When I look at the success I’ve had with weight loss it really is all about the little things. The easy steps to a goal are what our brains look for and what we will actually follow through with.
What are the Easy Steps to a Goal?
Think about a goal you have. Maybe you want to lose 10 lbs or 100, run a 5k, make $100,000, or quit drinking.
When will you be close to achieving it? Where did that idea come from – that you are closer to the goal at 51% but nowhere near it at 10%? At 49% you are closer to the start than the end… When you are 90% are you in the final stretch? At what point do we celebrate our progress? When you have lost 8 lbs or 90 lbs, you can run 4k, or hit $90,000, or have gone without a drink for 6 months?
Most of us view our goals in this way. We think we aren’t close until we can see the finish line and that we haven’t succeeded until we reached the end. Often we imagine our goals on a linear graph, and we track our progress that way. Any goal I’ve ever worked towards has never had linear results. That’s where the saying “2 steps forward, 1 step back” comes in. We often think the first few steps toward a goal barely count. In fact, we think they are closer to zero than anything else. These steps aren’t enough and don’t matter.
It’s simple math, right? Well this math is wrong.
This math doesn’t take into account the space between doing nothing and doing something.
The space between doing nothing and doing something is infinite.
The Infinite 1%
I look at it as the infinite 1%. When you go from 0 to 1 it is exponential growth. It’s also the part most people don’t do. Getting started is the biggest step.
Once you’ve done that? You can just repeat the process until you reach your goal.
1% of your goal may seem minuscule….but going from inaction to action is actually the biggest distance you can cover.
A body in motion will tend to stay in motion and a body at rest will tend to stay at rest…Newton’ First Law of Motion
The hardest part of anything you’ll do is overcoming the inertia of doing nothing in order to do something. And the hardest part of stopping something you’re used to doing is learning how to stop yourself from doing it the first few times.
When you want to take new action, you have to get over your inertia. You have to go from not being in motion to being in motion.
After you’ve done that once? You now know how to overcome inertia. You can just do it again and again until you’ve reached your goal.
Watch out for the perfectionism problem. Our brain wants guarantees that we will succeed and we won’t get hurt. When we focus on the end goal and not the next easy step our brain can get caught up in finding the perfect next step. Because our brain will think this next tiny step isn’t enough to get us to the goal it will try to tell you that it’s not the right step or the perfect step. This is how perfectionism can be crippling. It keeps us thinking that doing a little is pointless. Yet we know the opposite is true. The only way to get to a goal is one step at a time. There are no magic wands in the real world that just create our results in an instant.
Doing a little is EVERYTHING.
Huge accomplishments are built from doing a little, over and over. Think of it this way: If you spend five minutes a day doing thought work, every day, in a year you will have spent THIRTY HOURS working on your brain.
That’s almost a full work week of doing nothing but working on your thoughts.
If you don’t spend those five minutes because it’s “too little” and “doesn’t count”? A year later you will have the exact same thoughts and results you do now.
You’ll have gone nowhere.
A body at rest stays at rest.
You may think there is a world of difference between the person who does 5 minutes a day (or even 5 minutes a week!) of exercise and the person who spends an hour or more a day on it.
On the spectrum of change, the person spending five minutes a day and the person spending an hour a day are so close together, you can barely see between them.
The space between the athlete and someone spending no time on their physical health? All the space in the world.
Now, I want you to think back to a goal you have. It may seem so far from where you’re at.
Choosing easy steps to a goal…
Choosing one easy step to a goal will create concrete action today that will bring you closer to your goal. Now, before you get down on yourself for how insignificant this action seems, consider this:
- What if you believed that getting out of bed every morning to walk for 10 minutes makes you closer to a professional athlete than to someone who doesn’t take that walk?
- Could making an offer to three business leads mean you are closer to Bill Gates than you are to someone who dismissed the idea because it seemed pointless and made no offers at all?
I believe both of those things are true. And that incremental step toward your goal?
It’s an infinite difference.
Advice from Mom…
My mom used to tell me – if you watch your pennies the dollars will take care of themselves. At the time I was a child and all I really heard was look out for pennies, they are important. Honestly – I could buy candy at the store with just 5 of them!!! Now I understand the meaning of the message. If we focus on the small things then the big things won’t be a problem. They are taken care of because the small things add up while we aren’t looking. It’s the same theory – if we just pay attention to the next actionable step we are actually getting ourselves to the goal. We take away the overwhelm of big impossible-looking goals just by taking the easy steps to a goal.