I spoke in an earlier piece, Micromanaging the Path to Success, about the importance of harnessing our innate pleasure-seeking behavior along with our “here and now” societal shift to focus solely on the task at hand. Often times, lofty goals are coupled with undue, self-inflicted pressure. Successful people, along with those looking to propel themselves into such a paradigm, are often creatures of immense self-criticism. You will often hear successful individuals are their own self-proclaimed “worst critic”. Again, herein lies another tie to an earlier article, Self-Assessment, which speaks to the importance of being honest with oneself and constantly striving for personal improvement with a healthy degree of passion and vigor. All of these practices of successful people that we have discussed can be seemingly overwhelming, especially when one is in the infancy stages of beginning a personal journey. We first find ourselves with a goal or self-vision, inevitably followed shortly thereafter at the crucial “where do I start” juncture.
Whatever your idea of personal success is, you’ll find that there are innumerable parallelisms between your ultimate goal and the preceding stepping stones along the way. If we understand the vitality of these stones and how to step on them correctly, we’ll eventually get to the other side. Some individuals quit their journey the instant they find how treacherous the river that blocks the shore of success can be. This is an easy fix, so long as we approach the river in the correct manner.
The best way to understand these stones is first, conceptualize the fact that they are individual endeavors. In the aforementioned Micromanaging the Path to Success, we discussed to concept of viewing each of our daily tasks as individual milestones with precision and motivation. When looking at the broader spectrum of day, viewing each and every task as a singular mountain the needs climbed and approaching it as such can be overwhelmingly exhausting. Again, we are at a crossroads of sorts. How do we manage through all of these tasks with optimal effort without being too engulfed in our goals and, moreover, neglectful of our energy and life outside of our interpersonal desires?
The key is to make each task habit. You’ll often hear that successful individuals are “creatures of habit”. They have been stepping on the river’s stones for so long that they often are monotonous in their approach. Let’s consider bodybuilders as an exemplary analogy. Bodybuilders epitomize habit. They don’t conscientiously consider the importance of each meal. When constructing and changing a plan they do, however, their daily meals are eaten with little thought. That’s a mindset that has become second nature to them. Likewise with training; training hard is simply a habit. All of the stones that physique competitors need to step on to cross their individual rivers eventually become habit.
As with most things, I look for how bodybuilding and the practices therein can lend itself to giving me clues for success elsewhere. Anytime we find ourselves looking up stream to a goal, we need to take one step at a time. Pick one stepping stone and focus solely on that for a given amount of time. Working with clients has afforded me the opportunity to work with a varying level of athletes, though for most of them the term “athlete” is a huge misnomer! When I start working with individuals who are sedentary, have horrible diets, and wouldn’t know what a gym was if they woke up in one, the task of getting in shape seems insurmountable to them. That’s where I put this concept into practice. A full-fledged diet and training routine inevitably ends in failure, if of course, the individual is several stones away. For many, the first stone is simply hydration and increasing daily water intake. Shortly thereafter, this becomes a habit. The client doesn’t need to constantly think about tracking their water intake. They drink water out of habit, are healthier as a result, and then are adequately prepared to step on the next stone.
Regardless of water river you so choose, remember this: the journey of a thousand ‘stones’ begins with a single step. Micromanage, find your stone, and get hoppin’. Certainly don’t get discouraged if you get a little wet along the way.