You remember the beginning. Back when you could see the change you wanted to make. You were wildly excited about the new you that was just around the corner.
Seems a little naive now. Now it’s getting hard. You think, maybe where I am is ok. I can circle back to this later when I have more time and energy. Plus you feel like you’re just plodding along, not really getting anywhere.
The end is not in sight, and you aren’t sure you’ll actually be able to make it there. You’re just flat out tired of having to drag yourself along when you aren’t even sure it’s worth it. We all face this when we try to start something new.
If you are doing anything outside of your comfort zone, you are likely to hit a wall. But getting through it doesn’t have to feel like you’re digging yourself out of prison with a spoon. Instead, it can feel like winning all the time, or a lot of the time anyway, even though getting to your actual goal may be a long way off. The key is to have little wins along the way.
Here’s 10 categories where you can find an easy win. Then you can let that momentum keep you headed towards your goals:
1. Take it easy (productivity)
On your list of to-dos, there is a spectrum of stuff that is really hard that is super easy. Focus on the easy, quick stuff. Maybe it’s a quick reply to an email or paying that bill you’ve been meaning to pay. Doesn’t matter. Take the 20 seconds and do it.
2. Who you calling lazy? (fitness)
Everyone wants to be more fit. So take a step towards that goal and you get a win. No need to train for a marathon here, we are talking small, incremental wins, not big insurmountable things.
Do something that is slightly taxing, but nothing that sends you to the showers (for example, 5 pushups, 20 bodyweight squats, or 20 sit-ups)
3. Your body is a temple (health)
When you are in the depths of fighting tooth and nail to keep yourself headed towards your goals, you can pretty easily forget to make healthy choices. Plus you use up most of your willpower just trying to stick to your goals, so saying no to the cookie is that much harder.
Get a healthy win by taking a break from the continual flow of caffeinated liquids and have some regular old water. You know, the stuff literally every cell in your body needs. Chug a full glass. Then bask in the glory of doing something right for your body.
4. Put your mind to it (mental)
It can be overwhelming to manage the ever increasing to-do list in your head. Which often leads to just giving up or spinning your wheels on unimportant tasks so you feel like you are doing something. But the reality is, if you would take a moment, and give yourself, and your brain, a break so that you could make an intentional choice about what to do next, you would be far better off.
This win gives you that break. Stop what you are doing and take 5 deep belly breaths through your nose (or your mouth if your nose is stuffy). I’m not saying you will have the clarity of the Dalai Lama, but it will give you an opportunity to objectively look at what you are doing and decide whether you need to redirect your efforts or just keep plugging along.
5. Friends are forever (social)
When we really hit the doldrums of trying to keep momentum with our new change, we can feel isolated and lonely. And that makes it hard to keep going.
So go get an easy win that reminds you that you aren’t actually all alone. Go smile at someone and ask them how their day is going. That will remind you that you aren’t on an island, and that’s a big win that we all need periodically.
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” – Phyllis Diller
6. You deserve a break today (leisure)
When you feel like you just want to quit, it might be that you just need to. You might need a break. A chance to catch your breath and recharge your batteries. So take a break. It’s a win if it’s intentional.
7. Blood is thicker than water (family)
Your family can suffer when you are in the nitty gritty of making a big change happen. It’s not good, but it’s pretty normal to take them for granted, spending your energy on pushing through, instead of showing them you appreciate them.
So send your mom, your dad, your spouse, your sibling, or your kid a text. Tell them you were thinking about them and that you love and appreciate them. That’s it. It’ll take less than a minute. And it will feel good. It will also make them feel good.
8. We only get one earth (sustainability)
Whether or not you are super concerned about climate change or the environment, just about everyone can agree that sustainability is a good thing.
Find something sitting around that can be recycled, and then put it in a recycling bin.
9. Pigsties aren’t a great place to work or live (cleanliness)
People say that a pretty good indication of whether you are mentally organized is to look at where you live and work.
That may or may not be true (or maybe I just don’t want to admit to the truth of it…), but when your workspace is messy, it adds an item to your already overwhelming to-do list (even if it’s just in the back of your head).
So clear yourself of that burden by tidying up your workspace. You will pretty much instantly feel like you have more control over things, including the pursuit of your goal.
“Belief in oneself is incredibly infectious. It generates momentum, the collective force of which far outweighs any kernel of self-doubt that may creep in.” – Aimee Mullins
This one is specific to you and the type of work you are doing. Ask yourself the following questions: First, what do you need to get done tomorrow to keep moving towards your goal. Second, what is the next thing you can do today to set yourself up to succeed tomorrow. Then do that.
Next time sticking to your goal feels like walking through quicksand, pick an easy win and make it happen. Let yourself enjoy the success. Instead of looking at the path to your goal as a long trek through the desert, look at it as a huge single-elimination tournament.
You need hundreds of wins to get to the championship, your ultimate goal. But, as you work your way through the bracket, you can celebrate each one of those wins, making the journey fun, instead of such a huge chore. So set up your bracket, give yourself smaller tasks as wins.
And when you feel stuck, turn to one of the easy wins above to get a little momentum and a pick me up. Then get back to it, and win the next one. Do that, and the bracket will fall away. Before you know it, you’ll be hoisting the trophy and celebrating your own personal championship.