Just one word
COLUMN BY CHRISTINA KUNKLE
Can wield unbelieveable power
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
— Chinese Proverb
hink back to the last time you set a huge personal or professional goal. What happened next? If you’re like many of us can-do high achievers, you likely jumped the gun in a passionate dash toward the end result without creating a plan to keep you on track. Maybe you pushed to sustain a sprinter’s pace without taking time to rest or refuel, and crashed before crossing the finish line. Sound familiar? I’ve been there, too. Thankfully, after years of setting lofty goals — only to fail at reaching them — I discovered a simple technique that helped me make and sustain positive change. It’s the “Just one thing” concept, based on the Japanese principle of kaizen or “good change.” According to kaizen, big changes come in continuous small, steady increments over time. Being a perfectionist by nature only led me down the path of burn out, so I welcomed this nonjudgmental way to achieve success with less struggle and strain. By cultivating fresh appreciation for each moment, and chunking big goals down into small, simple actions forward, I gratefully — and slowly — learned to bypass the “fight-or-flight” brain chemicals that trigger panic and self-sabotage. And I haven’t looked back since. These days, my goal-setting begins and ends with grace, self-compassion and a strong desire for excellence — because perfect is way overrated. Integrating this concept has led me to amazing mentors and many of the practical tools for resilience that I freely share in my coaching practice. Now, in place of overwhelming resolutions, I choose just one word to
guide me each year, and suggest that you do the same. In 2012, it was “transformation”; 2013 was “impact,” and 2014’s was “wholehearted.” This year, it’s “becoming,” because actually achieving my goals is not as important to me now as who I will become in the process. So, how can you apply this philosophy to your own goals? What is just one thing that could take you closer to a meaningful goal, starting today? For example: Yoga stretches. Gratitude journaling. Organizing closets. Making an overdue appointment. This anonymous poem called “The Value Of One” serves as a wakeup call, showing that every moment counts and every second matters: To know the value of one year, ask a student who failed the grades. To know the value of one month, ask the mother who gave birth to a premature baby. To know the value of one week, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper. To know the value of one day, ask the daily wage earner who has to feed kids. To know the value of one hour, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet. To know the value of one minute, ask the man who missed the train. To know the value of one second, ask the person who just won silver at the Olympics! We have only one wild and precious life. Today is a gift, and tomorrow is not promised. So, ask small questions, think small thoughts, take small actions, solve small problems and celebrate small moments. Because it’s great to dream big, but those dreams come true one baby step at a time. Christina Kunkle is founder of Synergy Life and Wellness Coaching LLC. Visit synergylifeandwellnesscoaching.com.