As an ambitious girl, I am an avid list maker and goal setter. On top of it all, I am an Aries. I naturally get bored easily and want to start new projects every day. With all these ideas, projects, and possibilities looping around in my mind, I can sometimes get overwhelmed by my lists and grand visions for the future.
I’m in my early twenties, and I am at the point where I’m still building the foundation of my life and career. Each decision feels almost like life or death. Each action feels like the defining factor between success and failure.
My work in journalism allows me to have the opportunity to meet all kinds of people. I once interviewed a young CEO of a multi-million dollar company. She started her company at age 26 and something she said during our interview has stuck with me to this day. “The motto in my head is just one day at a time,” she said. “If you think too far ahead, or if you worry too far ahead, you may not be able to get out of bed today.”
When you have a big goal or project it’s very easy to become so overwhelmed to the point where you don’t make any progress. You spend so much time looping the thoughts in your head of what you should be doing, what you need to be doing, and how worried you are that you will get it all wrong, that it ends up paralyzing you to take action.
As I enter this new year, and take on new projects while solidifying what I have in the works right now I took some time to reflect on best practices to balance it all. Here are some tips to help you take things “one day at a time.”
1- Small Steps
Another favorite quote of mine is from Robert Collier. “Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.” When you have a big goal or project, take a look at it and break it down into mini tasks and steps. Put a deadline on each of those mini steps, and eventually it will add up to the bigger picture. Remember, a book is not just a story, it’s a series of letters that become words, and a series of words that become sentences, and groups of sentences that become paragraphs and a series of paragraphs that become pages. Even something as trivial as going out for a night on the town, you often break down getting ready into steps: shower, then hair and make up, then get dressed, then your shoes and accessories. Each step adds up to your look for the night. Anything, big or small can be broken up into small action steps.
2- Understand there are two different types of thoughts. Recognize it and make dedicated time for both.
I recently read an eye-opening article in Forbes about the tendency for creative people to become mentally exhausted because they’re thinking both long term and short term thoughts at the same time. This is bad because “they require different types of thinking, which come from different rhythms inside your brain.” There’s convergent thinking which includes our day to day activities and to-do lists. It’s the post-its, and daily calendar items, the reminder to do the laundry and to email that executive back. There’s also divergent thinking which are our big picture goals, our thoughts of where life could take us and the possibilities of what’s next. These are your plans of eventually maybe going to grad school, or starting your own company, or living in another country. Recognize these two types of thoughts and make time to explore each individually. Never do both at the same time — it will lead to mega stress and anxiety. Carve out a separate dedicated time for each!
3- Ask for help.
If you have a big idea or initiative, it might help to bring others on board. This will be a great opportunity to share the work, and give you some leadership experience. If you are tackling something that only you can do, still don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get advice from mentors, friends and family. They may have key insight to offer that can help you breakdown your vision into bite size action steps.
4- Have patience.
Things won’t happen overnight. There’s a million cliches: “Rome wasn’t built in a day” blah blah. But these sayings exist for a reason. Do the work, build relationships, take risks and recognize the importance of timing. Your vision won’t come to light over night, but when it does, you will be ready, your work will be solid and your spirit will be ready to receive the blessing.
What tips do you have to add to our list?