Growth and progress hurt. But so does being stationary. Muscles wither, strength is lost and what could have been remains just that. A quote on a friend’s wall reminded me today that although it hurts to blossom, it’s a far more painful thing to remain in a place that is less than where you know you want to be…
If, like me, you’ve been a life-long planner only to realize that at least half of what you plan never turns out the way you planned it, then you’re probably looking for a new approach. I wrote, at the close of 2011, about how I was trying to approach 2012 differently. No big plans or goals and few definite timetables – less intention and more direction.
It’s a good thing too, because in the first month of the new year, my workload has unexpectedly increased, a couple of unanticipated projects have come my way and…my laptop crashed. Died. Destroyed. Failed. So there go my big plans for January, 2012 …except I hadn’t really made any. For once.
Instead, I’d been making small changes to get rid of bad habits and replace them with good ones. Every single day – not declaring intention, but instead heading in the direction of the place I want to be. And no, (ok, very few) goals. In his guest post on Zen Habits, Jeff Goins wrote about what to do instead of setting goals…
There is an alternative to setting goals that will bring you closer to the life you want. Focus on a few practices you can enjoy doing on a regular basis. The trick here is consistency. These four helped me:
- Get up early. When the world wakes up, distractions abound. If you are going to focus on creating a new life for yourself, you’ll need to find the time. The best way to do this is to work while others are sleeping. At first, I didn’t like waking up before the sun, but eventually my body adjusted and I began looking forward to the solitude.
- Over-commit. The adage “under-promise and over-deliver” is a farce. It only propagates the status quo. Real difference-makers push boundaries. They test, prod, and poke until something gives. You can do this, too, by saying “yes” to more things than you’re comfortable with. Learn to stretch yourself. You might be surprised by what you’re actually capable of. Your confidence will grow, too.
- Talk to strangers. Relationships are what make the world go round. This is true for your career, personal well-being, and inner life. When you meet new people, you make connections that can lead to all kinds of future breakthroughs. Even when it’s uncomfortable, reach out and introduce yourself to new people. The worst they can say is “no.” Fortunately, many won’t.
- Practice generosity. Give away your time, money, services, and ideas. When you do this, you will get a lot more than you give. People will learn to trust you, and if you really help them, they will tell others about you. This will build your reputation, and you will have more friends than you know what to do with. And as the saying goes, what goes around really does come around.
You can read Jeff Goins’ entire post here. How much closer are you to giving up the life you’ve planned for the life that’s waiting for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on our Facebook page.
Editor’s Note: Big Daddy Kane lyrics aside, we’ve all heard the expression, “one step at a time.” But what if you feel like you don’t have the time/energy/motivation for even one step? What about a half-step? In the latest post on his website Zenhabits, Leo Babauta shares some wisdom on getting unstuck, a challenge so many of us face in our 40s. He reminds us that sometimes getting unstuck doesn’t require a huge leap. Sometimes all it takes is a tiny half step in the right direction…
You’d be surprised to know how many emails I get where people are stuck in their lives.
They’re broke, or unmotivated, or in a job they hate, or they can’t find their passion, or they can’t get motivated to get healthy.
And they don’t know where to start.
It hurts to read these emails. It brings back to life the pain I lived through not too many years ago, when I too was stuck.
I know the feeling of despair when you are unhappy with your life and don’t know how to change. When you’ve tried lots of changes, but couldn’t find the discipline to make them stick. When you feel crappy about yourself because you know you should get off your butt and start improving your life, but you’d rather put it off for another day.
Problems go away when you ignore them, right?
I also know that there is really only one way out of this mire of despair.
It’s to take an action, no matter how tiny.
You don’t need to fix everything in your life right now. You don’t even need to fix one thing.
You just need to do one little, miniscule, almost nothing thing.
Make a list. Go outside and take a walk. Get rid of some of your junk food. Clear off your kitchen table. Cancel something tomorrow so you can make time to create something, no matter how small.
Don’t do all of these. Do one. Or half of one, or one thousandth. It doesn’t matter how small — the smaller, the better.
Take that first step. Celebrate that first step. Love the step, not the destination. That step, even the motion of taking the first foot off the ground and moving it forward — that’s everything.
That’s the truth, and you’ll not read it in many self-help books: put every microparticle of your existence into that half step, and be nothing but that half step, and love it with all you have … and your life has changed.
With this half step, everything is different. You haven’t achieved any goals … but you’ve moved. You haven’t created something amazing … and yet, more than ever before, you have.
You’ve created beauty and joy and movement where none existed before, where previously only constriction and paralysis and confusion lived. You have changed the world.
The First Habit
Choose one little habit to add joy to your life. Just one, and tiny is miraculous.
It can be writing or painting or making music for 2 minutes a day. It can be a ridiculously easy walk or jog or enjoying a bowl of fruit. It can be 2 minutes of meditation or reflecting in a journal.
Enjoy the hell out of it.
Create this one habit, and you have a success. This is a foundation, a first step, to build on.
Then you can do a second, and a third, but you can’t do those without a first.
Don’t change your entire life. Just change this one little thing.
You’d be amazed how much that matters. I was.
What’s one little thing you can change in your life today? Will you take that half step?
Read Leo Babaut’s original post on half stepping here.