Plan big, think small

Wearing a seatbelt can save your life in the event of a crash but the act of putting one on is so simple, you don’t think about it when you get into the driver’s seat. Any goal worth fighting for must be one that scares you. Any plan worth following must be one where the next step is so simple you don’t have to think too hard about it. Dentists promote better oral health among the populace not by telling us of the dangers of thousands of unseen microbes but by encouraging people to brush their teeth every day. You don’t have to think too hard about brushing your teeth every morning. You probably do it on autopilot most days. Brushing your teeth is a simple task yet the rewards are enormous and add up over a lifetime.

A footpath up a mountain
Climbing a mountain is best done one step at a time

A lot of people have grand goals they never fulfil over their lifetime because they focus on the big picture instead of the small steps. For example, many people claim they want to lose weight. Yet few people think about how to incorporate regular exercise into their daily lives. If you want a healthier body, chances are you are not going to be able to go from struggling to climb the stairs without losing your breath to a gym freak overnight. To think that way is to set yourself up for failure. How about starting with 15 minutes of brisk walking each day. It may not sound like much but at the end of the week, that’s 105 minutes more exercise than you got last week. Once you build the habit of physical activity everyday, you can slowly increase the amount of time and intensity of those activities.

A pair of shoes on a road
One foot forward, then another. Repeat.

The key to building sustainable habits is making it so simple you don’t have to think about it to get started. The less time you spend thinking about it, the less likely you are to procrastinate. Can you create simple steps that you can build upon to achieve your goal? Remember the moral fable of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and consistent effort sustained will get you to the finish line. A mad, unsustainable dash might not.

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