I have no 'big' goals this year.
Daily bread > everything else.
“It’s you against you this time”
“Your whole life could change with just 3 months of consistency”
“Show up every day, your future you will thank you for it”
Have you seen any quotes like these recently? Who doesn’t love a good motivational quote. They tell us that we are the ones in control. They tell us that we are the only thing standing in between us and the life of our dreams. They tell us that the quickest way to get everything we dream of is to put more effort and energy into manifesting exactly what we desire.
But that’s the catch. It doesn’t always work that way. More effort ≠ quicker results. I’ve learned that willpower and the best of intentions can only get me so far.
Let me take a step back and explain what I mean.
Willpower and good intentions don’t always cut it
At the end of last year, after a busy and successful year, I felt an overwhelming sense of despondency. Even though so much I had been working towards over the last 5 years had happened, there was still one goal that I struggled to meet. One thing I still couldn’t cross off my checklist.
It overshadowed me like a large, looming grey cloud. I was frustrated because after another year of willing, hoping and praying things would be different, reaching this goal continued to be more difficult and more complicated than I anticipated. My willpower had calcified into a toxic type of frustration. Why couldn’t I get the results that I wanted with the ease or speed I desired? Why wasn’t the self-focused motivational advice working?
‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit’
Our culture tells us that if you just ‘try hard’ enough, you’ll get what you deserve in good time. But sometimes that just simply isn’t the case. Heaping intense pressure on myself and pursuing hyper-productivity just wasn’t working. It doesn’t work because it’s unrealistic and unsustainable. No wonder so many of us are a bit too familiar with burnout, we’re pushing some things prematurely.
Achieving some goals requires:
A sequence of events to precede them and;
Us to go through a period of spiritual/character development
And it’s impossible to manufacture or force these things. With that in mind, I had no choice but to stop pushing myself and take on a new outlook.
The beauty of building brick by brick
My goals this year aren’t huge. I’m not putting a 12, 6 or 3-month timeline on The Big Things. What matters more for me as we approach the third month of 2022, is to build sustainable, steady practices in all areas.
As an output of these practices, I know that some ‘big goals’ will be met, but they’re not my primary focus. Instead, I’m prioritising the concept of ‘daily bread’ over everything
We’re encouraged to ask for ‘daily bread’ — not weekly, monthly, annual ‘bread’ [provision, sustenance, support] from God
We’re encouraged to focus on today, rather than getting anxious about the future because ‘tomorrow has enough trouble of its own’
We’re encouraged to connect with Jesus by ‘taking up our cross [the weight of a deeply connected spiritual life] daily’. Not weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Daily.
When a concept is repeated throughout the Bible, it’s something to pay special attention to.
These verses provide a glimpse into the incremental nature of life. They provide a glimpse into how the most successful strategy for life might be to prioritise the power of today. Here, there are no grand gestures, there’s no supersonic races to the finish line, no overnight viral growth. Just well-considered, seemingly small actions that compound over time.
Stop trying to squeeze the most from the least… that’s exhausting
It’s important to highlight this doesn’t mean we move through life aimlessly. Vision and big picture thinking are still important — and are God-given. The key is to free ourselves from the suffocating pressure to squeeze out maximum results in the minimum timeframe.
When we squeeze, we get fast food, fast fashion, fast ‘results’. Speed becomes the selling point and before you know it, you’ve compromised on quality, integrity and legacy.
Caution: Living with a ‘daily bread’ mindset may not look ‘smart’ from the outside. Are we ready for that? Am I ready for that? Will we stick to what’s sustainable even if it doesn’t look good to others? Even if you feel like you’re ‘falling behind’, the truth is that we won’t miss out on the good things prepared for us.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.
Will Smith echoes something similar in his memoir: the idea that focusing on a single brick is the only way to build a great wall. Focus on mastering today, and making almost microscopic progress. The progress that doesn’t go viral, that doesn’t lead to accolades, that may not even look or feel like progress at first.
One thing’s for sure: in time, the tiniest things grow into The Greatest.
Do you need to change your perspective as we move into March? Let me know what you think in the comments