01/18/2011 06:36 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Think Small: The Art of Scaling Back Your Goals

Everything I do is small. I collect small notebooks to pen my thoughts. I put small, decorative objects on presents to transform them into exquisite treasures. I believe in the small idea, the small thought and the small bite. The only way I've succeeded at anything is to take small steps.

Many people want it all now, but not me. I want a slow drip, so I can acclimate. I need time to adjust to any changes. I'd probably drop dead if I won the lottery. If I were suddenly super-sleek and thin, I wouldn't know who I was.

I don't have a list of 100 things I want to do before I die. I have 20. I'd be too stressed out if I tried to squeeze in 80 more. I don't want to imagine hiking to the top of Kilimanjaro. There's no air up there, hanging over a huge cavern of nothingness. When you finally reach the top, you're almost too weak to stake in a flag. I don't need to beckon death to feel alive.

It's not that I'm not a doer. I've had my brushes with death from daring. I did paddle down the Zambezi River in Class 5 rapids and almost got sucked down a black hole. And it's not that I don't go wild in my head. I do fantasize about living with chimps in Tanzania like Jane Goodall, but I'm afraid one will attack me and rip my face off while I sleep.

Call me a simpleton, but for me, it's enough to rub the fuzz on the tummies of my kitties every morning, nuzzle my man, and make a cup of steaming green tea to enjoy while watching the birds outside my kitchen window tiff over who is going to get the most niger seeds on the finch sock.