002: Monumental Change Takes Minimal Effort
I know I know, that sounds like something from one of those motivational posters you’d see hanging in your bosses office if you worked for a rental car company in the mid-2000’s that focused on career development and upward mobility. ‘TEAMWORK - Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’. But this is not intended to be clickbait. It is something I truly believe in and it’s how I focus my work. Monumental Change Takes Minimal Effort.
When we begin to think about a big task our first instinct is to go through a mental list of all the things needed to complete it. Our second instinct is to then make a list of all the reasons we won’t be able to do those things. ‘I don’t have the time’. ‘I don’t have the money’. ‘I need to wait until I’m better prepared’. It’s easy to look at a big task and fail before you even start. But in order to be successful you need to break out of that habit. The first thing to realize is that your initial instinct is great, and it is needed. When you run through that mental list of all the things you’d need to do to complete this project you are creating a blueprint - write that shit down! Get really specific and note all of these thoughts, just brain dump and don’t edit in the moment. But now you’ll need to break your bad habit. Instead of thinking of all the obstacles you are going to face, start thinking about the resources you’ll need to complete these tasks. How much time it will take for each step, how much money will be needed to be successful, who you can reach out to for help or information. Instead of creating a mental list of how you’re going to fail you need to create a detailed list of how you will succeed.
The real reason we fail (or more often why don’t start at all), is because we look at these type of projects in their entirety. We see all the work ahead and put it in the present moment. We mentally take on the entire task all at once - it seems so big, so intimidating, so impossible. A huge mountain in front of us. ‘How could I ever possibly get to the top?’ The answer to the question is an easy one - by taking one step. The reality is that it only ever takes one step, one little step gets you closer. And then you take one more. If you focus on the mountain - you’ll fail. If you focus on the moment and the next step, over time you will succeed.
‘So how do I start today?’ That’s an easy one too. What’s that big project you want to complete? Get out a pen an paper and start writing down all the things you’ll need to do to complete it. Seriously, get out a pen and paper and start writing. It’ll take 5 min, I can wait.
Now that’s your blueprint. Your blueprint will change over time. Something might end up not working out, so you’ll have to find another way. But keep taking little steps to get there. Each day, knock off a task from the to-do list. Chunking down a project like this makes it possible. ‘But I have a to-do list and there are things that I never check off, I just keep moving them to the next to do list’. That’s because you haven’t broken it down far enough, the item is too big to do at once. ‘Book Fall Tour’ is not an item for your to-do list. ‘Write a list of possible venues’, ‘draft template email for booking inquiry’, ‘send email to 5 venues’ - those are tangible task you can take on and complete. After 2 weeks you’ll be much closer to the goal than you would if you didn’t break these projects down into smaller tasks.
Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can do in a year. That's not an original thought of mine, someone much smarter came up with it. You’re not going to get to the top of that mountain in one big jump. But each day take a few steps to get closer. Before you know it you’ll have reached the summit and be ready to find the next mountain to climb.