Eat your veggies. Brush your teeth. Take some exercise. Ever since we were small, we’ve all been told to do this stuff on a daily basis. On an intellectual level, we know it’s in our own best interests, and that our future selves will thank us for it. It’s just not very exciting, is it?
I’m now well into my first block of training for the ultramarathon I’m running at the end of May and, if I’m honest, it’s also a bit dull. I’m heading out most nights after work to run in the dark, at a very steady pace, often in sub-zero temperatures. The better weather and lighter nights will come but, for now, I’m definitely in need a large glass of ‘you know what you need to do’ and a straw to suck it up.
With the running, it’s all about building a really solid base which will support bigger and better things in the months ahead. I know from past experience that, without it, my old bones won’t be up to the challenge of the longer runs and the speedier stuff in a few months’ time. This will inevitably result in me picking up an injury, missing a couple of weeks of training and watching my hard-earned fitness disappear.
This ‘base building’ process (and the temptation to skip it) doesn’t just apply to ridiculous endurance running events though. We’re all hard-wired to look for the quick fix to achieve our chosen objectives but, more often than not, there are no shortcuts. Whether you’re building your business, developing your career, or pursuing any other long-term goal, most progress happens because of the small steps we take every day. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.
We all notice the grand gestures, but the reality is that the most reliable way to achieve the big things is to do lots of small things – to move the needle just a little bit every day. In the short term it can be hard to see the results, but over time it all adds up. So, whilst its fine to congratulate ourselves for the big wins, perhaps we should give a lot more credit for reliably delivering on the small stuff? Tomorrow’s success is built today. So, make time to update your terms and conditions. Give the employee handbook that long-overdue refresh. Sort out that data protection policy that you’ve been neglecting. And don’t forget to eat your veggies, brush your teeth and take some exercise each day.