Sometimes our lives are ripe for that big, radical change. A death, divorce, health crisis or revelation rearranges our priorities and a new path is not only possible, but demanded. Motivation like that can move mountains, encourage marathons, start businesses, and change the course of our life, or our lifestyle.
But, let’s face it, most of the time we are attempting to change, that radical motivation just isn’t there. Jan 2 isn’t very different from December 30th (minus a little partying in between!). There we are, with a list of New Year’s resolutions, and another day of work, gray skies, and crabby co-workers. After a week or two, our whole list of best intentions falls by the wayside…and life moves on as usual. Predictable – certainly! Lamentable – definitely! Inevitable – NO!
You can move forward toward your goals, even in the absence of that one big catalyst, and despite the winter doldrums. I believe that it takes just four easy steps to get us and keep us moving forward…. Capture, Focus, DO and Repeat.. (and some folks only need two steps to get going!).
CAPTURE: For me, I always have a million things I want to do. From “drinking more water” to “organizing the basement”, the list goes on and on. When a dozen of these things all become “New Year’s Resolutions”, meaningful change is almost doomed to failure. “But ALL of these things are important”, the child in me wails!!! In this situation, it is important to acknowledge and respect ALL of these desires. Write down all the things that are on your mind; that you feel a pressing need to change or accomplish. Capture them on paper so they don’t get lost.
FOCUS: Now, select ONE GOAL that you want to focus on this week. What one thing is most compelling right this moment? It doesn’t have to be your biggest, most important goal, but just one that you are called to act on RIGHT NOW. Remember, you are not abandoning all your other goals. They are still there, right on your piece of paper. Once you have one goal, identify one step that you can do this week to move you your toward your goal. If your goal is to “organize the basement”, can you commit to sorting through one box of junk? Or if your goal is to be healthier, can you commit to bringing a water bottle to work and drink it all every day? You get the idea.
DO: Now, go ahead and DO IT. One week, one goal, one step. If you are really rolling, go ahead and sort two boxes of junk….or rearrange the laundry room…but don’t take on too much or let yourself get overwhelmed by the whole goal. Just make sure you do the one thing that you committed to.
REPEAT: If this was a one-time activity (like sorting through that box), pat yourself on the back for making progress and go right back to FOCUS/DO/REPEAT again. Select any goal and any activity. It does not have to be related to the same goal. What is calling to you right now? Commit to one goal and one action and do it again! If this was the start of a habit that you want to sustain, rather than a one-time activity, you might want to just continue this action for a few weeks, to cement the habit, before you add something new.
While that approach is not radical, it does work. It is effective because it relies on your natural enthusiasm for an action and it only demands small steps. Moving mountains? Maybe not….but continuous movement in the right direction… absolutely! And as the old joke goes….how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!