Stop doing so much

Ambition is good because it means that we want to actively improve ourselves and achieve great things.

There’s nothing wrong with this. However, there is a problem with trying to do too much at once.

Is it possible to be too motivated? 

Some self improvement efforts start from struggles with depression and apathy. Others may start from moments of bliss and happiness.

In the context of self improvement, extreme happiness and motivation leads to far too much enthusiasm for a better future. This actually results in a loss of focus and nothing actually being completed.

This issue tends to get ignored more than complete apathy to improvement because it’s mistakenly viewed as a desirable trait. The person who wants to do everything is better than the person who wants to do nothing. 

Start small 

A symptom of this extreme motivation is often having a laundry list of goals that must be completed because they will make you a better person. For me, it was trying to develop in all sorts of areas like art, fitness, writing and education. Not only did I not complete everything I wanted to but I ended the summer with half finished projects. Many that I never ended up touching. If i remember correctly, I only finished one online course.

I didn’t complete anything worthwhile because I didn’t focus my efforts on a single project.

My biggest strides in self development have come from adopting habits so small I couldn’t say no to them. I would focus my efforts on them for a while. When they became routine, I moved onto something else. This stopped me from becoming overloaded with lifestyle changes and never making any substantial progress.

For example, choosing to make my bed everyday was a small enough for me to begin and continue without any strain. This would later develop to keeping my desk and room more organised without thinking about it.

Meditating everyday for five minutes a day was not difficult to start. It later developed to meditating 10 – 15 minutes daily.

Drinking an extra cup of water everyday was a small addition and quickly led me only drinking water throughout the day.

Small steps are easier than big leaps

You don’t need to read 10 books in a week or paint Starry Night in a day in order to be make valuable progress with reading or art.

Focus on one area of your life and break it down into small sections. You’ll put more energy into the project or habit which will make you more likely to succeed. If it’s something you have in mind for the long term, focus on the beginning until it becomes a ‘non-focus’. That being, you no longer need to put as much energy into remaining consistent (which is a habit!) Then you can focus on the tougher parts of the project or goal. Or a completely different one.

If you sprint at the beginning of a marathon while juggling bricks, you’ll be the exhausted runner with a sore foot after ten minutes.

Start small and you’ll end big.

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