Smaller steps still take you where you want to go - sometimes faster!
When we have a new goal, or perhaps an old one that we renew our passion for, the temptation can be to run after it at full speed. I see many people setting off too fast, and often tripping up or just running out of steam before getting where they wanted to go.
If you’ve had a similar experience, then I’m sure you know that feeling of disappointment, only overshadowed by the feeling of pure exhaustion.
Why do we race after our goals and end up falling short?
The sense of urgency that comes from a new goal can be a good thing; it can drive us forward and inspire us to get to work. But it can also create anxiety or a feeling of existential dread. If you are feeling a sense of time pressure, or working to a tight deadline, then it’s not hard to fall into this way of being.
In the past, I’ve had goals that have made me so excited that I couldn’t sleep. I would spend the evening, and then the night long after my bedtime, thinking about all the things I would do towards my goal the next day, and excitedly making lists and Google-researching the 'how-to' parts.
Then, when the morning would come, I would be too tired from a night of restlessness to focus, and much of that energy, focus, and even passion would dissipate into a cloud of smoke as I wished for a coffee-powered miracle to occur.
Does this sound familiar?
So, when we are presented with a motivating goal or a brilliant opportunity, what are we to do?
I’m not saying don’t get excited - definitely not! Life is for living, and moments like this are what it’s all about, but what I would like to suggest is getting strategic with how you pursue that goal, before the excitement or anxiety carries you away.
Think about it this way; will taking one massive, energetic leap in the direction of your goal, and then tiring yourself out and going back to bed for the rest of the day, get you to the end result in one piece? Or, would taking a few small steps spread over a few days be more efficient?
The point I’m wanting to make is that small steps are not a bad compromise - far from it! Sometimes pacing yourself is the best way to preserve your energy and keep moving forward.
We’ve all heard of taking one step forward and two steps back, and this is typically what happens when we overreach. We simply slow ourselves down and end up taking a very long route.
The shortest distance between point A and point B is the one where you make steady progress along that straight line, and don’t slide back down it from tiredness. If you have a tendency to overreach or get swept along with the excitement and ultimately lose your way, then here are a few ideas to keep you on track.
Three top tips to keep you on the right path
1. Have an accountability buddy
When you hear the term 'accountability buddy', you might think of somebody to watch your progress and make sure you’re showing up. Well, in this circumstance, I’m referring to somebody who makes sure you pace yourself. Tell a trusted friend about your plans, and ask them to sense-check you once in a while.
2. Plan your steps on paper
This would work just as well in an online calendar or spreadsheet too - I just love an excuse to use stationary! This will sound too simple, but it’s a step many people overlook, perhaps because it is so simple.
Rather than trying to go at the goal in one big move, break it down into steps and plan them out on a timeline or calendar. This will ensure you are always moving forward, and give you every opportunity to take small steps while feeling reassured that you are progressing. You could show this plan to your accountability buddy too!
3. Check-in with your mental state
If you are somebody who struggles with anxiety over a goal, then remember to check in with yourself on this regularly.
Are you rushing? Are you losing focus or worrying a lot?
Simple meditations or breathing exercises go a long way to slowing down your racing mind and allowing your focus to come back. So, when you notice the temptation to rush a goal, or take bigger steps than you can really manage, pause and ground yourself. Remember that smaller steps are a wise strategy, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I hope these tips help you, and above all, remember to be kind to yourself!