Many people remember the big moments in life, the ones that are photographed and celebrated in framed photos on the household walls. Maybe you remember the day your kids were born very distinctly, or a day you had to propose or were proposed to, maybe the day you bought a house. What most people don’t realize or even think about are the hundreds and maybe thousands of small moments that led up to those big moments. It is those nameless, faceless small moments that put you in a place to have those memorable events, so how do we celebrate those if we cannot even recognize them? Why do we need to even worry about them?
These moments are crucial to see how we got to where we are. If you are in a position in life you love, wouldn’t you want to be able to see the path that allowed you there? If you are struggling with things, wouldn’t you like a road map out? Well you don’t know where you are going unless you know where you are currently, and you don’t know where you are currently without context of the past. Something no one really sits down to explain to you is after high school, your life is worked backwards to get where you want to go. As you work your way through grade school, it is just day after day of learning, testings, and then moving onto the next grade. You do not really have to think about where you are going. Once you are done with 5th grade, you move onto the 6th grade, no real other options. Then the day arrives where you walk across the stage with a cap and gown, a grand speech is made, family comes from all over to watch you graduate, and then you are just set loose with real life! Holy crap! At no other point in life does your path get so narrow you have no other choices but to just go with the flow forward. After that walk across the stage in the 12th grade, every other decision is an open road with about a thousand different off shoots to choose from. Some exit ramps may be one way, so once you are down that ramp it may be impossible to get back on that road you just left. Other exit ramps may be small detours through a rough neighborhood, while others may lead to rolling picturesque green acres. Just as you wouldn’t get in the car and start heading out without having a destination, that is how you burn a bunch of fuel and get yourself lost, yet many people treat their adult lives just like this! We can be proactive in our lives, instead of reactive, and as someone who has lived both, I can tell you proactive is MUCH better.
So back to these small moments and their significance. Think of meeting a significant other. What if you met at birthday party? Many people might think, “We never would have met if I didn’t go to that birthday party.” This statement is very true, but what led you to go to the birthday party? Did you get a job that allowed you to become friends with this co-worker? Did you make many small decisions beforehand to be friendly, caring and outgoing? Did you try to cultivate new friendships in a new city you just moved to? You can see how this gets complicated quickly. In essence, you have made thousands of small little decisions that got you to that party, but you didn’t really consciously do the majority of those decisions with that in mind. So how do we head towards a goal if lots of these small decisions may not have that final goal in mind? That is where we have some overall big goal in mind. For example, many people want to be happier, or have more time to do something they love. If you wanted to work on either one of those goals, you could question if whatever action you are about to take gets you closer to that goal. If you have a goal to be happier, does spending time with that friend that just enjoys causing drama really get you closer to that goal? My guess is no! These small decisions are how we end up living our lives, and we don’t even really know it. These moments are how we go from hour to hour, day to day in our lives, and they set the stage for the large moments that are memorialized on our walls.
Now, getting back to our 104 Project, how can we tie a project into these larger goals? Maybe you have a goal to run a 5k, but right now can’t really walk more than a mile at a time. You could decide that your 104 Project will be to do 104 walks/runs before a live 5k in your area. That way, each day, you have a small goal of getting your steps or miles in several times a week instead of just facing this giant mountain of running a 5k. The magical part of doing these types of smaller goal projects is that eventually this becomes habit. Everyday you are focusing on your goal, and each day you are stepping closer, in this case literally. You could also do something like focusing on building an emergency fund, vacation fund, or getting out of debt. Each day would be a discussion of does this get you closer to your goal? But celebrating these daily small decisions leads to the habit of getting towards your goal, that is a priceless skill to learn. So start small for yourself. It may not require a whole big project, maybe just a step in the right direction is what you need to get going. Do you want to make one new friend? Then maybe joining local community clubs to find people who have similar interests, or volunteering for an organization or your church once a week gets you closer to people. Here are some tips for picking your goal and being able to actually fulfill your goal.
- Pick a goal that is both attainable in a reasonable amount of time and one you have some control over and could work towards.
- Write down the goal, write down a deadline (if applicable), and put it somewhere you are likely to see it frequently. (Think weight loss reminder taped to the fridge door!).
- Come up with some steps to get you to that goal that are things you could do daily, or at least several times a week. Making daily goals may be too challenging in the beginning and you might get discouraged if you miss a daily goal too often. Do not fret! Just get back on the horse and keep riding!
- Get information and prepare for those steps! Do you want to walk before going to work in the morning? Set out everything you want to wear the night before from the shoes, socks, and outfit, to headphones you may want to wear. If you want to volunteer research some local nonprofits that support causes you believe in and make notes with contact information.
- Find a way to track your progress! Maybe you can make notes in a daily calendar on your phone, maybe you want to keep notes in a daily journal or have an online personal blog to record the changes. A fun thing to do is join online groups in social media and find others to discuss your goals and achievements with! You could also find people to help keep you accountable.
- Realize you are going to struggle and you may flounder and fail! This is totally normal! If it were easy, everyone would do it, and you probably would have done it years ago. But now you are living a purposeful life, there will be some differences in how you live life now. There may be days when you are just mentally tired of trying to keep on track, and maybe make it less of a focus for that one day, but try to avoid back sliding into bad habits. The struggle is real, and it is part of the journey. That means you are changing and growing as a person!
- Celebrate when you have reached your goal! Whatever that celebration may be, do it and follow through with it! Even if you just sit back and pat yourself on the back because you made it, do it! Reflect on the changes you have made in the course of getting to this goal, do you think these are positive changes? Do you want to keep going?
Working on a 104 Project gives you a road map. You are trying to live life proactively, working actively towards a goal you want to attain. Your goal may change on the way, and that is totally acceptable. Maybe you wanted to lose 40 pounds by the end of the year, but you are having some health complications and maybe 20 pounds is more reasonable. You can still adjust your actions to meet that goal. Just obtaining that goal, no matter how small, gives you the self-confidence to work towards larger and larger goals. Now go out there and celebrate the small moments, they are crucial in getting you to the big ones!