As I’m still coming out of my food coma from last Thanksgiving week, I’m marveling at how everything is determined by tiny steps and tiny choices. I just finished 75Hard – which is an intense 75-day program with so many requirements that you don’t have any choice but to create awesome habits. I had to wake up at 4 am every day just to get it all in. We finished a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and I was excited to take a few days off, have some drinks, make everyone’s favorite desserts, enjoy family time. It’s the best. I was really looking forward to my cheesecake, which is my high school best friend’s mom’s recipe I’ve been making for 30 years. She used to make it for us all the time, and it’s heaven.
I love all of those things, and it’s great to relax, take some rest days, let yourself have all of your favorite treats, spend time off. AND, I noticed how quickly those teeny tiny steps created a deep desire to take more steps in that direction! They say it takes 66 days to create a habit, but man, I think it takes me 12 seconds to undo them all. One bite of cheesecake makes me want another one tomorrow and more tomorrow and more the next day. One mimosa makes me want to have another! Watching junk shows on Netflix makes me want to keep watching another episode and another. Then since I’m up late anyway, I’ll have another glass of wine and another bite of cheesecake. Then because I stayed up too late doing all of that stuff, I don’t want to get up and I don’t want to go to the gym. Then because of all of those decisions combined from yesterday, I feel like crap. and I want to watch more Netflix and do it all over again.
When you can look at things objectively with no shame or blame, you can learn so much! I didn’t care about my gluten/sugar/wine pooch, but it was so crazy how it took five seconds to be bloated all over, and my eyes so so puffy in the mornings. I knew I’d get back at it after a couple of days, but I was amazed at discovering (again) two things: 1.) How lazy I truly am—let’s be honest, I don’t like waking up at 4 am, and I love wine and cheesecake. And 2.) how powerful our teeny tiny actions are. One decision creates a snowball effect in only one direction.
Each decision is either gathering more snow and speed in the direction that you really want to go, or it’s gathering more snow and speeding the direction you don’t want to go. I think that notion that we stay in the same place is a myth. Nothing is neutral. Everything we do, every action, every thought takes us in the direction of something.
But then when I got my hungover ass out of bed and went hiking on Saturday morning, I remembered how much I love to be outdoors, I love the sunshine, I love wandering around in the mountains, and just taking that action makes me want to take more of that action! So we got up Sunday morning and did the same thing! We have a goal to read 30 books this year, and we’re behind, so we have to read extra every day, but when I start reading, I want to keep reading. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a treat or watching a show, but everything we want to achieve, accomplish, or attract is just on the other side of teeny tiny steps toward it.
All big goals are accomplished with teeny tiny steps.
All big goals are accomplished with teeny tiny steps. That’s why I love creating a boss list with small quantifiable goals. My big goal is to be healthy and in shape. Well, what does healthy mean? How will I know if I’m in shape? I used to obsess over my weight and now I know better. I can starve and run and weigh less, but that doesn’t make me feel good. Weight is just one measurement but it’s not the most important thing. So I have a goal to do an unassisted pull-up. That will mean I’m in good shape because I haven’t been able to do a pull-up since I was a kid.
You can only read a book if you read one word and then another.
You can only drive somewhere if the tires rotate that direction one time and then again and again. Nothing happens without the very first rotation of the tire all the way around. Then, it sets the tires in momentum to keep going.
Nothing happens overnight.
We started watching the Last Dance again, the documentary about Michael Jordan and the bulls in the ’90s. When all of this happened I was in high school and I can’t think of anything I cared about less than NBA basketball. I still don’t care about basketball, per se, but I do love studying greatness. Michael Jordan is indisputably the best player in the world. And it took him seven years to win a championship. Seven years. I didn’t know it took that long. I had no idea that he kept losing to Detroit and because he kept getting the crap beat out of him, he hired a trainer and started lifting weights. I thought all athletes lifted weights and worked out.
The day after they lost in 1990, they didn’t take time off like they usually did. They all went to the gym. Nothing happens overnight. Even for the best basketball player in the world! He’s only the best because he did the most. He was the first one on the court, and the last one to leave. He had to get his teammates to improve, he had to work on his leadership skills, he had to pump iron to get stronger. Day after day after day after day year after year after year. Nothing happened until he did that for seven years.
In my own life, there’s so much evidence of this. My bankruptcy didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t go bankrupt because of the economy. That’s the story I used to tell. I lost most of my clients, lost 90% of my income, and bam. Lost everything. That’s not the whole story.
My bankruptcy started years before the recession with a thousand teeny tiny terrible decisions. After maternity leave when my son was born, I had been planning on working from home for 6 weeks so I could breastfeed a little longer. On my first day back to work, I went into the office to get updates on all my clients, get all my files and headed back home. When I got home, the owner of the company I worked for called me. He said “when are you coming into the office? and I said “I just left! Do you need me?” and said, “how would you like to double your income?” I was so confused.
So, I got back in the car, drove back into the office, and discovered that my immediate boss Meg had announced her retirement. She was waiting until I returned from maternity leave to make the announcement, hoping that I would get the promotion to be the director of the agency, which I did. The other directors were in the room and he asked one of them, “How much did you make last month?” (all the directors made the same commission) One of them answered, “$16,000”.
I had never seen that much money in my life. I thought I was rich. And I started acting like it. My pay kept increasing, so I took all my money out of my 401K to buy a big house with a big interest rate, of course! Who wouldn’t make that kind of brilliant decision? I financed new cars, new gym equipment; I bought everything. I charged everything, got more cards, got more crap, made one teeny tiny decision at a time in the wrong direction. THEN, the market crashed and THEN I lost all my clients and THEN I lost most of my income and then I couldn’t pay my bills, and THEN I filed for bankruptcy and lost my house.
All of that was caused by me. Not the economy. I had no savings. I took a thousand teeny tiny steps in the direction of bankruptcy for years.
The good news is, all of the best things in life are accomplished one teeny tiny step at a time in that direction. So think about that. What direction do you want to go? And what is one teeny tiny step you could take in that direction?
Wishing you lots of love,
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