Shortening the Stride: Practicing Small Habits Daily to Achieve Long term Goals
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Last year when I was going through physical therapy for neck and back pain improvement, my physical therapist also evaluated my running form. My biggest problem that was causing significant pain in my hips and knees was my stride length; it was too long. Whenever I tried to run a little faster I focused on reaching a little farther with my stride. Turns out that is not the best tactic. From that I have focused on shortening my stride to improve my running, but I have also noticed that it is true for my growth related goals as well.
I was rereading my journal from the last year and am happy to note that I have experienced a huge year of growth! Thank goodness :). I came across these two entries and realized how putting this into practice has made a huge impact on my growth this year.
It’s time to let go of the expectations. The expectations of something huge and amazing and earth shaking. It’s time to let go of those expectations so growth can be allowed. Reaching too high too far only seems to cause stagnancy because it is too big to tackle all at once. Focus on today and the small things I can do today to grow into the future best self. It’s important to be a small best self today rather than a large best self never.
The only way to live fully is to take action today. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or what may happen in the future because those are out of your control. Today matters. The action taken today is what will affect the future, which will eventually become the past. If you want to affect the future, you have to make the important decisions today. Tomorrow never comes, ever, so there is no need to wait and it really doesn’t buy you anything. There is no need to wait until the time is right. Tomorrow is the action taken today, and if you don’t make the decision to own today, the tomorrow you want will always be out of reach.
At the Best Year Ever Blueprint event I attended in December, we did some exercises to identify our goals for the upcoming year. Part of that exercise included breaking down what we could do in a month, a week, tomorrow, and even in the next ten minutes. This helped identify the small actions I needed to take everyday to get to the desired outcome at the end of the year.
I have struggled with accomplishing goals. One of my biggest struggles has been not knowing where to start. I know my desired end goal, but I have no idea how to make it from point A to point B a whole year away. Shortening my stride and breaking it down into daily habits make it manageable for me. I know if I employ these actions each day, they will become a habit and I will end up at my desired end goal. It's also important to continue to adjust the stride length to be optimal. I don't typically have all the information when I originally decided on that daily habit, so evaluating progress at the end of a day, week, and month helps me adjust my stride length to achieve optimal habits to meet the end goal.
Having small daily habits and ensuring I actually do them every single day brings into focus what I can control: today. Today is the only day that will alter the outcome, so why not focus on it? On the days I am having a hard time focusing and don't feel like my daily habits will happen, I again adjust that stride length and start to focus on hourly goals for that day, or even what I can do in the next ten minutes to achieve that habit.