There’s no way I can do all of this. It’s too much and that’s too far.
Those are the initial thoughts I battled last Friday afternoon when staring at the 12-week plan my doctor had prescribed for me after suffering a complete rupture of my Achilles tendon on Thursday night during a basketball game.
Foot casted for two (2) weeks. Boot for weeks 2-9. Start to work off of boot weeks 9-11. Continued rehab 12+. That’s so far away and so much to do prior.
I was mentally deflated looking at everything that I was about to endure on the road back to recovery, even the painful injections that initiate the entire healing process. I was in an intense mental struggle of just being completely dejected with feelings of “why me” and pure frustration of not wanting to do what needed to be done. It was in that moment I had to check myself.
Staring at that daunting list, I caught myself and asked “how can I make this less daunting?” It was as much curiosity as I think pure necessity. I couldn’t go into rehab worrying about 12 weeks worth of stuff, I thought I might snap if I added it to the load of stress I often tend to carry with work. I started at each section (divided into 0-2 weeks, 2-6 weeks, 6-8 weeks, 8-12 weeks, 12+) and decided to break them all the way down, just like I would when gameplanning how to take on a giant goal.
What if instead of thinking of all 12 weeks I have to go through, what if I looked at it through the lens of one day at a time?
I believed in that moment I had what it took to mange it a day at a time. I’d injured myself on Thursday night, there was a short grace period, and then my recovery started today, August 14, 2017. Today is my Day One of 84. And tomorrow?
Many would think it’s “Day 2 of 84,” but I’m flipping that perspective and what I know will be crucial to my maintaining energy for the road ahead. Tomorrow will be my “Day 1 of 83″…the following will be “Day 1 of 82.” See what I did there? I’m investing everything – my focus, my energy, my attitude – into the one day I can control, today. As long as I maintain the perspective that today is the first day, I can handle it.
We don’t stress about not knowing how a book ends when we read chapter one, and we don’t get disappointed if we fail to reach our goal on the first day we set out to achieve it. We understand it’s Day One, so we simply channel our efforts into doing our best on that day in order to position us to be at our best tomorrow.
So how do I keep focus on “Day One” in the midst of a trial?
It’s a daily battle to maintain presence and “be where your feet are” in the moment. Here are actionable steps I’ve found success implementing a positive “Day One” mindset in the midst of a trial or pursuit:
1. Write it down
Start your day by writing down day one. Literally. With a pen. On paper. Write down 1 / ____, of how many days you have to go before the deadline set. This will not only start your day with the right mindset for what lies ahead, but helps you shift your perspective from thinking Day One was yesterday, to accepting that it is today. Write it on a sticky note you put on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or car dashboard – somewhere crucial that you’ll see multiple times throughout the day.
2. Catch Your Thoughts
I’m a big proponent of using Mel Robbins’ “5 Second Rule” when trying to train your brain to shift a negative thought pattern. At it’s core, you train yourself to count backwards from 5 (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) the moment you start to have negative thoughts or hesitation, and as soon as you reach “1,” you move and take action. This simple habit begins to train your brain to move when… you want to hit the snooze button, you feel fear creeping in to talk you out of something, you are frozen to move. This simple trick has changed thousands of lives, and as a subscriber of it, I recommend it when your mind starts shifting toward looking ahead at week 5, 6, 12 instead of taking it one day at a time. Countdown, then focus immediately back on today instead of the future.
3. Live in the moment
Piggybacking off of #2, live in the moment is key. When I received my first injections and had my foot set in a cast, I was in immense pain. My thoughts started running toward the idea that “I’ll be pain for days, weeks maybe! How would I handle?” I had to recenter myself and think only about dealing with the pain that moment. I can handle it for today, and I can deal with tomorrow, when tomorrow comes.
When we’re on the path toward a goal and we experience failure, we have to understand that it is one event – then shift our focus to how can we a) recover from it and b) use it to set up a bigger comeback? It’s being present in the present and reminding ourselves that what we control is what we do today. And what we do today impacts tomorrow.
No matter the obstacle the before you, or how long your road ahead is, by taking it one day at at time you can achieve success and do it without the burden of overwhelming stress or worry that is so easily found when we start looking too far down the road. Living in the present allows us to handle everything thrown at us versus drowning in doubt or fear of the unknown, distant future that tries to steal our focus. And we need that focus & energy for what today holds.
Day One, every day.