How often have you set out on a project only to find that you never ended up completing it? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve done that I probably wouldn’t have to work much anymore. The truth of it is, a lot of times we go into something and we go ALL IN. The project itself excites us, or the prize at the end, and we list out all of the steps we’ll have to take to complete the task.
But a common theme I’ve noticed in myself and in talking with others is sometimes what we fail to do is truly plan. Instead, we jump right in with both feet, eyes wide open, without giving a second thought to the obstacles that may arise along the way. And then, what happens is we get overwhelmed. At some point in the process it stops being fun, and the glimmer of our endgame gets dimmer and dimmer until we can’t even see it anymore, or forget why we started to begin with.
Or.. another version of this scenario is we have a big goal, but the steps we need to take seem way too big or way too difficult that we don’t even know where to start – so we give up before we even begin.
How many times have you given up on a dream because you let your fears get bigger than your strengths?
Accomplishing ANY goal takes time. But any goal worth achieving doesn’t get accomplished by creating huge steps. Instead, it’s all in the details, and it’s all in setting small little steps and small achievable goals along the way.
For example, you might say that you want to lose weight. You outline the things you’ll want to focus on to get you there:
- Eat healthier
- Cook more vs. going out to eat
- Drink more water
- Cut back on your soda intake
- Get more sleep
When you implement a new plan and change your ENTIRE lifestyle at the drop of a hat, your psyche will go into a shock. Maybe that’s not a scientifically proven or technical way of explaining it, but it’s true. All of a sudden you’ve done a 180 and completely switched your normal routine. And it’s HARD. But you know what isn’t hard? What’s actually pretty easy? Is to become overwhelmed and just give up, because it all seems like too dang much.
Instead of focusing on the big picture and ALL THE THINGS.. it’s important to narrow in your focus and choose one or two small tasks that you can “easily” accomplish. Not only will this make your goals more attainable, but you’ll build confidence along the way.
When I started my weight loss journey I know that I would have been overwhelmed if I looked at the big picture. I never set a goal to lose 75 pounds. If I had, I probably would have cried and ordered a pizza instead. No joke. Instead, I started small.
I was a completely inactive college student who never cooked (unless it was spaghetti), never exercised, and never took care of myself. I drank a lot of soda and a lot of vodka (#truth). I knew I needed to make a change, so I started small.
I would walk every single day to the opposite side of my apartment complex where the apartment “gym” was and I would get on the elliptical. At first – I couldn’t do more than about 5 minutes because I was so deconditioned. I would get my tired butt off the elliptical and then walk back to my apartment. I did this every day until I could build up to 10 minutes, and then 15, and then 20, and so on until I became a master at the elliptical and an hour would feel like nothing.
Then I started experimenting with lifting weights. Eventually throughout this process I graduated college and began working full time at the hospital as a nurse. I began responsibly grocery shopping, budgeting, and cooking meals for myself that would last me more than a day and not burn a hole in my wallet. So I learned how to cook foods that were better for me, too.
And then I started drinking more water, and going out slightly less, and focusing on how much sleep I was getting.
Fast forward some years and I started working out with a trainer. And then a little while later I joined a CrossFit gym. And further down the line I ran a half marathon. And somewhere in there I became certified in nutrition AND became a certified personal trainer.
And throughout the process I lost 75 pounds and I’ve kept it off. And I did this by making small changes in my every day that ultimately got me to where I am right now.
It’s not about a quick fix – those rarely work and when they do, they’re often reversible. Instead, it’s about loving yourself enough to give yourself grace and room to make mistakes. It’s about letting yourself find comfort and find a balance instead of restricting or punishing yourself. And it’s about enjoying the journey and not hating yourself for not being where you feel you should be yet – it’s coming.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Big accomplishments require small steps. What small step are you going to take today?
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.