Success is not always at the end of the road
In a desire to do something bold and to challenge my idea of success, I decided to ride a tandem bike across Canada with my husband. It was a decision to push my physical limits and stretch my limiting beliefs. I had never cycled before, I was not an athlete, and sheltering-in had packed on a few extra pounds of unwanted weight around my middle. Feeling determined to see what was possible, we set out on a 5,000-kilometer ride (3,107 miles) through 6 provinces to the eastern Atlantic coast.
We started in Alberta, one of the prairie provinces on the western side of Canada. We had the joy of cycling over 2,000 kilometers through the next two provinces, Manitoba and Saskachewen, while heading east. If you have never been to the prairies, it is kilometer upon kilometer of farmland for as far as the eye can see. Needless to say, it is flat. Incredibly flat! Although it was great for cycling, it left us with the daunting sensation of not making any progress. Each day as we got on our bike, all we could see ahead of us was road — an endless stretch of road vanishing into the distance at the very edge of the horizon.
When you are on a bike and each turn of the pedals takes physical effort, you tend to want to conserve energy, plan your pace, and know your distance; but, with hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers in front of us, all we could see was a straight road continuing on for what seemed like forever. On a bike, that road felt like it went on for eternity to the very edge of the Earth.
Knowing we had to make the trek and get to the end, I stopped looking at the endless stretch of road and began looking at what was right in front of me. I would find a treeline, a telephone pole, or a gravel driveway maybe a kilometer or two ahead and made that my goal. I didn’t focus on the thousands of kilometers ahead of me, I focused only on the few. Soon enough, I’d reach that treeline, telephone pole, or driveway, and I’d celebrate. I’d take a short break, a drink of water, or snack on an energy bar. I’d use the accomplishment to reward myself and imprint feelings of achievement and success. Then I’d keep going, setting my sights of a brightly painted barn, a stack of hay, or a cluster of flowers dancing in the breeze. I let go of looking in the far-off distance and had more fun looking at what was close, obtainable, and what I could achieve.
In this way, before I knew it, I would have cycled over 100 kilometers that day. And then 150, and even up to 200 kilometers in a single day! I found that I didn’t need to look at the end point of the journey; I just had to concentrate on what was close enough — what was reachable for that portion of the trip. Then, I’d set a new goal and accomplish that. I’d spot a new marker and reach that. I felt excited and elated each time I passed my desired objective, and I’d always celebrate, even if it was just with a high five, a shouted “woop woop,” or a big deep breath filling my body with the feeling that I had done it and done it well.
My husband and I took 56 days in total with 44 days of cycling to complete our 5,000 kilometer goal. The journey was filled with hills, obstacles, potholes, detours, and paths we never thought we’d take. We had an idea of where we were going, but all kinds of unforeseen challenges showed up. Our process was to focus on the next few kilometers ahead and do what we had to to get through to the next marker. We’d push hard, ride strong, pedal constantly, and get through each short goal we had created.
This has become a metaphor for life and for success.
You can’t always know what is ahead of you, but you can get to what you can see just a little way ahead. Focus on that — what you can see, what is possible — and go after that. Then immediately make the next goal, set the next marker, and focus on that. Celebrate each and every achievement. Reward, bonus, bless, and feel the pride inside from what it is you have achieved!
Micro-goals and micro-celebrations are a fantastic way to get you on your road to success. Too often, we focus only on the final destination: the big end goal. Often that goal is daunting and so far out that we can’t see it, and so we give up. Sometimes the distance from where we are now to where we want to get to is so far, it seems unattainable. I can assure you it is not.
Break down your goals into doable, foreseeable, manageable components. Focus on what you can do to get to the next phase or marker. Make it small if you have to, but choose something you can reach and then celebrate when you complete it. YES, CELEBRATE!
Celebration is a big part of success. It reinforces the brain with positive affirmations and floods the body with beneficial endorphins that encourage more effort, and that leads to more success. It’s the perfect personal success system, and you are in charge of it!
Find those doable tasks that you can complete and then reward yourself when you get there. Use that momentum to set a new target and go after that. By breaking things down into achievable chunks, you break down the barriers that prevent you from reaching your ultimate finish line.
You’ve got this, so go get it!
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