Hopefully, you have connected with a goal that really matters to you (in Resolution Reset step 1) (and step 2). If you haven’t, this next step will let you know that quickly…because it’s time to start putting in some work.
The two tips we’re going to tackle in this step to help you reach your goal:
- One goal at a time
- One step at a time
One Goal at a Time
If you’re working with the 30 Days of Tiny Changes journal, mayyyybe you have two goals. But we need to keep our goal list decluttered and focused right now – just one or two things that we really want to accomplish – so that we:
- have enough time to work on our goals
- have enough energy (physical and mental) to work on our goals
- don’t forget about our goals because we’re distracted by so many steps and ideas
So many New Year’s resolutions simply get forgotten! It’s not that it didn’t matter to you to “save money” and “be a better friend” while you were “getting in shape” and “saving the rainforests”, but you were just pulled in too many directions. If we tackle each of these goals one or two at a time, we can actually reach them, check them off our list, and move on to other goals.
When you’re working on your one (or two) goal(s), you’ll need to get pretty specific about what you are trying to accomplish. It’s okay if you’re not sure that you’re being specific about the right or best goal yet, because we’re going to get to the result you want anyhow by taking things…
One Step at a Time
How many times have you made a calendar of exactly how your goal will go, from start to finish, over a period of months? One push-up today, 8 next Monday, 88 in a row a few weeks from now…or maybe -1 pound this week, which means -4 pounds by the end of the month and -20 pounds soon, all according to the calendar!
And you reached your goal, so you’re not reading this blog post. Congratulations!!
Still here? That’s because these detailed long-term plans don’t really work for most goals, especially when they’re physical! Our bodies have somewhat of their own logic, and we are going to need to work with them starting from where they are and keep adjusting our steps and plans in order to reach our goals. That’s why we’re taking things…
One step at a time.
While it might feel reassuring right now to plan out 99 steps, the most important step (and the only one that really exists, sorry to be Zen about this) is the one you’re about to take next. That next step might lead you in a different direction than you had planned, and then those other 98 steps will be nothing but wasted mental energy.
For example, say you want to lose weight. A good first step is to take a look at what you’re eating in a week. It’s hard to know what changes to make until you look at where you are.
A next step might be to adjust your intake to match your needs. (An RD or a personal trainer should be able to help you with that. and here are some tips about doing the calculations on your own.) That might actually be several steps – first, the calculations or talking to a professional, then adjusting each meal or snack over the course of a week or a month to find a balance that works for you. (And truthfully, that’s an ongoing process.)
You might also find that you need to add activity to your day, so you might start with a 10-minute walk if you’re starting from scratch. That one step might be enough for a week or more – it all depends on how quickly you adapt to adding that walk to your day. From there, maybe it’s best for you to make one of your walks longer each week, or maybe it’s time to add strength training once a week.
Most important point: you don’t need to know what workout you’re going to be doing a month from now, or what your meals will be next week. Planning too far ahead is only a recipe for disappointment, because life is always changing. You might catch a cold, a holiday or vacation might come along, work might get busy – and none of these unpredictable things is a reason to ditch your goals! You just need to account for the change in your plan for that day or week.
There is no wagon!
If you find yourself always thinking about being “on or off the wagon”, go re-read that last paragraph. There is no wagon. You aren’t “on” or “off” – you are living your one, beautiful, continuous life! It is silly (at best) to think that life on day one of your journey to your goal will be just like life on all of the other days until you reach it – but that’s what you are telling yourself when you look at your progress in terms of the “wagon”.
Be flexible, or constantly be surprised that you’re not making progress toward your goal – the choice is yours. Planning to be flexible by working on one goal, one step at a time will lead you to success more quickly than any wagon could ever haul you there.
Other One-Step Perks
Other benefits of taking things one step at a time?
- If you make a misstep, you only have to backtrack or redirect by one step’s worth of effort
- You can make progress every day or week (depending on how you’re taking your steps) – and see that you’re undeniably making progress as you complete each step
- You can’t get bogged down or overwhelmed, because all you have to do is figure out the smallest next step and take it…
- …which means that if you’re really using this strategy, your goals will stop living in your head (in the land of overthinking) and start becoming real life results
- You can’t fail, because all you have to do is take the next step. Even if you have a few weeks or months between steps, when you’re ready, you just take the next one!
PS – Comparison is the Thief of Joy
I didn’t coin that, but it’s SO TRUE. You CAN NOT succeed by looking at someone else’s success and getting down on yourself for not being where they are. (I know, I just ruined the purpose of the internet for you. Sorry.) The truth is, you have no idea what it took for them to get where they are – and even if they publish the story or method or diet or waist trainer/diet tea/workout combo that they claim got them their results, you have no way of knowing if they’re being honest.
Comparison kills a lot of goals and wastes a lot of time. Life is short. Focus on your own tiny steps.