A few months ago, I did a Minimalism Challenge with a group of friends. It was a great way to stay on top of doing a little each day and making forward progress with small blocks of time. It also highlighted a few of my own weaknesses when it comes to many goal-oriented projects and tasks.
The big (oh-so-obvious) discovery: Lack of thorough planning ahead derails momentum.
How it Went Down
One afternoon, I was in a mad rush to get my house picked up and food made before some friends arrived for dinner. I’d had a great day: I got some solid work time in, had a fantastic inside picnic with my preschooler and did some fun outside play with both boys, and had adequate time left for cooking and a quick clean.
If that was the end of the story, I could bill myself as the poster-child for Rockstar Work-at-Home Mom. And who doesn’t want that?
What I hadn’t done was my Minimalism Challenge for the day.
“No big deal,” I thought. I’ve already got a picture of a few items I pre-purged, and I quickly found a few more in the kitchen as I was cooking. Side note: How is there always more in the kitchen? I grabbed my phone to snap a picture and was greeted with, “Cannot take photo. Out of storage.”
I had been meaning to go through and delete a ton of photos from the phone, but hadn’t had a chance to verify that they’ve all made it to the computer. I didn’t have time to do it right then (See: “mad rush to cook and clean”). By the time everyone left and the kids were in bed, I had forgotten all about clearing space on my phone to take a picture.
Did I mention that my interim solution was to hide the items in our pantry so people wouldn’t see them sitting out and ask me why I had random items on the counter? Yeah, I’m crafty like that. And that’s the only definition of the word “crafty” that will ever apply to me.
Goal for the day missed. And double burden for tomorrow.
How I’m Learning (and You Can Too)
Have you found yourself in a similar situation? What is holding you back from reaching your goals is often a small piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, this small piece of the puzzle is a momentum killer when not planned and accounted for.
BJ Fogg, the creator of Tiny Habits, advocates breaking things down into bite-sized goals, particularly focused on the one first step. For example, if your ultimate goal is to floss your teeth, start by making a goal to set the floss out on the counter every day.
Similarly, I would advocate that there are often “hidden” steps in our projects – those steps that we don’t consciously think about, but are prerequisites to our identified next action.
Think about a goal or project you’re currently working on.
What is the next action that needs to be taken to achieve that goal? Do you need to do anything else to make that next action possible? If so, that’s a hidden step along the way.
In my case, the next action I had mentally identified was simply, “Take a photo.”
In reality, the hidden next action was “Make sure the camera/phone is capable of taking a picture.”
Subtle, but I hadn’t accounted for the hidden next action and it killed my momentum.
What is killing your momentum today? Can you identify any hidden next actions? What one small action can you take today to reduce or eliminate the hidden next action barrier?