What Will You Have to Show One Year From Today?
As I write this, we are heading into the holiday season, and then, before you know it, the new year is here. If I have heard one person say it, I have listened to a dozen say, “I can’t believe another year has passed so quickly.” Time is passing; the question you should be asking is, what do you have to show for it?
What Will You Have to Show for It?
What would you need to do to make real progress in your life one year from today? Do you want to get in better shape? Lose a few pounds? Get a new job? Get a promotion at your old job? Maybe start your own business? All of those are great goals, and they are in reach if you take the proper steps to begin the journey.
When I ask people on coaching calls if they think next year will be better or worse than this year, 100% of them say, “BETTER!” When I ask them how they will get to “better,” the answers are not convincing. In many cases, it seems like hope is the primary strategy.
One of the biggest problems I see with people who want to grow and change is setting big goals that require significant commitments. For example, one person told me they wanted to lose 15 pounds. To do this, they put a plan in place of purchasing a gym membership, going to the gym for 1.5 hours every day, eating salad at every meal, and drinking a gallon of water a day. You will surely lose weight if you can execute the plan; unfortunately, life and reality get in the way, and we cannot maintain this commitment. And, since we didn’t meet the goal, we feel bad, which makes us do more of the things that got us here in the first place. I am all for setting big goals, but we need to take steps to get there small enough to ensure we are constantly moving in that direction. The way I do this is with what’s called the Irreducible Minimum.
An irreducible minimum is a minimum you can do (in an area you are trying to improve in your life) that cannot be reduced. I wanted to write a book. This means I will need to write every day. Sounds easy, it’s not. So, I set an irreducible minimum to write 50-words every day. Most of the emails you write are more than 50 words. The average business book is 60,000+ words. This blog post is 688 words. Fifty words are nothing – unless you do it every day. And that’s the magic of an irreducible minimum. Something small, done every day, compounds over time to achieve remarkable results.
Can I Do More?
Do I ever write more than 50-words a day? Yes, but I never write less. If the light is right, the house is quiet, and the coffee is warm, I might write 500 words or 1500 words. But if I only write 50, I met my goal, feel good about it, and record it as a successful day.
Do you want to read more in the coming year? Try reading two pages a day. How often? EVERY DAY. Want to get in better shape? How about walking to the end of your driveway? How often? EVERY DAY. Now, can you get in shape walking to the end of your driveway every day? Probably not. But, since you have your shoes on, the weather is good, and you are already in the driveway, what if you walked around the block; twice. Irreducible minimums are about starting, and once you start, keeping going is a lot easier.
Small Done is Better Than Big Forgotten
The new year is almost here. A new year is fresh and ready for you to make your mark. The time is passing and passing faster than you think. How about picking one or two (definitely no more than 3) irreducible minimums that you can begin executing daily, so when you get to one year from today, you will have something to show for it. Something small done daily will take you a lot further than something big planned but not done.
About Perry Holley
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.