The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming, tasks into small, manageable, tasks and then starting on the first one. – Mark Twain
I was working through a pretty rough “Mike Short special” WOD this morning. Part of the workout called for 30 pull-ups in a row.
Unfortunately, I’m still learning how to do kipping pull-ups so I’m left doing strict pull-ups. And while I’m getting stronger 30 strict pull-ups in a row is still a lot for me!
So, I chipped away at them. I started with 5. Rested a few seconds and did 5 more. This process continued until I got to 30.
But, here’s the most important thing I’d like to share… when I finished my first 5 pull-ups I didn’t despair at the thought of having to do 25 more. Instead, my focus was on the next set of 5. That’s all I thought about.
The reason I mention this is because it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you have a lot to do. And I don’t just mean a lot of pull-ups or burpees in a workout!
Life can very easily psyche us out when we’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start since we have so much to do! And when this happens we’re often left paralyzed and then, before you know it, the day is gone and we’ve accomplished nothing. Not fun.
So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and not sure what to do (or not sure you can even do it) I’d encourage you to try this 5-step process.
- What are your 3 MITs? Identify your 3 most important tasks for the day. In other words, if you only accomplish 3 things all day… what should they be? Write them down on a piece of paper.
- Identify the next step. What’s the next actionable step you plan to take on the first task? This doesn’t have to be a massive step either… just identify the first thing you need to do in order to attack that first task. And when will you take it?
- Stay focused. Do your very best to lock in on the first “most important task” until it’s finished. Don’t multi-task! Of course, life happens… and things aren’t always smooth (especially for those of us with young kids) but do your very best to focus on the task at hand. And, for goodness sake, avoid Facebook and other time sucks!
- Check it off! Once you complete a task mark it as complete. This is really important as the feel good brain chemical, dopamine, will be released when you cross the item off the list!
- Identify the next step. Now that you’ve completed a task what’s next? Repeat this pattern until all of your most important tasks are complete!
And, obviously, this same principle applies to working out. Once you have the plan (i.e. workout) and start the workout don’t think about all you have left to do. Instead, focus all of your attention on the next rep.
I even do this when I’m running. I don’t think about how far I still have to go. Instead, I just focus on the next step… and then the step after that, etc. This has really helped me.
Finally, what I’ve described could be referred to as “short-term” thinking, which, I suppose, it is. To be sure, I also believe in the importance of having longer terms goals.
But, here’s the thing, once you have these longer term goals identified we still need a plan for how to get there which brings us right back to what we need to accomplish this month, week, and day.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!