. I recently read the comment, “If you chase two rabbits you’ll catch neither!” Can totally relate to that…

  13. Great message. Sometimes I get excited about a project and try to take big life altering steps and stumble. But this is great reminder that those little steps can get me there too! More slowly but surely.

    • Jennifer says:

      OOOOH, me too. In fact,I’m reading a one month on line class today in — you guessed it — ONE day. Sometimes I just throw a crazy-ass project at myself to get some power learning in. But then I need to nap for two days!!!

  14. Bonnie says:

    I did this exercise for 30 days (I came up with it to see how it would feel to try something new everyday which meant conversely I was saying no to something else). I noted it daily in my journal and it opened a world of possibilities to me. I actually felt giddy some days doing something that was not the usual me. After reading your blog, it made me decide to do it again for another month and write down my daily thoughts. I believe it gave me the power to move forward in my nutrition business. Keep the blogs coming – great stuff! Just liked the FB LAT page – thank you for offering this great place!

  15. Cheryl Rac says:

    My do thing: Take a day of rest and restoration.
    My don’t thing: Go on errands with husband and son. I need rest.

    Results: I stayed in bed very late because my body needed it. After lunch, I took a long meditative rest. Then a long, hot bath. Then later, another long restorative rest. Ahhhhhh.

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  17. Thanks for the kick Jennifer.

    Week two of my running program in full swing (dripping sweat as I type, oops). Last week, I complete 80% of my week’s goal.

    I worked extremely hard to celebrate the 80% and not berate myself the 20%. That’s really really hard. And I think I only cursed my extra lbs twice on my running day off, (ok, maybe 3x).

    Keep on keepin’ on

  18. I’m still ‘life during tampons’, but I find your blog to be just as inspirational to me and am so happy to have stumbled across it via Girls Gone Moto (GGM).

    Reading your paralysis of analysis post made me think of my case with that on my completing my Masters Thesis. So my yes today is just to dive into that pool, head first. I have my thesis statement and some light research done, but I am over analyzing it thinking if that is the best option and after reading this post, I am just going to go with it! I already know it is a rocking thesis in my gut, so now I just need to put my brain where my gut is and forge ahead, a good thesis is done thesis, lol.

    And as for the saying no to a sucky thing … hmmm … Im very guilty of not not feeling “bad/frustrated/annoyed/overwhelmed/etc” emotions and trying to hide them or quickly divert my attention from them. In talking with the GGM girls, they told me that I need to try and feel these emotions, embrace it, and it will pass faster and move out of my system a lot faster than if I ignore them and thus allow them to pop up other days. So my “no” is going to be to continue to stop jumping over my emotions and instead dance with them like a bullfighter 🙂

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  20. Corina says:

    Today, I found your website. I googled extreme self care, as I am releasing a 25 year marriage to a sex addict. He was sober for 14 months, and I thought (for the zillionth time) things had changed. Not so.
    So today I say “yes” to my sanity…to loyalty to my SELF…to a new journey and extreme self care.
    And I say “no” to codependently caring for an addict….no to worry…no to guilt…no to the paralysis of analysis.
    My one fun “yes”- walking to the park for some street food and music.
    My one good “no”- no more trying to analyse how I should heal.

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