Like many of us, my son John is a busy man.He’s in graduate school and has big dreams about where he wants to go and what he wants to do.Achieving those goals means a lot of sacrifice and discipline now—hard courses, much research, publishing and presenting papers.There’s a lot riding on how he does now and that means he’s under considerable pressure.
I asked him recently if he ever felt overwhelmed or anxious.His answer taught me a valuable lesson--one I’ve heard before but it was somehow more memorable coming from him.He said that you can’t think about the whole road at once.If you think about everything you have to get done, all the obstacles you have to overcome, it’s easy to get discouraged.But if you focus on the step in front of you right now, complete that step and then move on to the next a big dream becomes much more doable.
Equally important, each day you have to concentrate on the one or two most important things you need to get done that day.Not the easy ones or the urgent ones (think e-mail!) but the important ones.What tasks move the ball down the field toward your ultimate goal?
It’s simple advice, really.But for those of us who have been afraid to dream big or who go through each day stressed out and exhausted, that simple advice is profound.I often encourage my clients to challenge themselves to set a powerful and challenging goal for themselves and then to identify only the first step toward that goal.Complete that first step and then decide the next one.Your progress is organic and takes advantage of the opportunities that show themselves unexpectedly.You stay on track and can end each day with a sense of accomplishment.
So thank you, John, for that great insight.Think big, take it one day at a time and each day do the most important thing.