Starting a new habit? Zoom out!
Does this sound familiar? You set a goal to learn something new or start a new habit and focus only on seeing results in one specific area but when you don’t see the progress in that area you become disheartened and stop working towards that goal altogether.
For example, say you set a goal to write more, and you set out to publish ten articles in the next month. You’re excited about this new goal, so you get up early every day to write for at least an hour. You also begin reading more to help you come up with more ideas. You focus on improving your writing process. Along the way, you learn a lot about yourself and the ideas that spark excitement in you. A month goes by, but you have only published one article. Realizing you have not reached your goal of publishing ten articles in a month, you get disheartened and feel that maybe you’re not good at writing. So you give up and try your luck at something else.
Focusing only on how many articles you published excluded all the other progress you made around your writing. After all, you wrote more, read more, your writing process improved, and you learned more about yourself than ever before, but most importantly, you were having fun. This change in perspective will motivate you to keep pushing forward despite not publishing ten articles.
How can we keep ourselves from thinking too narrowly when we start? Instead of focusing on a specific outcome, we can widen our focus to include our whole experience.
An example from my experience
I recently increased my weekly running mileage, and the area I started to focus on was my weight. I was running a lot, but my weight seemed to be ticking upwards. This thought made me a bit frustrated at the lack of progress I was making. After discussing this situation with a friend I run with, he helped me look at things differently. He helped me see all the other changes that were happening as a result of my increased running.
What I focused on:
By widening my focus, I realized:
I was feeling healthier
My diet improved
I was sleeping better
I was able to focus much better during the day
My overall physique was improving
My mental health and well-being improved
I had more energy throughout the day
Watching the sunrise each morning helped me start my days off on a high note.
Now that I think about it, I could list many more areas that have improved because of my running. I’m glad my friend helped me change my focus from my weight to my whole experience.
Focusing too narrowly on a single metric has the potential to derail us from our goals, especially when we are learning something new. Instead, try widening your focus to look at the whole picture. Examine the entire experience of your journey and the areas you are improving in that you may have overlooked. Use this new understanding to propel you forward to achieve your goals.
Enjoy the change.
Enjoy the experience.
Enjoy the journey.