One bite at a time
“I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2001-step process.” ~ Thomas Edison
It’s a New Year, and what better way to start a new year off than to set new goals, right? Seems logical and appropriate. We make a long (or short) list of New Year resolutions that go something along these lines; go to the gym, lose weight, be more patient with my partner, spend more quality time with family, start saving money for a big vacation next summer or, depending on your personality type, perhaps retirement, make an effort to see my friends or family more regularly, stop getting so angry at the ever-increasing morning (and evening!) traffic, drink more water, drink less caffeine, on and on and on… and then NOTHING!
Well, not nothing—in the first week of the new year, panic and anxiety usually set in—there’s so much to do, to start…to finish, and the end goal seems a far off place from where we are and we become overwhelmed… creating a sense of inertia. For some the first few weeks of the year are a time when we say “I want change and I want it NOW.” We are usually so impatient in the process that in fact, we don’t allow the process, and so nothing happens AGAIN.
Throw away the New Year resolutions. Don’t evaluate the time you have available based on the fact that it’s the beginning of a new year—12 months, 52 weeks, 366 days (it’s a leap year this year) to get things done (even with a bonus day)—stop. Forget that it’s a new YEAR. A year is a long time, but it’s too big to take it all in, all at once. When you eat a hamburger you don’t stuff the whole thing into your mouth, (well, unless you’re J. Wellington “Wimpy” from Popeye! Which most likely isn’t your aspiration) NO, you take one bite at a time.
Downsize the way you look at the amount of time it will take to conquer your goals (some are more challenging than others) and think only about TODAY. Just the same as you would not attempt to ski down a very difficult mountain slope without taking the challenge on with small strides each day, which eventually leads to a great, thrilling and worthwhile skiing experience and sense of accomplishment.
Today is a new DAY and your ambition to live better or be better is not dependent on the fact that it’s a New Year, but rather, just because it’s a new day. The gift is a new day, one in which you can make it anything you want it to be, so take the pressure off. Time is such a relative term anyway. Don’t let time keep you from doing something great, just because you feel like you missed the moment, or blundered on a resolution, or feel overwhelmed at how much has to get done. Think about this for a moment; what really changed after the New Year anyway?
From December 31st, to the morning after… January 1st, did anything really change other than you making a commitment and a promise to yourself that something would change? Did you still have the same defeating thoughts about yourself on January 1st as you did on December 31st? If the answer is yes, what is going to give you the impetus to create the change you so desire? First your thoughts and feelings about yourself must change, and subsequently your actions will soon follow.
I think it’s wise for each person to set a mandate for themselves by which they live; a certain line they draw or a set of rules they make for themselves. We do this in friendships and relationships, why not with ourselves? Fair enough, we may not list them, but in our minds we have certain hopes and expectations from those we surround ourselves with.
Think about it this way: If we felt habitually let down by a friend we would probably choose to either invest in improving things or we would decide that the exchange is no longer something that is nurturing us, and we would move on to something that does.
You need to be that kind of friend to yourself. You need to be accountable, considerate, and nurturing to your needs and follow through with the promises you’ve made, because one of the most important relationships you will ever have is with yourself, and only you can be accountable to yourself. Be your own role model and honor your words.
Today, I ask you to reset. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and remember:
Just because it’s difficult and complicated, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Forget about past mistakes and failures and put your thoughts and energy towards what is possible, what you are going to do about it NOW, and as Nike perfectly inspires us, JUST DO IT. You will make progress one step at a time, moment to moment, you will gather momentum, it will feel like less of an effort as you embrace each day and before you know it, you’re there. Just because you don’t know how, doesn’t mean you can’t. There is much to gain by simply getting started, and there will be many opportunities to learn more, each day.
And keep in mind that opportunities often come disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat, but don’t allow this to become a dead end.
Just start. That’s half the battle won, because it’s the beginning of something that is always the most daunting. But once you have begun you just keep moving. And if something is standing in your way, it doesn’t have to stop you. The fact that there is a little resistance means you’re on the right track, just keep taking action.
Remember that there is no limit to the goodness and joy you can create in your life and the lives of others. Just start and take a bite at a time.
MAKE THIS YOUR MANTRA:
I will persist until I succeed. Because I know small change after small change eventually leads to great change.
- Are you putting off getting started on something because you are overwhelmed? Or afraid you will fail?
- Write down what is keeping you from embarking on it.
- Tell yourself, “I deserve great things, I am worthy of happiness and goodness, and life is a journey not a destination.” Simply, choose to get started, and take action.
I know that small attempts repeated will complete any undertaking. Here’s a very fitting quote I came across, “I don’t ever know as much as I think I do, but I am always more capable than I think I am.”