“And then it happened, after 12 years of hard work, I was an overnight success” I read this in Jay Samit’s book, Disrupt yourself, and loved it. Life is incremental. Hard work adds up, and pays off. Little by little, the actions you take and choices you make build upon each other, to equip you with skill, character, strength, intelligence, mastery – but none of these attributes come instantly.
One small choice builds upon a myriad of other choices… but it starts with one.
Several months ago, I watched the movie, Wild. In it, the main character, Cheryl, was going to hike the Pacific trail from California to Oregon. 1,100 miles! It’s a long journey, and such a journey seems impossible when you start out. So, she afforded herself the luxury of quitting whenever she didn’t want to go any further. That mental loophole was all she needed to actually start. The first day of her journey, she looked at the journey ahead and thought to herself “I’ll just do one day”. And she did. But she kept going and finished the entire distance that she had set out to accomplish – and then some!
Life is fluid. Paths change from our original goal. Play-doh started as wallpaper cleaner. YouTube originally started as a dating site. The path changes, but it wouldn’t without that first action.
I’ve been contemplating lately how incremental life is, when this morning I received an email from James Clear. He wrote a blog post on a challenge he is doing – The Tiny Gains Challenge. In addition to being a brilliant and inspirational mind, James Clear is a body builder. This challenge is fitness related and the basic premise is to add one pound of weight each week to one exercise. One pound seems like nothing. The change is effortless. Yet, 20 weeks later, you will be strong enough to do the same exercise with 20 more pounds than you can today. If you were to attempt to add 20 pounds to one exercise today – it just might seem impossible.
The principle applies to anything. They say if you read 100 books on a subject you will be in the top 3% of your field. That goal starts by reading just a few pages. To run a marathon, start by running half a mile. To write a book, write the first brief. To be happier, do something that makes you smile. To learn a language, learn to say ‘hello’. I’m convinced we can do anything we set our minds to do. It just starts with a dream, and the courage to take the first step. One step isn’t so intimidating is it?
Go as far as you can see and when you get there, you will see further. It may seem intimidating to ‘go as far as you can see’ – but the journey starts with one step. Take one step in the direction of your dreams.
Then, keep going!