When people are looking to make changes in their life, whether it relates to business, exercise or learning a new skill, they often fall at the first hurdle; they don’t even start.
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.
People are too often but off by the magnitude of what they are trying to achieve and are paralysed by fear, which stops them from taking action.
If you find yourself in this position, the thing you have to remember is that by taking action and making a change, however infinitesimally small, your life will be better tomorrow that it is today.
Anything is better than nothing.
This is easily demonstrated as with a dieting and weight loss example, but it really applies to anything you want to achieve in life.
For example, if you decide that you want to lose weight, you may be put off by visions of sweaty gym sessions five times a week, or only eating salad. You may think it’s impossible for you to lose ten pounds.
It is exactly these visions of the future that will prevent you from meeting your goal.
Going from zero exercise to five gym sessions per week is unrealistic and even if you find the motivation to start, it is unlikely that you will be able to maintain the level of enthusiasm required to keep it up.
Failing at this early stage is demotivating and you will find yourself back at square one weighing up a new fad diet or exercise plan.
Starting where you cannot fail
Instead, focus your energy on the first small step that you need to take to inch gradually towards your goal. Small sustainable changes made over the long term will have a far greater effect than racing to achieve your goals in a week or a month.
Commit to one small thing that will make your life better and will get you a step closer to your goal. Make it something that is so easy that you simply CANNOT fail.
Sticking with the exercise example, your new target might be to do five push ups per day.
This will take you approximately 5 seconds, so unless you have an injury, there is no excuse for not being able to do this.
Try to do it at a set time so that you can get into a routine, i.e. as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, or when you brush your teeth.
Track it for the next five days. Mark on your calendar or a separate tracker each day that you meet the target.
As you come to the end of the five days, you’ll realise how easy it was. You’ve done 25 push ups that you wouldn’t have done otherwise and you’re feeling good about future success.
These small successes are empowering and motivating and once you’ve demonstrated to yourself that you can do it, you’ll have the confidence to take on a slightly more difficult challenge.
Tracking your progress visually also helps you to build momentum and gives you extra motivation. You won’t want to miss a day if it means putting a big red cross next to a row of ticks that you’ve worked hard to build up.
From here you have a couple of options, but essentially you want to build this into a habit that you can do every day almost without thinking about it.
- You could extend your tracker to 30 days. Can you stick to it for this period of time?
- Try another 5 days but increase the number of repetitions, i.e. seven push ups for five days
- Add another thing to your list i.e. five push ups and five sit ups
Small steps to meet your goals
There are countless examples of habits that you could start right now that would get you one small step closer to achieving your big goals, how about…
- Building up to your fitness goals starting with just a few push ups
- Writing a book in 500 word instalments
- Saving up for a rainy day, a few pence a day
- Learning a new language, one sentence a day