Success is the sum of small efforts — repeated day in and day out.
1885 – 1950
As the old year winds down, people seem naturally drawn to two activities. The first is looking back on the old year with a bit of remorse for all the things they’d planned (and failed) to do. The second is looking forward to the fresh New Year and promising, “This year, I’ll ___________.”
My guess is you’ve probably done these things already. But if history is any guide, we won’t be far into the New Year before your plans start to go astray. Gradually you’ll begin to lose focus and fall behind, and then you’ll completely abandon your goals.
Can I suggest a different approach? Instead of making lots of major, life-changing goals, try to take things one day at a time. Instead of saying, “This year I’ll _____________”, adopt the mantra, “Today I will ____________.” Then each and every day, set and achieve a small goal that will move you in the direction you want to go.
Let me give you a quick example of how to put this into practice. Say you want to lose some weight. Instead of resolving to go on a crash diet, commit to learning more about nutrition and health by reading 10 minutes each day. Get a good book like The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor and read a few minutes a day. Then make one small change in your diet based on what you’ve learned. Continue that change until it’s become a habit, then make another small change. Repeat the process, and by the end of the year, you’ll be eating healthier and should have lost some weight as well.
One of the reasons New Year’s resolutions fail is that they’re generally too ambitious; most people try to change too many things too quickly, overwhelming themselves in the process. It’s easy to run out of willpower when you try to make too many big changes in your life.
My suggestion is that you set aside ten minutes each morning to focus on one small but achievable goal you can accomplish in less than a week. Every morning, decide on a specific thing you can do that day to move you toward your goal.
The key to living a successful life is living well each day. Make time daily to focus on the important rather than the urgent. Spend those few minutes investing in your future.
Follow this plan and at the end of 2021, you’ll look back with a real sense of pride in what you’ve accomplished.
We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.
Marian Wright Edelma
Copyright © 2021 John Chancellor