Sometimes it may seem like I send mixed messages – first it’s all about goals and long-term planning, but then switches to being in the moment. The two are linked, but they aren’t really opposite sides of the coin. Think of it in a military sense (or, if you prefer, a business sense): strategy vs. tactics.

Strategy describes the destination and how you are going to get there, and tactics describe the specific actions you are going to take along the way.

When you set your big hairy-ass goals, you are developing your strategy going forward. Whether it’s run a marathon in the next year, launch a business, become a chef… add to that the high level plan to achieve your goal and bang – this is your strategy. In the marathon example, your goal is the race. You pick one that is a fit for your schedule and plan to build your endurance and mileage over the next 12 months until you are ready to go.

Tactics would be the nuts and bolts. Are you following the Galloway method? What’s your training cycle? What tools do you need – a runner’s watch, better shoes, etc. Do you have a calendar to follow, with 10k, half, other intermediate races as you build up to the finale? This is the step by step plan to achieve your goal – to enact your strategy.

Read that again.

All the high level planning and goal-setting in the world does you no good, if you don’t do the little things every day. I know I experienced that over the years – I would think about all these things I wanted to do, like getting fit, learning to play guitar, starting a business – but I never followed through and did the work. You can talk about it til you’re blue in the face. Unless you get in there and DO it, nothing will change.

That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are all about, right? With a failure rate estimated at 80%, that is the definition of setting a goal without the means, plans, and/or willpower to follow through. So you tell yourself you will do better, this time will be different. Then you don’t. And again. And rinse, repeat. Always a reason, an excuse, a half-hearted “sorry”. Here’s the bad news… whether you do it to yourself, or someone does it to you:

Ouch… Hey, I thought this was about positive reinforcement and support?? Yes, it is. But we have to recognize that until we commit to real change – truly commit to it – we are fooling ourselves. And yes, in a sense, that is manipulating ourselves. The difference is whether you want the end result – or you want the end result so badly you are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it.

No one else can decide that you are ready – that would be pushing string. But here’s the cool thing – once you decide you are ready and you commit? No one can stop you. When you believe in yourself and have the right support system, you are pretty much invincible. Your job search, your new business, your marathon training – I’m not saying it will all go off perfectly. But when things go wrong? You fix them and move forward.

Focus

First strategy, then tactics. You need to have a goal, a plan. But once you are in the plan, doing the work, “in the weeds” – you have to commit to what is in front of you. When you are fully present? The only mile that matters is the one you’re running right now.

What you did on the last mile, or yesterday, or a week ago may inform your current reality – but you can’t change what happened then. You CAN change how you react today. What may come tomorrow? It can be worrying (overthinkers, unite! And then worry about what will happen if we do…) – but you can’t fix that right now, either. Give everything in your arsenal to today – the only mile that matters.

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash