About six weeks ago, I had minor back surgery to sort out a problem with a slipped disc. A large part of the rehab process consisted of resting, with limited stretching and exercise.
Over the first few days, my routine was relatively unchanged, I spent the majority of the day in bed. I only got up to eat, shower or use the bathroom. I tried to spend more time out of bed, but I could not – I was frustrated by the perceived lack of progress in my recovery.
I didn’t see any progress between Monday and Tuesday, or between Tuesday and Wednesday, or between Wednesday and…ok, you get the picture. However, when I looked back from Friday to Monday, I started to realize how much progress I really had made. On Monday I was in bed for 23 hours a day, while on Friday I was only in bed for 22 hours (one hour is a big difference after back surgery), and I had cut my pain medication in half.
By the next week, I was only in bed for 20 hours with the occasional pain pill, and the week after I was in bed for about 15 hours a day. Now, I am in bed for my regular 8 hours a day, I am back at work, and I am completely off pain medication. Over the weeks there was huge progress, but hardly any from day to day.
So, when you are working towards a goal, how often do you abandon the journey because you are so focused on the your progress that you don?t see the progress over the weeks? Do you get frustrated because you don?t see any weight loss from day to day, or because you aren?t running further each day? Do you realize that over a week you have lost weight, or you are running further, faster and with less effort?
It is so easy to get caught up in the detail, and to forget the bigger picture. Each little step, no matter how small is a step forward, and without those little steps, you are not going to manage the bigger steps.
Here are a few steps to help you to focus on the bigger picture. Do this whenever you feel like giving up.
- Decide what your goal is (remember SMART)
- Commit yourself towards working towards that goal
- Plan your milestones towards reaching your goal
- Look back from time to time
- See how many little steps you have taken
- Realize that many little steps make a few big steps
Now, with the back surgery, I didn?t really have an option except to move forward, but when you do have the option of dropping out of a programme because you are frustrated at the perceived lack of progress, remember to keep the bigger picture in mind, and remember that if you persevere, you will move forward, and you will achieve those goals.