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One Action At a Time

I often speak about doing one thing a day to get towards your goal. This helps to keep a project moving, on the radar and feeding your inspiration. This is a useful practise as it makes a seemingly huge goal become more realistic and wears away at it, like water on a stone.


I was talking with a client recently who was doing just this - baby steps every day, during which the project was become more formed in her mind, she was making contacts, doing research, etc. However, although she was seeing progress, she wasn’t feeling quite as excited about it as she thought she would.


As we talked through how she was approaching it, we discovered that as she doing each task, her mind was thinking about too many other things. It could be on the next thing she was going to be doing (“once I get this out of the way, I’ll get on with….”). Or she was keeping an eye on her emails and answering “the quick ones”. Or researching on the net about one thing whilst having a phone conversation about something completely different.


I used to be very proud of the fact that I was a multi-tasker. It started at school, when to my Mother’s annoyance,I could do my homework and also tell her the plot intricacies of the film I was watching at the same time. (Her annoyance was compounded by the fact I got very good marks on the homework.) I thought this was a marvellous skill to have, and indeed sometimes it is really useful. However, I think the danger comes when doing two things at once becomes the default operational behaviour. This has been compounded in the technological age, when we are being continually pinged by apps.


The danger of multi-tasking is that we aren’t concentrating properly. We can miss important bits of information; can’t remember if we told someone a meeting had been postponed; and Heaven knows how many times I have seen people almost kill themselves because they are listening to their music, checking their emails, and crossing the road in front of traffic! (I once had to physically restrain someone who was about to step off a railway platform: come on, people, you are important - take care of yourselves!)


Aside from nearly killing ourselves, we are also in danger of missing out on the experience we are having in that moment. I’ve had conversations with clients which have included comments about:


not really being engaged with television drama anymore: okay, this could be for a variety of reasons, some down to the programme makers, but was actually because the person couldn’t watch a programme now without tweeting about it at the same time. She decided to treat television drama more like theatre, where she would never consider doing anything other that watching the play.


trying unsuccessfully to lose weight: this was down to all the snacks which were eaten almost unconsciously whilst doing other things (or hurriedly eaten before she could feel too guilty). She promised herself that if she was going to have a snack, she would stop doing everything else, put the cake or chocolate on a plate, or the crisps in a bowl, and really relish every mouthful. She lost weight because she wanted to keep her word with herself and as the kerfuffle of making a mini-ceremony out of eating snacks was so much trouble, she either did it less, or swapped the crisps for berries. She does still have the occasional bit of cake and boy, does she enjoy it! (She also stopped reading a book or checking her phone when she was eating main meals.)


Going back to my original client, she reconnected with her goal as she learnt to focus on just that thing she was doing at that moment. She acknowledged and celebrated the progress she was making after each step and before she moved on to the next thing. She rediscovered her excitement in the project, refuelled her enthusiasm and made huge leaps in getting to her goal.


So, if you feel you have lost your enthusiasm about your goal, maybe it is not what you are doing, but how you are doing it. Be fully engaged at each step, and you may find yourself flying again!

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