In the 21st century, things happen fast. Instant connectivity to everything we need means we’ve become accustomed to lightning-quick gratification. Even those of us who grew up when things moved more slowly – think rotary phones, snail mail, and no home or pocket computers – can barely imagine what life would be like without same-day delivery, the ability to answer a work email anywhere anytime, and real-time GPS.
Since the world moves so swiftly, we think we should, too. In everything we do. At work, at home, out in the world – we’re all obsessed with speed. In terms of setting and achieving goals, whether they’re personal or professional, this means that any outcome we desire, we feel like we have to make it happen right now.
If we don’t someone else will, and we get left behind. The frontrunners speed ahead while we’re left holding the ball – because we weren’t fast enough.
No one wants that.
Faced with this dilemma, we become too ambitious. Not with regards to the size of our goals, but in how we decide to achieve them. We think we can expedite outcomes by taking larger steps, and fewer of them. That way – we tell ourselves – we can keep pace and not get left in the dust.
There’s only one problem with that approach: when we see the size of the steps we’ve set for ourselves, we start to freak out. We tighten up. We become apprehensive. Our confidence drops and so does our productivity.
No one wants that, either.
Bite Size Bits
When I was young, there was a hilarious book of simple, black-and-white cartoons around my house called “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head.” I’ve never forgotten this turn of phrase. I think it stuck with me because it’s sage advice, which we should all take to heart when we’re planning to achieve a goal of any size.
When we eat a meal, we need to cut it up into small pieces or we choke. When we construct a path to a desired outcome, we need to create a logical series of small, achievable steps or we stumble. Steps that lead in the right direction. Steps we know we can achieve. Steps we can knock out with no problem, that don’t overwhelm or intimidate us.
Steps that lead, one at a time, to our goal. When we make things discrete and manageable, we conserve mental energy, we’re less stressed, and we’re far more likely to achieve what we want. And we actually get there faster – which is, of course, something we all want.