You might know me as a positive guy if you have read, listened to, or watched my stuff over the years. I strive to be that way, especially when I’m interacting with others, but it’s never been an automatic thing for me when evaluating myself. In my younger days – still young, by the way, or at least like to think I am (Attitude, Perspective… Mindset) – I was my own worst critic. It was a challenge then, and it’s something that I still work on to this day.
The clarity of hindsight is a beautiful thing, and looking back I can see that a big problem for me was setting unrealistic goals, then getting frustrated by falling short. Why start with a mile, when you can train for the whole marathon? Because marathons are hard, and real life doesn’t allow you to skip the first 25.2 miles just to get to the home stretch.
Struggling with Self-Doubt? Try Rewarding Yourself for the Little Achievements
Today, I really try to take the opposite view and set incremental goals that lead to the big ones. So lately I’ve taken up running again, hence the marathon talk. My buddy John Andrews is a big runner, and we really have great conversations when we go for walks. I want to be able to continue those conversations at John’s preferred pace, but running has never been my strong suit.
I’ve always liked working out, but greatly prefer my bike to the treadmill. So I’m starting small, and working my way up to three miles. The trip from my house to the beach and back is about 1.5 miles, so the first goal is to keep a good pace for that distance. No hard time limits. When I finish, I give myself a little pat on the back for accomplishing what I set out to do. Sometimes I walk, sprint, walk, sprint.
And you know what? I’m having more success pursuing my ultimate goal of three miles, and I’m enjoying the process more without the internal pressure. I know I’ll get there, I know it takes time, and I always try to remind myself that incremental progress is meaningful. Again, none of that stuff is automatic for me. It’s not easy to give yourself a break, but it’s worth it.
The Big Picture Benefits of Accomplishing Little Things
Another personal example, and one that not many people know about yet is that I have started eating vegan. It’s something that I had wanted to do for quite a while, so I’ve been trying to give myself the best chance possible to see it through. A total change in diet is a huge commitment and affects you in all sorts of little, unforeseen ways day-to-day.
In the past, I’d have struggled with it much more because I’d have been thinking about how I had to become a vegan forever. You seriously expect me to skip out on steak and eggs for the rest of my days? Now, I know that to accomplish my goal I just need to eat vegan today. I don’t have to worry about what I’ll be eating for dinner five years from now, as long as I focus on achieving my goal one day, week, month, year at a time.
The vegan experiment has gone well enough in the first six months that I have decided to keep it up for a year, to see how it affects my body and my health over time. I’m already seeing the health benefits by accomplishing my short-term goals, which makes the process of seeing it through the full year much less intimidating. I give myself credit for what I’ve accomplished so far, and use that as motivation to reach my goals again tomorrow.
And of course I apply this very same principle to the rebuilding of, and maintaining, my relationship with my daughters. I set short-term goals, stay present and available ALWAYS, and am thankful always for the love I have in my heart, and the moments we have… that will always be mine (Attitude, Perspective… Mindset). #ThisDadWontQuit.
The same basic idea works for any type of goal, personal or professional. There is only so much that you can do in a given day. Setting unrealistic goals just makes it more difficult to accomplish what you set out to do, and can easily short-circuit whatever progress you do make. Set attainable goals, accomplish what you set out to do each day, and give yourself some credit for a job well done. Over time, accomplishing those smaller goals lays the foundation for achieving the big ones. #NoLetUp!