Ashley came to me to create big, new changes for her business. How exciting, having a big dream! She had a million ideas and a solid, well thought-out task lists to back up the big plan. Except there was one small problem — Ashley’s dream was dying on the vine. By thinking big she was overwhelming herself. She was paralyzed.
Ashley asked me, “How do you accomplish all the things you do? Do you have some mysterious time management system that I need to know about?”
Nope. No time management system. No crystal ball. No magic wand. Just one mantra: Think Big and Think Small.
Thinking Big is about dreaming and strategic design; it answers the question, “What do I want?”
Thinking Small is about tactical planning; it answers the question, “How do I accomplish it?”
Great things are accomplished through thinking in small steps. Anyone who has tried to stop smoking or lose weight knows you do it one day (one hour, one moment) at a time. Anyone who has attempted to do a 30-mile hike knows it’s simply a case of one foot in front of the other.
People with big business dreams often forget these well-known truths about how to tackle big things. Mary became frustrated because things weren’t moving fast enough. She was ready to give up her dream because there was too much to do and she didn’t know which task to do first. When she did start a task, she abandoned it if it took longer — or was more complicated — than she thought it should be.
We live in a world of instant gratification. It numbs us to what’s really important: to live the big, juicy, vibrant life you desire. We’re afraid that thinking small and taking small steps forward because we equate it with being small and having a small life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
No matter how much you try, you can only really do one thing at a time. You may think that multi-tasking makes you more productive, but studies show that multi-tasking actually reduces your ability to accomplish tasks. So instead of trying to do five tasks simultaneously I’m advocating this approach: put exquisite, conscious effort into one task at a time, complete it, and move on to the next.
How do you know what small step to take first? You have been gifted with four pillars of life the day you were born: your intellect, your emotions, your intuition, and other human beings. Start by asking yourself, “What one small thing can I do, right now, that will move me towards my big goal?” Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come to you immediately; have patience and allow the answer to bubble up to the surface.
If the answer still doesn’t come to you, ask other people for help. Talk to supportive people who fully understand your big dream and can help you to look at the small tasks you must do to accomplish the goal. Write down the tasks or draw them on a piece of paper and ask yourself, “Does this feel right?” Write in pencil so that you can re-arrange it until it truly feels right to you. Then do one small task at a time.
I’m encouraging you to do both: Dream Big, Think Big, and you will succeed.