We all know the feeling when we get the itch to change our lives: the surge of motivation hits, and we’re ready to take on the world. Here’s the problem that we typically run into: we dive headfirst into our goals, trying to change everything overnight. But sooner or later, life intervenes, motivation wanes, and the all-or-nothing approach crumbles. It’s a frustrating cycle that leaves us feeling defeated and questioning our willpower.
But it’s not the first slip up that throws us completely off course. Worse, it’s the berating, self-judgment, or self-criticism that follows us, “You were never going to stick to this…you always do this…you don’t have discipline…there’s something wrong with you…” And all the other mean things we say to ourselves that demotivate us to quit, cut our losses, and close the door out of shame.
Instead of sprinting through goals and finding ourselves in this cycle, we can set goals by viewing life as a series of one-year building blocks. While it’s key to focus on goals in 90 day increments to gauge growth and progress; keeping the broader picture in mind is the secret to actually keeping up with your goals long term. These one-year building blocks are about embracing progress, not perfection.
Your Life Right Now
To take the concept of ‘one-year building blocks’ and put it into practice, I want you to think about your life right now. If you live a normal life span, how many years of life do you still have to look forward to enjoy and plan for: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50? Notice the lavish amount of time you have to do all the things you want to do. It’s ok to slow down and feel safe not needing to change everything you’re hoping to improve on in just one year’s time.
Many of us get tunnel vision once we start goal planning and operate from the sentiment that we have to be perfect by the end of this next year. We have to have everything in our lives figured out. But I found freedom in understanding the vastness of time available. Rather than rushing through life’s checklist, I’m allowing myself to evolve at my own pace using one-year building blocks. It’s liberating to know that change doesn’t have to be a sudden overhaul; it can be a gradual, deliberate journey.
I know it can seem counterintuitive to slow our pace towards our goals because we want to get there. It can seem that if we want to get to this destination, if we want to be this person, we have to speed up. But you’ve likely seen where that frantic energy has taken you, which is spinning out with shame, overwhelm, and procrastination. Slowing down and giving ourselves time to increase our capacity to be able to try these things, to let ourselves fail, and give ourselves time to breathe changes everything.
One Year Building Blocks
We use 90-day decisions to break down longer term goals like the one-year building blocks. For these short-term plans, we might ask: What are you going to focus on right now? Where are you going to go hard in the next three months? What are you going to evaluate? Which data are you going to track? What’s the next step you want to take? It’s a much more strategic process to goal setting. When we think about long term goals, we consider the general direction that we want to go in and why we are doing the things that will take us there.
With the one-year building block mindset, we know that we don’t have to change everything right now and we don’t have to change everything in the first 90 days of our plan. We know the direction we want to take or the person that we want to become and it opens us up to doing things in a meditated and intentional way. It allows us to take things one step at a time, a long enough period to fail and get back up, be inconsistent and give up, and then come back to it without requiring perfection from ourselves.
The more we do this and work on our goals by stacking our one-year building blocks, the more our efforts compound. As Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and they underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”
The beauty of the one-year building block concept lies in its understanding of the human psyche. We’re not designed for perpetual consistency, and that’s okay. The key is in how we perceive inconsistency. It’s not a failure; it’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and continue on the journey.
As we keep stacking our year long goals as building blocks, we can slowly build the life that we want. This framework works for transforming any aspect of life. Whether it’s career, relationships, or personal development, you can be dedicated to setting achievable, intentional goals for each year.
Embrace The Time You Have
So, here’s my challenge to you: slow down. Embrace the time you have. Stop chasing instant change and instead, set your sights on the future you. Join me in adopting the one-year building blocks approach – a roadmap to lifelong growth, compassion, and success.
To dive deeper into this concept and explore how it can reshape your life, check out the Quitter Club for more support at lessonsfromaquitter.com/quitterclub. Together, we can create goals that are built to last.