Watch this clip first before we get into today's topic...
Every one of us can relate to Donkey, and if you have kids, you could see yourself in Shrek or Fiona!
I love road trips. Always have. I remember the family road trips we used to take as kids as if it were yesterday. The excitement building up to that moment you hop in the car. Snacks packed. A book or a few toys. If you had true foresight, something to irritate your siblings with. The buildup was often more exciting than most of the actual trip. Ask Donkey.
The journey we embark on is not very different. When setting our goals, we are always on fire. You experience the emotions of achieving the goal. Getting everything in place to get going builds the anticipation to the start. You can see how you will use each tool you packed. You can see the results. Everything seems, well... perfect.
Our trips were usually long (even if they were not, it sure felt like it). You exhaust all your planned sources of amusement much faster than expected. By the time you find something else to amuse yourself with usually by being the most irritating person in the car, mom is ready to silence you with a blunt instrument. We learned early on that some landmarks we passed meant that we had only a few hours or a few kilometers left on the trip. As soon as you spotted that last filling station, or twisty part of an escarpment, the excitement is renewed. You are loving the trip again! If you were heading towards the coast, no-doubt you started playing games to see who could smell or see the ocean first!
Why is that? Well, it's actually quite simple.
Whenever we start a new trip or new venture, the first part is filled with changes. Our minds see change as progress (we are not loling at the negative). As the trip draws out a bit, the changes in scenery become less frequent, and you are possibly faced with long stretches filled with nothing but grass and sand. This makes you feel stagnant. As if there is no progress. All you have left in your arsenal is "Are we there yet?'. The first few times you ask, there is still a bit of excitement in your tone, and maybe even a slight anticipating smile. By the 10th time you ask, there is a note of despair. This can spoil the trip for everyone and may involve some violence.
So how do we avoid falling into this clearly predictable trap?
Milestones. Yes, it's as simple as that.
Let us use my fitness goal as an example again. As a reminder, my goal is 95kgs of lean-body weight to be achieved by 31 December. I started this week with the vigour of a puppy with a new smelly-shoe-toy. With 99-days to go and about two weeks under the belt, the initial drive is slowly wearing off. I can no longer feel the tight-sore muscles, and the first-week pump from fresh blood in the muscles, as no longer that impressive. I am used to it.
If I simply forged ahead, with my eyes firmly, and only, set on 31 December and 95kgs, I would likely get a rude awakening when I hop on the scale a few hours before the new year.
During this phase, it would have been easy for me to start feeling that there was no progress and that maybe I should dig into my stash of supplements again. But I do not need to. Despite not even being half-way towards my goal, I set certain milestones right at the beginning that would indicate to me on my journey, that I am on track, or falling behind. The target was to see a minimum of 1kg difference after three weeks. Another milestone I set for 45-days on the journey, was a specific body fat percentage. The next milestone is a measurement on my chest, thighs, and biceps after 60-days.
The smaller milestones, that build towards and form a significant part of my journey to my goal, keep my attention on the progress toward, and focus on that goal. I can make small adjustments when I notice I am falling behind. Adjust my course a little bit here and there.
At the same time, I am reminded each time I do a milestone check (or evidence procedure confirmation), of what it is I am working towards, and what that is going to feel like when I achieve my goal.
Can you imagine life with no milestones? No birthdays to look forward to? No New Year celebrations...? Life would feel like one tedious journey of day-upon-day...
As we know a feeling is not a goal, it is a state which can be changed at any moment in time. Goals need actionable and measurable steps to achieve. Set your milestones, as evidence that the procedure/process you are using is working, and will get you to that desired outcome you specified.
A Biblical View
The Bible is filled with references to milestones. Milestones were used to celebrate or commemorate certain significant events on the journey of Christians.
1 Samuel 7:12: Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
Using milestones on our journey, as points to reach as we work towards our goals, will serve as a reminder that God has been faithful in leading us on the path He set before us. This of course can only be achieved if we, in turn, are faithful and obedient to what The Lord has placed on our hearts. If we deviate from the course set before us, we will miss the milestones, and likely realise too late that we have strayed.
Our faith in His plan for our lives should constantly be strengthened. In Romans 10:17 Paul wrote, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
For us then to have faith in God's plan for our lives, and to make sure we reach every milestone, we need to use the word of God as our map.