What one Thing have You Done?

What one thing have you done today to move closer your goals for this year?


If you don’t have an answer, then get off the computer and do something! Come back to this when you’re done.

Motivation can easily be squashed by huge tasks, long term goals or the avalanche of to-dos. It becomes so daunting we become frozen through inaction or complacent thinking there is plenty of time to get it done later. (Afterall, I have all year to complete my annual goal.) As a result, we do nothing. Stress only escalates over the mounting tasks, passing deadlines, lack of progress and demands from those impacted.

The advice about eating an elephant one bite at a time, though trite, is accurate. Sometimes that isn’t as instructive to us and still may not move us to action. My solution instead is to ask the empowering question: what one thing can I do to make progress on this today? How you ask a question dictates answers. If you were to ask, “did I do anything to progress on this goal today” you end up with a yes-no answer. This is less stimulating… in fact, downright deflating if your answer is no.

That “one thing” may be small. How small? (I knew you would ask that.) It depends on the person. It only has to be big enough to legitimately qualify in your mind that you did something. Let’s look at goals of losing weight and getting in shape. It’s late in the day. You’re home from work. You’re tired and feeling less than motivated. Here are some actions that might qualify.

  • Log what you ate today in a nutrition journal (Begin one if you don’t have one).
  • Get on the floor and do 20 push-ups and 30 sit-ups.
  • Do exercises during commericals while watching TV tonight (instead of channel surfing).
  • Eat a healthy dinner and omit dessert this evening.
  • Don’t have that beer or glass of wine before bed.
  • Evaluate your goals and re-write them with specific objectives for each.
  • Read an article (or blog post) on nutrition, exercise or motivation.
  • Ask a friend to go for a walk with you.
  • Join a club.
  • Hire a coach.

Notice that these are process actions. It only has to be big enough to inch towards your goal. Like running a marathon, it’s done one step at a time. The snowball at the top of the hill gains momentum and power as it rolls downhill; similarly these “one things” keep you rolling forward. It is complete inaction we want to avoid because inertia (things at rest will remain at rest – a physics thing that applies to human behavior too) is very difficult to overcome.

Ok, now that you have done your reading for today; Let’s try this again. Get out your goals. What one thing have you done today to move closer to your goals for this year?

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