According to recent 2014 statistics, here are the top 10 New Year’s resolutions: lose weight; get organized; save more money; enjoy life more; stay fit; learn something new; quit smoking; help others; fall in love; and spend more time with family.
However, out of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolution, 24 percent fail and only 8 percent actually succeed.
Many people also have a bucket list of what they’d like to achieve before they leave this earth. Running a marathon happens to be one of the most popular. In 1976 there were approximately 25,000 marathon finishers, a small number compared to the record high of 541,000 determined runners that completed marathons in 2013. This is despite the Boston marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. Rather than deterring Americans, the tragedy perhaps inspired more runners to put on their running shoes.
If you’re not a runner, that’s okay, too. A Huffington post article listed 26 reasons why not to run a marathon. Many of the reasons made perfect sense, such as if one isn’t willing to train. Some people simply hate to run, while others dislike public exercise events. Others fear they haven’t trained enough, and some cite the expense, or the potential and even fatal health risks. While running 26 miles has become almost standard fare for many weekend athletes, with many completing several marathons along the way, some of us prefer a relaxed jog of mile or maybe two.
Either way, no one can finish without taking the necessary training steps. Training for anything challenging requires building your resistance and stamina, taking on one mile at a time. So why do so many people fail to fulfill their resolutions for the year? Perhaps they’re too focused on the 26 miles instead of breaking down the goal into measurable tasks.
The first very basic step might be getting decent running shoes and special running clothes. The second step might be to actually to run a quarter of a mile without stopping. This might sound trivial and laughable for those that don’t struggle with motivation or exercise.
But not for someone who is obese or perhaps suffering from depression or any other type of debilitating illness that might zap motivation and confidence. Believe it or not, it’s a real struggle for some to simply leave the house and walk for 5 minutes let alone run several miles. If you’ve never been one to have any sort of addiction, you’re especially strong-willed and count yourself fortunate.
As an ex-smoker I can say quitting was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. While some people can quit cold turkey, for me taking baby steps worked best. I used to play this game that I would wait to see how long I could go without lighting one. I would reduce the amount of cigarettes I smoked daily. Then, I jumped on the e-cigarette bandwagon and found that electronic cigarettes helped wean myself off smoking, altogether.
There was a point where I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to turn away from the nasty habit. But, our minds are much more powerful than we realize. We are capable of so much more. Interview any competitive athlete or long distant runner and they’ll likely share a similar story of hitting a wall. They felt like they couldn’t possibly go on but overcame the odds.
In reality, we’re much more like Neo in The Matrix. Neo didn’t realize he had powers or that he could control them until he believed that he had it within him to achieve anything, no matter how impossible. And while we’re not super heroes in a Hollywood blockbuster, we are in charge of our own universe and our own minds. When focused properly, we can overcome that fearful voice inside us that whispers, “I can’t.” But it isn’t the large leaps and the marathon type of achievements that truly mean we’ve arrived and conquered.
Ask the 8 percent of Americans who have done what most haven’t, actually completed their New Year’s resolution. Ask anyone who has succeeded in a given task that you are still struggling toward. You’ll find that while some may make successes appear as easy as stopping a bullet with their mind, behind their super-hero façade lies an ordinary human with the ability to take not just steps or even baby steps. What is smaller than a baby step, you ask? A micro-step.
A micro-step might sound like not doing very much at all. But if you think about it, life can often function like a mathematical equation. If you’re an engineer and you’re designing something that requires precision and you’re off by .000001 you could fail.
Physicians require precision as well. The margin of error for a brain or heart surgeons is miniscule. An “oops” during surgery can potentially cost someone their life, or at least millions of dollars to the doctor or hospital in terms of a lawsuit. If .000001 can potentially result in catastrophic negative effects, then even the smallest number matters. Everything in life has a cause and effect. Everything functions as energy. From a thought, to a step, to a feeling, and then an action.
Rather than thinking of taking the “big leap” the “plunge” and going to the extreme to conquer a goal, consider first the micro-step that is just as vital in accomplishing any task. If you want to quit smoking, maybe cold turkey works for some. But, consider cutting back one cigarette a day and taking one small step at a time. If you want to start a business, instead of jumping into the process of renting a space and expecting to run with it consider crawling. A micro step in the right direction is to contemplate the business plan, and the next micro-step might be to start planning how to research the market. Another micro step might be to write a list of the mistakes you don’t want to make.
The Bottom Line:
Some people have the money to jump in and start a business whenever and wherever they want, and they have the luxury of jumping ahead, skipping a whole bunch of steps. The same can be true of running a marathon. But most of us need to take micro-steps to reach our goals. We need to crawl before we can walk and walk before we can run. It’s a cliché but so true. Don’t think that taking tiny, tiny steps equals nothing. Don’t dismiss the smallest of actions. When you add together several micro-steps, you’ll be surprised at how all the very little moves you make in life can lead you closer to accomplishing your goals.