“Like exercise, you must always stretch out and warm up your mind for the next level of performance.”
Recently, I heard a radio personality, who specializes in finances and paying off debt, recommend a debt-payoff strategy in which you start with paying off the smallest debts first and then slowly work your way up to the largest debt. The idea behind this strategy is so that you can “feel” like you are making progress in paying down your debt, because it is easier to focus and save towards the smaller debt goal while building up momentum to tackle the larger ones.
Eventually, as you get rolling, as the term “debt snowball” implies, you develop more power, strength, and focus towards working harder, saving more, and living like no one else so that later on in life you can truly “live like no else.” (By the way, I really appreciate the financial message of Dave Ramsey. Kudos!)
But can this “start small” approach work in other areas of your life? (I believe so!)
I remember once in my early life as a teen I went through a very unkempt phase. Worn out clothes, overgrown hair and a scraggly beard were the “norm” for me. Eventually, I started to feel a little down and out because of my uncaring self-reflection.
Back then—and even today, as I look back—I would not have consider myself “depressed” or in a state of depression as much as I was merely living in a depressing state. Unknowingly, I was slowly killing my motivation and ambition. My passion for achievement diminished little by little, but I always knew that I wanted more out of life.
I was never one to give up and throw in the towel, so I decided to turn my life around by starting with something simple. Aside from my beliefs and my attitude, I knew one of the first things I could immediately change–because it was something only I could control—was my appearance. I had enough of looking like Captain Caveman, so I tackled the easiest chore on my list of change: shaving my beard.
That’s right, a little bit of hot water, some shaving foam, and several strokes of my disposable razor and I was back on my way to feeling a little more restored. That one tiny action made me want more, which lead to my next small—yet slightly larger—action.
Next on crosshairs was getting a haircut. At that time, my hair wasn’t quite long enough to show off my “Fabio” look and it wasn’t short enough to hide the wavy mess curling out from underneath my favorite cap like a monster octopus. I’m happy to say, twenty dollars later and a layer of locks piled up beneath me, I could immediately—once again—sense the change that was not only happening in the moment but the shift of change to come.
I could just feel that there was more of a spark inside of me that wanted more, and with each small task I was nudging my way towards slightly larger—and more meaningful—tasks. Of course, much of what I was feeling was in large part due to my newly revitalized attention. I was placing it differently than before. (I will share more about controlling attention in an upcoming blog.)
Ultimately, I started grooming myself differently and feeling better because of it. After a while, my spark, my motivation, my passion, and my ambition were all firing at full capacity. I found a way to make even greater strides.
If you want to start making progress on your goals, just remember that your next small goal can be anything. It doesn’t have to be ultra-hard. I do, however, recommend that whatever you do be in alignment with your overall goal.
For example, if you want to lose some weight, maybe start walking for five minutes around your block. You can always increase the time and distance later. If you want to go back to school, maybe look up a few of them online and check out their enrollment requirements. You can always call or make a visit later on. If you want to start a business, maybe buy and read a book on how to create a business plan.
Whatever level you are at, there is always going to be an action that is “easy” for you. Therefore, let’s say you’re in great shape already but you want to become a professional athlete. What is one easy action you take to help get the ball rolling? What if you already have a Master’s degree, what is something you can do to get your doctorate? What if you are already a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, what can you easily do that would move you towards becoming a billionaire?
Only you can answer these questions. Happy creating! 🙂
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