Tag: overwhelm

The Secret of Turtle Steps

How are you getting on with your ‘beating procrastination challenge ‘ ?

Are you celebrating success or feeling stuck and beating yourself up that you have failed to complete or even start tackling your goal ?

Can I share with you the secret of turtle steps and how they can play a vital role in getting you where you want to be – finishing a project, losing weight, learning a new skill or whatever else your goal might be.

As you know my challenge was my desk. I was really enthusiastic about taking on ‘eating my elephant in small bites’ and chunking the task. As the desk has eight drawers I decided I would tackle a drawer a day and be done in eight days. Ha ha ! The first few were easy but then I had a busy day and didn’t manage one and I could feel my crazy inner perfectionist’s internal resistance to doing more, as I had now failed to keep to my original plan.

Luckily I remembered the powerful concept of taking turtle steps that I was introduced to a few years ago by the american life coach Martha Beck during a workshop she held at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.

This centre is well worth a visit if you are in London. Originally a medieval church which, against all the odds, managed to survive the Great Fire of London, the Blitz and then in 1993 the IRA Bishopsgate bomb that exploded right outside. It is now facilitating great work in conflict resolution, peace and reconciliation and also provides a wonderful peaceful and inspiring venue for various workshops.


ethelburga400courtyard St Ethelburga

ethelburga logo


So what is this about Turtle Steps ?!!

Well you know that turtles swim along beautifully under water but on land they have to take teeny weeny steps to get anywhere. Watching a turtle walk can be almost painful if you are intent on it getting to its destination but if you look away for a while and then come back you can really appreciate the progress it has made. The same with the turtle steps towards whatever goal you want to achieve !

Martha Beck emphasises the crucial thing about a turtle step is that it has to feel do-able, really ridiculously easy. The more ridiculously easy the better as it will cut through your self limiting thought processes and the more successful you will be. Remember any step can feel ridiculously easy as long as you make it small enough.

Baby Turtle

If you have a very strong inner perfectionist like I do you might be feeling some inner resistance to accepting the idea of turtle steps. Why oh why do our minds hold onto the idea that taking giant steps forward that exist only in our imagination is somehow better than the smaller steps that we can actually achieve in real life ?!

So how can you decide on your turtle steps, so that you are soon swimming along ?

Remember any step can feel ridiculously easy as long as you make it small enough. Why not start looking at your goal and chunking it down into the steps you would have to take to get there. Be aware that your inner perfectionist could be making these decisions so bypass this immediately by cutting each step in half. Then keep cutting them in half till they are so easy you almost feel you could do them in your sleep ! Just start with the first easy step, then the next and you now have the pathway to successfully reaching your goal.

If your inner perfectionist is very strong it may really resist the idea of turtle steps. Could you at some level be holding onto the idea that if you take on more than is necessary and excel at it, you will finally be worthy, and therefore, loved. The irony is that you don’t get more accomplished when you take on more — you actually accomplish less that way.

Often our minds won’t allow us to embrace ridiculously easy. If it feels easy we don’t trust it. Hypnotherapy can help you change a self limiting belief from ‘it has to be hard’ to ‘I can allow it to be easier’ which can then have profound effects in your everyday life.

Putting the timer on my phone and tackling just 5 minutes tidying became my turtle step and the only requirement was I did just one turtle step a day ( although without the pressure I found sometimes I would do more ) Ridiculously easy ! Now I am really enjoying the benefits of a clear and organised desk.

What turtle steps could you choose ?

Overwhelmed by procrastination?

How are you getting on?

Do you still feel you are procrastinating but in this instance it isn’t perfectionism that is stopping you , perhaps it could be overwhelm instead. When something seems too big we can often feel paralysed, it’s almost impossible to even make a start.

It might be that you are facing a task that everyone would agree is pretty enormous but it also might be something much smaller and it may be hard to understand why you just can’t get going. The relative size of the task in our minds is much more likely to depend on the emotional outlay rather than the actual work required.

So what can you do ?


My friend Christine told me this saying many moons ago. It is a sort of mantra for her and it has stood her in good stead, helping her when taking up a busy and demanding full time career once her children were settled in school and giving her a structure for study, both in learning Mandarin and now as she is about to embark on her PhD.

In hypnotherapy we call this chunking, seeing where we want to be and then working backwards deciding on what small bites are necessary to get there. In my hypnotherapy sessions I know it is so important to get clients motivated to keep on taking those small bites especially at times when they feel they are not making any headway. Having a strong image of success but more importantly how that would actually feel is key to keeping them going through the whole process.

What do you want to do that you know you are putting off at the moment ?
It could be something big that might take months to execute and of course that’s great if you feel ready to tackle that now. Remember, however, the way to train for a marathon is to start with smaller runs so starting with something smaller could be equally as good. Once you have these skills you can apply them to any task however big!

I am going to take my own challenge.


My desk, I hate these drawers but have been overwhelmed by sorting them out for a very long time and just keep them closed not thinking about what’s inside. What to keep, what to throw out, ‘sorting it out will mess up my room and I haven’t got enough time in between clients’ is one of the excuses I tell myself.

I close my eyes and really imagine this being sorted, when I can find exactly what I want, when I want. Using all the senses to make it as real as possible is the most powerful way to get an image to stick in the unconscious mind. I imagine opening a drawer, feeling the round wooden knob in my hand, the sound of the drawer opening, the sight of everything neat and tidy and in its place and then really get a sense of the satisfaction I will feel.

Then I plan my bites, just tackle one drawer at a time and just START.

So do you want to join me in this challenge?

What are you procrastinating about doing at the moment?

Being accountable can be a powerful motivator. Through this blog I am now accountable to you but perhaps you could tell your family or friends or let me know what you are doing and be accountable to me. You can do it, believe in yourself. Really imagine how good it will feel to have done this, work out your first bite and START.

It might be a cliche but it is also true ………

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu

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