‘What are my goals this month?’
‘What is important right now?’
‘What do I want to do better in?’
When I ask myself these questions, my mind immediately races with the myriad of things I want to improve. I want to eat better, stress less, exercise more, spend more time on the important things at work, find more time for me, spend more quality time with the kids, and my husband. Competing priorities, all really important to me. It is tempting to then try and do a little bit of each of them. Squeeze in a date night. Go for a walk by myself. Resolve to cook healthier meals. 2 weeks later however, very little has changed. Very little progress has been made. Nothing gets traction. Everything feels exactly the same.
Too much going on at once.
Rather than trying to do everything at once, choose one thing and do it well.
You are more productive if you do one thing at a time as you go about your day. The same applies to your goals. Just try to win one race at a time. Refine your focus to one, important thing.
What is the one aspect of your life that needs the most attention, some extra effort this month? What feels the most frustrating? Which aspiration will feel the best once achieved? Is it feeling calmer and more rested? Finishing that big, nagging project once and for all? Or Feeling stronger and fitter? Which outcome will boost me the most? If I can only have one, which one would it be?
Visible, tangible improvements in one thing, are better than small improvements in lots of things.
They feel more satisfying. They are more likely to last. The daily habits will be more entrenched. Your mind will be calmer, and clearer about what is important to you.
There is a common theme in online fitness programmes, 100 squats for 100 days, or Move your body for 30 minutes for 30 days. It is the same principle, focus on one thing for 30 days, and you are guaranteed to make decent progress. But you can adopt the same approach with anything in your life.
I have seen clients do it successfully by focusing on their relationship for 30 days. Every single day, do something that is good for your relationship. They make their relationship their biggest a priority for a month, spending more time together, saying no to commitments that take away from the relationship, paying extra attention to each other, exercising together. There are hundreds of things you can do. But if you do one of them every single day, your relationship is warmer and more connected quickly.
If you are beating yourself up about your health, then focus on that for 30 days. Do something concrete every single day. They may only be small things, but they add up. If you get an extra hour sleep every day for a month, you will feel considerably better by the end of the month. If you eat 2 more vegetable serves, if you stretch for 5 minutes, if you run up the stairs, they don’t sound like big things. Easy to adopt. So it is tempting to see them as inconsequential. But if you commit to these small things, and do them every single day, you will see some big changes.
Being a better parent is a common one to focus on. Or self-care. Or a specific project (this will be the month I sort the family photos, once and for all!). If you set a start date, and an end date, and commit to doing what it takes in the days between, you are setting yourself up to succeed.
There are a few tricks to making it work.
- No exceptions. Every single day. No going to bed without doing it.
- Set the bar lowish so that you can always achieve it. Don’t commit to something that will need 3 hours every single night after work. Its so much. Half an hour a day still days up to 15 hours after a month.
- Take a ‘get on with it’ attitude. If you have the mindset that you will just start exercising within 5 minutes of getting up. That you will start writing your blog within 2 minutes of sitting down at your desk.
- Be vigilant for anything that threatens to get in the way. Be protective of your project!
After 30 days you will have achieved something. It will be noticeable, and you will feel satisfied. Most importantly, you will have shifted to a belief that you can stick with things, that you can achieve your goals.