Small Steps, Continuous Improvement The Kaizen Approach

In Business, Leadership

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

Hitchhiking North America

Last year, I achieved one of my greatest accomplishments to date. I hitchhiked and couchsurfed 20,000km across North America through the generosity of human beings, spending $0 on accommodation and transport.

I started in Montreal on the east coast of Canada, hitchhiked west to Vancouver. I headed to a wedding of some good friends then hitchhiked south to Los Angeles, and finally made my way east to finish in New York City. It took 6 months to complete my mission, riding in about 190 different cars.

I met lots of amazing people along the way and the journey taught me a lot. In this article I want to explore one of the biggest lessons.

Small Steps, Incremental Progress.  

My hitchhiking journey epitomised a “one step at a time ” philosophy.

When I arrived in Montreal, I knew that I faced one of the biggest challenges of my life. My end goal was New York City, which was 20,000km’s and 6 months down the road.

I could’ve been easily dissuaded and overwhelmed by the enormity of the trip, but rather than looking too far ahead, I decided to place my focus and attention on the next step in front of me.

It wasn’t that easy to keep motivated though. Day after day, and sometimes in the pouring rain, I’d stand at the side of the road and face 100s of rejections from cars passing by.

But nothing was stopping me. I had a goal that I was passionate about and I was focused on achieving it no matter what.

One step at a time (and taking a lot of them), I hopped from town to town.

My confidence and motivation heightened with each small win, and eventually, through the ups and downs, I made it to New York City.

The Lesson: Small steps, continuous progress.

The journey taught me that it was a series of well thought out small steps, continuous iteration and resilience that got me to New York City.

Whether you’re starting a business, thinking about writing a book, or embarking on your own big adventure, don’t overwhelm yourself by looking at the whole pie.

Most of the time we find making the first step difficult because we pessimistically overestimate the work required of just getting started on our goal.

Try not to think in terms of results and the end goal. Instead, direct your energy into the smallest possible action you can take NOW to get the ball rolling.

That means brainstorming the first chapter of your book, going on a 5 minute run around the block, or learning a new language on DuoLingo for 20 minutes a day.

There’s power in intention and just getting starting.

There’s momentum in movement, and it’s the small steps that build up for the bigger steps that follow.

And let me tell you now, things will go wrong.

You’ll encounter your fair share of downs, but don’t let this phase you.

Remember that the downs create space for the ups.

By embracing the uncertainty and making small continuous iterations as you go, you’ll move forward with purpose and clarity towards your desired goal or outcome.


Think big, start small.

Foresight and vision of your overall goal is important, but you can’t get there without taking the steps and having the necessary experiences.

Work towards your goal with intention and attention, and don’t forget to take time out to celebrate your small wins along the way.

Thanks for reading and all the best,

Daniel Beaumont, Monday 18th January 2016

About the Author

Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.

I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.

I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.

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