Little by Little, Step by Step

So now that we are well into January of a new year how many of you have rescinded on your new
year’s resolutions? Safe to say many people have already started to whittle down the large list they
made and decided they’ll do it later. New year’s resolutions are generally a long list of things we
would like to do for ourselves that we never got around to doing the previous year. Many people
fool themselves into thinking they can make up for a year of not doing something by cramming it all
into the first few weeks of the new year which is traditionally how long most new year’s resolutions
last.

I myself gave up making resolutions many years ago exactly for that reason. We live in a fast paced world that is getting faster every day and as a society we put compressed time frames on
everything we do. This then leads to stress within our self as we feel we are not fulfilling what we
planned and ultimately this leads to tension. As a practitioner of Systema the reduction of tension is
one of our main goals. If we truly practice what we preach then why would we put so much pressure
onto ourselves?

Adam and Brendon two very good friends of mine, who are a strong influence in my systema journey
and also top instructors, always say to me, little by little, step by step when I speak to them about
anything difficult be it my practice or my everyday life.
So how does this relate to new year’s resolutions I hear you ask?

Think of it like this, a standard new year’s resolution for a large percentage of the western world
would look like this,

1. Exercise More
2. Lose Weight/ Eat Healthy
3. Drink less alcohol

So, what happens January 1st ? We go and join a gym, switch to a new fad diet and start eating meals
so small a bird would be hungry. After coming off Christmas and New Year’s Eve where we have
eaten to excess, done minimal exercise and over indulged in alcohol we’ve just set ourselves up to
fail whilst putting ourselves under a huge amount of stress to stick to it!

So how do we minimise the risk of failure and get what we want? Let’s put this same thinking into
the practice of systema. Many people come to systema and make a mental list of what they want to
achieve. A typical list may look like this,

1. Move well
2. Better relaxation
3. Have better posture

If we go into our training and try to achieve all three every time, we are putting more pressure on
ourselves than we need.

If we think, little by little, step by step we would think like this,

For the next few months I will focus on my breathing. No matter what drill or exercise I do this will
be my primary focus. If you truly focus on just this one thing sure enough little by little, step by step
you will see a change in your work. Why is this? Because the focus of one thing in this case breathing
will slowly begin to affect the others. In order to move well we need to have smooth breathing
which in turn requires you to be relaxed and with better posture you reduce restriction of the body
on the lungs. Everything is intertwined.

If we take this thinking back to our New Year’s resolution, we can break it down like this,
For the next few months I am going to reduce my intake of alcohol or maybe only have an alcoholic
drink one day of the week.

What is the result of this? You’ll begin to sleep better, which will give you more energy. You’ll be less
inclined to have that greasy hangover feed and you’ll feel less sluggish. Within a short time, you’ll
look in the mirror and see a difference. People may even remark how much better you look or how
much energy you have. There’s also a good chance the number on the scales is slowly going down.
So, little by little, step by step one thing you are focusing on is changing the others.

With this in mind I encourage you to revisit those resolutions or focus on something in your life
that’s feeling like an obstacle. Take the learning of Systema and put it into your everyday life. Pick
one thing to focus on to help reduce the tension and pressure you’ve put on yourself.

No matter what the goal or problem always remember you will chip away at it little by little, step by
step.