Here we are, a month into the new year, can you believe it?
How’s it going for you?
The New Year is infused with a monumental surge of energy; you’d have to be stuck in a cave somewhere to miss it. People far and wide publicly declare their intentions, goals, and desires for the upcoming year.
It can be exciting, or it can be overwhelming.
Perhaps you haven’t done your goal declaring; maybe you’re just trying to get into the swing of it. Or perhaps you’ve planned out this year to the T and are moving forward like a freight train.
Whether you’re motivated, inspired, and bouncing into your year, or you’re pulling your feet out of quicksand, begging them to generate some momentum, one thing is for certain:
Subtle, small actions always yield the greatest momentum.
I think there’s a bit of a danger, bursting out of the New Year gate like some souped-up racehorse, only to burn out on the second lap. And yet, there is equal danger in lingering behind the start line paralyzed by the bright lights, thinking you’ll catch up.
The New Year can be like a sugar high – up-up-up, then crash. And that’s the last thing I want for you. Oh no, that won’t do at all. Building your successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.
Every single day you declare your intention. It’s not a set it and forget it kind of thing. You don’t get to declare your intention once at the beginning of the year and then promptly forget about it for the next twelve months to come. But you already know that. I know you do.
The most important tool you can master, whether your energy is high or dipping, is to stay in vigilant contact with your feelings.
Notice the dips. Notice the highs.
Take note of how your goals and intentions make you feel. What do they do to your energy?
I want to give you two different examples because you will, at some point, find yourself in one of the following two camps. And here’s what I want you to know: no matter which one you find yourself in, the solution is the same.
Example: The Souped-Up Racehorse
Okay, you’re excited, you’re setting goals, making plans, creating content, booking clients like mad and you’re practically a blur of actions.
The first question to ask yourself is: Am I feeling good?
All too often we think it feels good but if we really stopped to reflect we’d discover that in all actuality we’re running at a pace that cannot possibly be sustained. That is a recipe for burnout, my friend. Pay attention because burnout is a sly beast and it’s easy to continue pushing long after you needed a break. And more often than not, we don’t do anything about it until it’s too late.
Now let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum.
Example: The Deer in the Headlights
You know how this feels, right? The onslaught of goal setting has you feeling intimidated and despairing, and yet you know you have to do something, anything. Only what?
What do you do first? What do you give up? Whose advice do you follow? And how will you ever figure it all out? So instead of taking any action, you find yourself paralyzed. You shuffle a few more papers, you make a few more calls to check in with your peers, and you spend some time on Facebook (again). You can almost hear the time ticking away and the calendar pages flipping – all without you reaching your goals. It feels bad. Real bad. And yet, you can’t seem to move.
What if there was another way?
What if you could recognize these situations sooner rather than later? What if you had a different way of responding?
The Solution: “Slow Down to Speed Up”
I tell my clients this all the time. I’m like a broken record on this topic.
I know it seems counterintuitive. Well, it is. It’s not what we’re taught. It doesn’t seem like it will help anything. And yet it does.
Whether you’re feeling like the souped-up racehorse or the deer in the headlights, taking small – very small – actions toward feeling better is going to be your best bet.
Make it subtle; make it small.
If you’re going a million miles an hour (like the souped-up racehorse), maybe you can send one less email, or forgo that large project that will put you over the edge.
I’m not saying don’t take action; I’m certainly not saying go into full retreat and do nothing.
What I’m suggesting is that you learn to take account of how you feel and make subtle shifts before you end up crushed under a pile of unobserved feelings (and unachievable goals).
If you’re feeling like the deer in the headlights, that’s okay too. Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to jump from zero to sprinting; you have to take steps in between to get there, don’t you? Well, the same theory applies to changing your energy. If you’re feeling a bit blah about setting goals, or talking to clients, or producing your next product, the worst thing you can do is force yourself into action without priming your energy. Take small steps to feeling better. Then write your goals, talk to clients, and develop your next program.
Small steps don’t have to take forever. The process can move quickly. Simply make it your intention to feel a little better – cup of tea, long walk, gratitude list, thoughtful email – and before you know it you’ll be wanting (not dreading) to take the actions you’ve been avoiding.
Small steps do add up. Small actions taken regularly add up to success.
So find the next step you CAN take and then take it. Just that step. Ready? Let’s go!