“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Recently when I was talking to a friend, I remembered the expression: Slowly and always. She has struggled to exercise at home, which is not a habit, but her big goal for this year is to improve her health routine, so she decided to do at least 1 hour of physical activity daily. It turns out that she was recently promoted and with her two children, her days that were already hard are now almost insane. She is consumed by so many tasks that, exhausted at the end of the day, she feels unable to put on her gym clothes, put herself in front of the tv and do her workout. Not enough, during this 1 hour she is interrupted numerous times by the kids. Not only she feels frustrated not doing her 01-hour goal, she doesn’t see value in doing the minimum possible viable (MPV), that could be 15 or 30 minutes a day for example - MPV means that no matter what happens in your day, you will do it. So instead of 1 hour or 30 minutes, she doesn't do any and feels frustrated.
Did you already notice that we tend to value too much what we can do quickly and in the short term, but we value little of what we are able to build in the long term? Our day’s configuration changes and also, there are many other things happening at the same time, which requires of us wisdom to distribute our energy over all the things that matter.
When you don't have enough energy to put massive action all the time on a specific goal, take the small-steps strategy every day, to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and procrastination. When you can't be the hare, be the turtle, but don't ever stop.
We fail because we're in a hurry, we fail because we believe we're not good enough, we fail because we don't believe in the power of micro-behaviors and small changes, daily improvements.
Keep in mind 3 things about your energy: work on the right thing (which involves good decisions about what to do), have a very clear plan, take small steps and small improvements every day.
This idea that to do something big, I have to be big or I have to work taking gigantic fast steps, is what overloads and suffocates us, until we end up abandoning our dreams, our goals along the way.
We just become the person capable of doing great things, making small improvements, increasing small changes every day. You will realize that each action accumulated will drive you much faster towards what you want. Incremental changes transform your behavior in a sustainable way and you become the person who manages energy intelligently, able to create and maintain extraordinary results.
Sometimes people get sick for not taking care of everything they think that they should do. But you can do big things without doing everything at once. It is possible because during the journey, you are changing your behavior and being constant in your actions.
Imagine that you are unable to save $500 per month, but you can save $50. But you don't even start saving $50.00 because it is very little and doesn't even come close to the amount that you need. It turns out that if you don't start with what is possible in that moment, under the current conditions, you are increasingly further away from what you want, because time keeps passing while you look at what you don't have rather than look at what's within reach at this point.
“Step by step overtime you can accomplish any big goal and when you do it, you will give yourself confidence a wonderful boost”
Learning a new language is a slow and daily process. Having massive action of studying 8 hours in a day and zero hours in the next 7 days will not help you achieve the great goal of fluency. Just like having massive action following the watermelon diet for 1 week does not bring you closer to the goal of having a healthy body and feel good about it, because you will not be able to maintain this diet for more than a few days.
Instead of it, think of everything we can accomplish in the medium, long term by slowly, steady and sustainable progress. Think of what you can achieve while you are learning about yourself and getting better during the journey. Having the discipline in progressing day after day, taking it one step at a time, is what makes you achieve great goals.
Working with the strategy of progressive improvement does not mean not challenging yourself, or staying in the comfort zone. Remember that we feel enthusiasm in the challenge and it is "out of our comfort zone" that we build memorable moments. It is learning to overcome the challenge to maintain the right dose of discipline and energy on the right thing at the right time. One step at a time.
For someone who eats meat every day at lunch and dinner, and wish to cut it from their meals, they can for example start by replacing only one meal for a period of time, and then alternate meatless days, progressively getting used to a new menu, having time to discover other foods as pleasant as it could be a serving of meat.
If one of the goals is to start waking up at 5am in order to exercise or do anything else that during the day you don’t have time, it can be a drastic change if today you are used to getting up at 8am. Maybe you will feel so tired that can make you give up in a few days. Instead of it, you can progressively start waking up earlier, like for a period of time at 6:30am, then at 6:00am and finally at 5:00 am. One step at a time at a pace that challenges you in a right measure, wisely avoiding getting frustrated and giving up.
A friend who hated cooking, and so never did it, began to feel very guilty about it and decided to cook every day for her 2 children. A week later, no one in the house could stand her mood. It was a very broad step in short time for her. After understanding the importance of taking things one step at a time, she was committed to cooking 2 or 3 days a week.
The wisdom in establishing realistic steps and being consistent, gives you the confidence that you need about your ability to make it happen, and that fuel fills you with more strength and desire for the next steps, and then you find yourself accomplishing great things that looking back you couldn't even imagine.
I want to speak English, but I want to speak English now. I want to lose weight, but I want it now. I want more money, but I want it now. Challenging yourself is different from rushing. Hurrying leads us to sabotage, procrastination and giving up. One step at a time, small and every day. Wisely increase the pace and widen them.
The person you become during the journey, with new skills and behaviors, will know how to challenge yourself in the right measure, by enthusiasm and without frustration. Don't forget to have fun and celebrate every step.