As I have mentioned in the previous post, success is a habit and habits are small actions we do on a daily basis. But it can be hard to establish a habit. How do you end up running a full marathon? How do you learn to play the violin, the guitar, the piano? How do you save to buy a house or to travel the world?
When we look at the end result, we often forget that the way to it is a set of small, individual steps. Every step is a small win that brings us closer to that goal.
For example, if my goal is to be healthy and strong, every time I eat a meal that I like and nourishes me, it’s a win. Every time I train with good form, with dedication and push myself, it’s a win.
In the same way, when we are to establish a new habit, it’s a difficult time. You can’t just start running every day, or climbing every day to reach a goal that is 12 months away. If you do, you will get injured and set yourself back, or quit all together as you will find it too challenging and will burnout.
Instead, break it down and reduce it to small steps. If you want to run a marathon, but you struggle to run 1 mile, plan to run twice a week, each time for half a mile. Do it for 3 weeks in a row and increase the distance. After another 3 weeks, add a third day of running and lower the distance again to half a mile until you get used to it. Keep adding.
Keep it small
Once you get near your goal, things don’t change. If you can run a marathon distance on a weekend when you go to run a real marathon things are still the same – it’s all about making many little steps. Don’t think of the event as “OMG a marathon”, this is so big and “I can’t do it”. Think, “I am just going to do what I normally do – put one foot in front of the other and keep going”. Before you know it you have a marathon completed. Next time, you will see the marathon as a much “smaller” thing, because you have done it and you are more familiar with the process. This is why more experienced athletes can perform better than the ones that are younger and fitter but don’t have the strong mentality required, because they get overwhelmed by looking at things as “big”.
You can apply this view to everything. Want to become a vegetarian? Don’t cut all meat at once, reduce on pork for a month. Then remove beef, etc.
Instead of trying to create the most successful business in the world, focus on getting one client that pays you to do what you love doing.
Instead of wanting to become the best published author, aim to write one day a week and then increase it to two, etc.
Every big event or element consists of smaller events or elements. Analyse your goal and break it down to single events/actions. Then don’t try to do them all at once. Lay a plan, and commit to something that is 50% less demanding than what you think you can do comfortably. Keep at it and slowly and carefully add to the weekly schedule so that you don’t burn yourself out.
This approach will work, because when you commit to the actions you are not considering another tens of other things that you need to do. If you push your commitment to the limit from the beginning, there is a very high chance you won’t get far when the toil of daily responsibilities kicks in.
I probably could have committed to writing 2 articles a week. However, I did commit to 1 and it has proven a very critical decision, because at times I was close to not writing even that single post. Nevertheless, I am doing it and will continue with my little steps.
What are you going to commit to? What are the small steps you will take to reach your goal?