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I know this about myself and suspect many can relate - sometimes, I have an all-or-nothing mindset. If I can't complete something from start to finish in one shot, I procrastinate starting at all.
The oddest thing is, while I think this way for my own actions, I don't expect it from anyone else. I'm realistic enough to know there will always be delays when we work on projects. Things rarely, if ever, go from start to finish uninterrupted. We wait for other people's responses, plan around supply deliveries, and navigate shifting priorities.
So why this all-or-nothing pressure? Part of me believes we want to feel accomplished, and if the whole thing doesn't get done, we don't achieve that sense of satisfaction. Many of us love to check that box when we've completed something. Yet we fail to recognize the completion of incremental steps as celebration-worthy. Let's collectively reframe our definition of accomplishment and accept that any progress toward a goal deserves celebration.
Marie Kondo has helped many people by sharing her technique for decluttering and organizing. After her first series premiered on Netflix, I heard from some friends and clients who dove in headfirst. They eagerly pulled every item of clothing they owned (from multiple closets) and dumped them on the bed. Their enthusiasm waned, however, when decision fatigue set in, and they realized they would not complete their journey to joy before bedtime. As the remaining mountain prevented them from sleeping in their usual spot, they or the clothes had to relocate for the night, and they felt defeated. While it was difficult for them to see, even though they didn't finish the whole project - progress was being made — some decluttering beat no decluttering.
One summer in my HR career, I was hopeful for an HR Intern to help with some long overdue projects. Unfortunately, even a temporary addition to the headcount was not in the budget that year. But the projects still had to get done, and I was the only one who was going to do them. I committed to spending just 15-minutes per day on these projects. Some days I found I could spend a little more time; other days, I at least met my commitment. It took several months, but all of the projects got done. 15-minutes a day beat zero minutes.
This statement from Dr. Doyle is spot-on, "Always look for the thing you CAN do with the energy and focus you DO have." Don't burden yourself with what you should do. Determine the smallest increment of progress you can make, and do it. Incremental effort nets more results than no effort. Incremental progress in and of itself is an accomplishment.
I'm getting better at embracing this idea. Recently, while away from home for extended periods, I did what I could in my current circumstance rather than abandoning my daily routines altogether. And I felt good about it!
The next time you can't do something entirely, do the one thing you can do at that moment to move you closer to the goal. And don't forget to celebrate.
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