How big dreams and "aim low, go slow" work together

I’m a dreamer with big ambitions. I pretty much have to be–as a freelance writer, if I wasn’t working toward something beyond the next assignment or next (often missing) check, I’d have burned out by now.

But I also believe strongly in the advice I give in my book to “aim low and go slow.”

Huh? How can those two things go together?

To me, the far-reaching ambitions–write that book, create that beautiful garden, start that kids’ clothing line–are the big picture. They’re the “what” you might be hoping to one day achieve. Aiming low and going slow are the “how.” Those small, steady goals keep you from getting overwhelmed so you can keep putting one foot in front of the other instead of getting overwhelmed, spinning your wheels, or freezing like a deer in the headlights.

Aiming low has a funny way of building confidence. If I tell myself I’m going to meet some fairly easy challenge–like, say, run for two minutes–I find myself confidently mastering that goal and then challenging myself to do a little more, a little more, a little more. But if I said I was going to run for twenty straight minutes, all I’d be thinking about from the moment I left my front door was that awful, terrifying, far-away target. Twenty minutes. Of running. I’ll never make it. Why even bother? I might as well just give up now.

(Maybe this is not the best example, as I pretty much hate running. But you get my point.)

Aiming low and going slow isn’t giving up, having no standards, or even necessarily having low standards. It’s more about realizing that you can’t conquer the world in one day. If you break any goal down into small steps and take your time, you might even realize along the way that you’d really rather head in another direction entirely.

Small, slow and steady steps are not always easy for me. I have a tendency to want to do it all, right now. But aiming low builds my confidence. And going slow helps make plenty of time for re-evaluation–something that’s not easy to do when you’re barreling through life at 100 MPH.

When I’m making my Mindful Monday Challenges I’m keeping aim low, go slow in mind. Sure, eventually I’d like to be able to run a 5K–okay, I wouldn’t want to actually run it, but I’d like to be ABLE to in theory–but today, going for a walk is a more reasonable goal. And while I might be able to fit in an hour’s hike once or twice this week, if I set a goal of 30 minutes five days a week, I know I can meet it. And when I exceed it, I’ll get that boost of confidence that helps me keep going tomorrow.

Are you keeping your daily goals and weekly to-do lists reasonable and do-able?

Sheesh! The “hiring a housekeeper” discussion is still going strong. Lisa Belkin quoted my piece on the New York Times Motherlode blog and it’s started a whole new discussion over there. Simple Mom wrote about how hiring help can be an important part of running a home-based business, too. One thing is clear–this is a subject that needed to be brought to light. I’m going to be working on an FAQ for my blog so that nobody ever again finds themselves under the mistaken impression that I–or any of us–really “do it all”.

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  1. kalanicut
  2. Jill VanTrease
  3. Amber