Actually starting a task can be the hardest part – I get it – but personally, I don’t understand why people wait until Jan 1. to begin any goal. Goal-achieving can be hard enough without letting the start of the Gregorian Calendar be what pushes your start button. I believe that using the calendar to inspire action is like using a false friend for a buddy; in a pinch – will they go out of their way to back you up when you need it? You want to start something? Start it! You want to change something? Change it!
As you progress it should feel as if you are making choices – not sacrifices.
I’m not saying having New Years Resolutions is wrong. I suppose if having a deadline to finish a goal works so well for me, then having a deadline to start a goal can work for others. In either case, I believe the key to success is in the ownership of the goal itself. No goal will be easy to achieve, but if you believe the goal is yours, something you-want-for-you, then the easier it is to stay committed to. (ex. If a child wants to learn/play a sport/instrument then they are far more likely to stay committed to the training than a child whose parents want them to play that sport/instrument. Or… A person has to want to quit smoking for them self first. The goal of quitting because other people want you to, or you think other people want you to is so much harder. )
The more involvement you have in the initial planning, instigation and performance of a goal the more motivation, commitment and accountability you’ll have as you progress along your goal-achieving path. When that is the case, as you progress it should feel as if you are making choices that will help achieve your goal – not that you are making sacrifices that will ‘ruin your day’. This isn’t exclusive to adults. Too often I hear stories where parents have, with best intentions, taken care of all of the planning, the start date and even a lot of the ‘tricky’ or more challenging elements of a goal/task that belongs to their child and then they wonder why their child has no commitment to it. Read on…
Often when I’m speaking to groups about goal achieving I talk about preparation. I like to think that the process of preparation is like filling a cup with grains of rice. For time you spend focusing on work/training/school/relationships you get to put a grain of rice in the cup. The cup represents your goal, and the grains of rice are all the steps that you need to take to achieve it. Every time you are open to new ideas, change, challenge and co-operation you get to put another grain of rice in the cup.
There is a reason that starting is the hardest part of almost any task/goal. In the beginning we have an obviously empty cup and the first grains of rice that we intend to put in look hopeless small. Goals don’t have to be huge; they can be small cups – or large buckets, even the size of your rice grains will differ – some seem minute and others massive. But there is tremendous value to each grain; added together- all your work adds up to something of value. As the grains of rice fill the cup you feel more and more ready; this is, I believe, the best way to deal with stress.
Attendance alone doesn’t earn a grain of rice – you have to be present; giving 100% of what you’ve got to give and genuinely listening – not waiting to talk – which is something I’ll admit that I can struggle with. When you are stubborn, resistant to new ideas or in attendance-only-mode grains of rice are removed from the cup. Everyone will have a few of those, but it’s certainly a pile we need to keep to a minimum!
Today I saw this video that uses 28,835 jelly beans to demonstrate how all of our ‘single days’ add up. When the video isolates one single bean to illustrate “your first day” my mind jumped to the cup-filling-with-rice/preparation concept. Beside all the other beans that one yellow jelly bean looked so… small – as if it could never matter; the idea of it ever becoming the pile – with all its impact – seems unfathomable. But like the grains of rice… they add up too. As you work to achieve your goals, your efforts big and small have value.
Every step you take matters, first ones just as much as last ones.
After a conversation with Matt Galloway, the host of CBC Radio’s Metro Morning ( Toronto, RadioOne) a podcast of our conversation and this article was posted on CBC Books web site. Their title is partly right… but the truth of the “Jammed Cat” is that it helps anyone achieve any goal, big or small. In no way is the Power of More about Olympic size goals only.
Three-time Canadian Olympic gold-medalist Marnie McBean knows it’s a weird concept. But she can’t help comparing her journey to becoming Canada’s most successful summer Olympic athlete to a cat slathered in jam.
The Power of More
By Marnie McBean, foreword by Steve Nash
Greystone Books, Douglas & McIntyre, 257 pages
If anyone is entitled to writing about achieving goals, it would be a three-time Olympic rowing champion with three gold and one bronze medal as testament. In The Power of More, Marnie McBean translates her infectious energy into a book that is the equivalent of verbal Red Bull.
There is an instant pep rally momentum to her easily digestible subtitle: “How small steps can help you achieve big goals.” We are introduced to the mental physique of a retired athlete who has already proven her physical endurance — and her continued high-octane enthusiasm to be better and more is contagious. Humbling anecdotal moments where McBean admits nearly quitting, failure, disillusionment and frustration quickly level the playing field. She’s normal, she’s human. Read on…