The big picture scares the hell out of me. Does it you?
It may just be me. It could be just in my own head – that overwhelming feeling of setting a big goal and then being overcome with panic when trying to simply gameplan how to get there. Big goals like starting a business, eating strict & clean for 45 days, or paying off debt. You know you need to reach these goals, but when you sit down to start, the size of the task starts to paralyze you.
It’s too much. I have no idea where to start. And most times, we tell ourselves we don’t know where to start and so we don’t. We choose doing nothing over doing something – doing anything at all. We allow the “Goliath” to freeze us in our tracks. And that goal? It starts to haunt us, day after day as something we should do, but something we don’t do.
So how in the world do we move forward when the big picture scares the hell out of us? How the hell do I get my two feet to take one single step today? Here’s what I’ve learned through countless failures – and how those failures taught me to win.
Start Looking at the Pieces
Think of your biggest goal like a jigsaw puzzle. If you poured out a 1,000 piece puzzle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the task at hand. I’ll be honest, a 200-300 piece puzzle would make me feel overwhelmed, and most times we look at our goals the same way we’d look at a table full of scattered puzzle pieces. And panic.
Breaking down the giant goal into tiny individual pieces allows you to look at it in a very manageable perspective. One small task here, followed by another small task, followed by another. You start to build momentum by taking on one small piece after another.
One Moment at a Time
Just like you look at the giant goal in small pieces, you don’t complete a giant puzzle in one move. It’s just like you don’t run a marathon all in one fell swoop. You run all 26.2 miles one step at a time. Focus on just the next step, while keeping your heart on the end goal.
I love donuts. I love whiskey. And I love a good draft beer. But occasionally I like to take breaks and eat clean for a period of time to reset my body. The first day? Easy. The second? Killer. I wonder if you can relate. I start thinking about the next 30 days and my mind runs wild. Can I make it? What if “x” happens? What if I can’t do it? Anything and everything runs through my mind instead of the only thing that matters:
What can I eat next that fits with my end goal?
Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not even tonight. What can I eat for my next meal or snack that is aligned with where I want to be in 30 days. Removing my focus from the horizon briefly to focus on the here and now relieves the pressure of worrying about the future. It returns my focus and energies to the here and now – something I can control and something far, far less daunting than the future.
You will fail. But you will rise. Some of us fall short of our intended goal. We strike out. We grab that cheat meal. We stumble out of the gates. Take a deep breath and know this:
It happens to everyone.
Seriously, everyone. The difference between “most” people and the successful that we look up to is that the successful pick themselves back up, dust themselves off, and go after it again. They are determined to see their goal through. The failure is not fatal. It is simply a setback that they will use as a setup for their upcoming victory.
“Those who are excellent at their work have learned to comfortably coexist with failure. The excellent fail more often than the mediocre. They begin more. They attempt more. They attack more. Mastery lives quietly atop a mountain of mistakes.” – Eric Greitens, Resilience
You fall. You pick yourself back up. You compete every day.
The best way to tackle those overwhelming goals is to beat yesterday. It is the daily practice of doing just a little bit more today than we did yesterday, giving 1% more of ourselves, and pushing ourselves just a small bit more than we did yesterday. It’s about me vs. me, and you vs. you – and no one else.
“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.” – Steve Young
The overwhelming goals in our lives will not be accomplished in a single action. They will take days, months, and sometimes, years. They will require our greatest energies, our strongest will, and our biggest passions – and we will be forever changed by taking the journey. The struggle – the daily battle against anxiety and fear – applies to our sports, our business, our relationships, and our life. It is about breaking the giant goal into bite-sized pieces, and to focus on tackling them one day at a time. I understand that there will be days I fall short, I will go to bed knowing I need to do more. But those days – those terrible, lowly days – will be the motivation to fuel me to do better, give more, and be stronger when I wake the next morning.
You Can. You WILL.
No goal is too big. No obstacle is insurmountable to the spirit who refuses to give up. When I feel overwhelmed, I remember the four points above. I ground myself. I focus on what I can control – me – and I do something – sometimes anything – to make sure I put at least one puzzle piece in its place every day until I finish the set.
And the same applies to you. You get one valuable shot at this life, I hope you set goals bigger than others believe possible – and then Compete until you reach them. I believe in you.