“Nothing great is ever easy”
— Captain Webb, first man to swim the English Channel
This week I’d like to talk about how the tough keep going when the going gets tough, when there seem to be just too many steps in the journey, or oarstrokes in the voyage.
Something I’ve learned (although I still have to remind myself of it on a frequent basis!) is that it really helps to keep your focus small and close. Just do the next thing on your list.
Of course you need to know where you’re going. That’s why you have a vision.
And of course you need to have a plan – I find a 90-day plan works best for most projects, as too many external changes are likely to happen if you plan any further ahead, so you’ll end up having to re-do the plan anyway if you go out longer than three months. (I prefer to say 90 days rather than 3 months, because it reminds me that every single day counts.)
So having a grand vision and a 90-day plan help you get the overall direction mapped out.
But once those are done, put them aside and just look at Day 1, Task 1. And do that.
Do it with all your attention, love and mindfulness. And when it’s finished (and not before!) look to see what Task 2 is. And set about doing that one equally single-mindedly. And just keep putting one foot in front of the other in that way.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with thoughts of all the things that come after it. That way lies insanity – or at least, a major slump in motivation. I know – I made that mistake on the Atlantic. I looked at 3,000 miles of rowing, and unsurprisingly felt overwhelmed. I started skipping shifts, thinking “I can always make up for it later”. But skipping shifts caused damage much greater than the missed hours of rowing – it was the message I was giving myself that “I am the kind of person who lacks discipline”. Once I realised I had to just keep showing up and sticking my oars in the water, 12 hours a day, motivated or not, life got an awful lot easier.
The world needs huge change, and it needs courageous, visionary change agents to manifest that. But for the change agents themselves, that prospect can be, frankly, terrifying.
Think of it as an elegant dance between focusing on what needs to be done right this moment, with occasional dashes to the top of the mountain to remind yourself of where you’re going, and why you’re going there. Take your time, appreciating the smallness of your focus, relishing your attention to detail. By infusing every tiny task with love and quality, the end result can’t help but be magnificent.
Q: What do you think? Have you tried this approach? Did it work? Or maybe not?! Please share your thoughts in the comments.
And a HUGE apology to all those lovely people who commented on the last two blog posts. For some reason best known to itself, my blog software went from letting me know when people comment, to not letting me know. So when I didn’t get any notifications, I assumed you’d all stopped loving me. 🙁 And was then delighted when I logged on to find I had loads of comments! 🙂 It’s taking me a bit of time to work through them, but I will reply to them all. Thanks for your patience!