Thinking big is great, but huge goals may take time to reach. Don’t forget the small achievements we can make—they’ll also add up to big, positive change!
Two seemingly contradictory schools of thought suggest that we should be focused on ‘one big goal’ and only undertake actions that will lead to that goal. If the goal is big enough and compelling enough, this supposedly can keep us focused for a year, a decade or a lifetime.
The other school suggests that we should be focused on the next thing. Do it and look up to see where you are and what has changed and then take the next step. Apparently, this will help us be aware of the shifting conditions and lead us on a more realistic and interesting path.
The schools might be called Destination and Journey. My tendency is to Destination and traveling with me can be painful for weak bladders. I get moving early and keep moving as long as possible or until the X on the map (read atlas, bank account, miles run …) is reached. But I know that when I have taken the time and made the effort to lift my head the trip has been at least as effective and usually more enjoyable.
Part of leaning into uncertainty is playing against tendencies. If I prefer to be a rebel, as defined by Gretchen Rubin, I should take on the role of upholder for 20% of the situations I encounter. If I am usually a questioner, I may want to try being an obliger.
We have developed hundreds of other preferences based on our upbringing and our life experiences (nurture) and may have been born with hundreds of other natural dispositions.
Are you up to playing against your instincts this week?
Is today the day you take the plunge? Are you standing at the top of the precipice counting down to one? Have you been standing at the ready for more than a few weeks? Is fear paralyzing you or have you not firmly committed to the next step?
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, famous 19th C German philosopher is best known for an inspirational quote. “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.” The most quoted piece is a portion of a longer and I think far more profound quote.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
It isn’t in the dreaming that magic happens, it is in the commitment. If you have been planning and re-planning a new venture, a new idea, a new product, a new relationship but haven’t acted then you may be trapped in hesitancy and ineffectiveness.
It is easy to say “that every journey begins with a single step” but so cliche as to be virtually useless. The first step is important but it is in the third and fourth that momentum towards the splendid plan. There isn’t a magic bullet, a secret incantation or elixir that will move you. It takes courage to be committed and a recognition that you are stepping into the unknown. For some of us it is a jungle for others a city park, nonetheless perceived as a great risk. You may never overcome some of the fear but courage isn’t acting in the absence of fear or by simply ignoring it. Courage happens in spite of acknowledging the risks and barriers and moving ahead anyway.
In most coaching that I do, we work to find small steps that make taking the big one more manageable. When you are perched at the top, fighting between jumping or retreating, there aren’t any small steps. It isn’t my judgement or my decision – it is yours. But if you have done some homework (remember you can’t know everything) and are now conflicted it can be as simple as trust. Trust is a choice that we make and once made becomes invisible. Trust yourself and your intuition (framed by your life experiences, observations and research) and act. This isn’t a flip of the coin – heads I go tails I retreat. The decision is waiting for you to make it. Trust yourself and respect the choice. If you leap – good luck. If you retreat – you still are better for having made the decision.
Today is the day to test your commitment. Trust your gut. Breathe and act. Accept the results and consequences and celebrate whatever the outcome.