We all experience discouragement from time to time. That feeling of failure; more specifically, the feeling of repeated failure. When our goals appear further out of reach than ever, and we despair of reaching them. In my case, I have gained a couple of pounds instead of losing some much-needed weight. And it’s only February!
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
- Me at night: “Wow, this day blew up! But that’s okay, I have a plan for tomorrow. I will bring my lunch/skip breakfast/order a salad.”
- Me the next day: “I’m hungry. I really want a sandwich/burger/whatever. I will save that salad for later.” (Ignore every voice of reason in my head and eat the unhealthy option.)
- Me that night: “Okay, okay, okay. Bad choices today. But I see what I did wrong. Tomorrow I will start again. I will get up early and exercise then eat well all day.”
- Me the next morning: “I’m tired. I probably need rest more than exercise today. I read that sleep is more important than exercise. I’ll go to bed earlier tonight and hit the gym early tomorrow.” (Sleep in, then eat junk.)
Day after day, we set goals then crash and burn. My friend and coach Jeff Goins talks about Jung’s “shadow self” – that part of us that drags us down and makes us doubt our abilities until we feel afraid and inferior.
Interestingly, the shadow also contains our creativity and the seeds of transformation. So what should we do when our heart’s desire appears further out of reach than ever before, and we despair of achieving it?
Really, just one thing. And no, this isn’t some coy, new-age self-help I’m-okay-you’re-okay psychobabble. I’ll explain.
Your goal or dream may be big, in fact, it should be!
- Health goals (lose 50 pounds)
- Work goals (leave your job and work for yourself)
- Financial goals (pay off your house)
- Family goals (regular time with your partner and children).
These are big aspirations
So what one small thing can you do right now, today, that will scoot you just a little closer to the big goal?
Do that. One small right thing.
Doing one right thing may not seem like much. It may not make a big impact. It may not have a measurable effect, and we want our goal to happen now, please. But one right step leads to the next small right step. Don’t think about how long it will take to reach your dream taking only one tiny step at time. Don’t even think about a whole day if it seems exhausting. Just pick one thing and do it.
Here are some examples:
- Eat one bite of salad before you attack your cheeseburger.
- Increase your monthly mortgage payment by $10.
- Walk once around the block.
- Read one story to your child.
- Ask one coworker to eat lunch with you.
- Shut down your devices 5 or 10 minutes early.
- Leave one bite uneaten on your plate.
So small that it really isn’t a sacrifice at all. Then feel happy about that little thing. Sure, you may crash and burn later, but bask in the wonder of this victory
There is a lot of power in repeated small acts. They become habits. They create momentum. Before you know it, you begin to define yourself differently. You’re the girl who starts lunch with a salad. You’re the girl who knows the names of her neighbors and their dogs and kids because you walk after work every day. You’re the girl who knows the best children’s stories because you have read a hundred of them to your kids (using accents and funny voices!)
You feel just a little more confident about your ability to achieve the big stuff because you’re mastering the small stuff
Bookmark this post and read it on the days when you feel like a failure because those days will still happen. And take a breath and do one thing.