The first skill in the Choose Movement Certification Program is the ability to push yourself to go the extra mile. Before you say, “I already know how to do that,” let’s break down what that means. Going the extra mile isn’t just pushing yourself when you are feeling the pressure, or when someone is on your back to get something done. Everyone can do that. Going the extra mile is choosing what you want to do and making it happen regardless of the people and events around you. It’s knocking something out of the park because you wanted to. It’s taking care of all those little things you don’t want to do but you know would be better if you just got around to doing them. It’s helping someone move on a 100-degree day even though others are at the beach with a cold beverage. And it’s doing those things with the frame of mind of finding out how well you can do them rather than worrying about being perfect.
So how do you do that?
Choose Where to Put Your Energy
First you need to be able to choose where you want to go the extra mile. It’s common to read articles about how you just need to want it more or work harder than everyone else in order to be successful. The truth is you need to pick and choose where to put your effort so you don’t burn out and so you can still be as effective as possible at whatever you want to do. A good place to start is tasks where you find yourself saying, “I really should .” Sometimes that’s just, “I really should do the dishes.” Or, “I really should call my parents more often.” It could also simply be a boring project at work that you know will help your career if you deliver exceptional results. They do not need to be big things. But they should be important. Remember that you are practicing here. Start small and work your way up.
Forget Perfection and Go for Your Best
The idea of perfection is, well, perfect. The problem is everyone has a different opinion on what is perfect. There is also always something more that can be done to make something better. It could be a fresh coat of paint, more eloquent wording, or simply a different approach to a task based on how you’re feeling emotionally. But you’re probably going to get opinions from all over. You’re also going to perceive opinions from what you think other people are thinking, and you’ll probably hear a couple voices in your head too. What this means is that you’re never satisfied, because you can never make all of those opinions happy at the same time. So how can you still do a good job and be happy with what you’ve done? Re-frame the way you think about a project or goal in terms of, “Let’s see how well can I do this.” And then try your best at it.
By changing the way you approach your task, you immediately open yourself up to a new way of thinking. By thinking in terms of, “let’s see how well can I can do this” you no longer care about those perceived outside opinions. Now it’s just you and the task. You’re competing against yourself only. Now you can focus on what needs to be done.
Believing in yourself is a powerful thing. And that is essentially what you are doing when you tell yourself, “let’s see how well can I do this.” It isn’t arrogance to tell yourself you can do something. And you should absolutely accept the fact that you don’t know everything you can or cannot do. You should also accept that it’s worth trying things to find out.
Few who have ever done something great have ever really known they could do it before they got started. Because they hadn’t done it yet. Think of Gandhi, Thomas Edison, or even Steve Jobs. They chose their cause or pursuit and gave it their best. They chose that cause with the intention of going the extra mile and they said to themselves, “let’s see how well I can do this,” whether they knew it or not. Then they took one step at a time. And they got there. The same idea applies to any goal or task you want to undertake.
Move Past Your Typical
When it comes to motivating yourself to do something, it is likely you have some internal mechanisms that hold you back. Here are a few typical ones and what to do about them:
“I don’t know where to start.”
This is probably the most common thing that runs through people’s heads when taking on a new challenge. You might notice it as an uncomfortable feeling when you start thinking about doing that task you want to do. It just feels kind of weird. Other times you get an odd tired feeling when you start thinking about the task. But the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter where you start. What matters is that you do start. You may want to do it the most efficiently, but you’ll learn how to do that as you go along, rather than by not doing it at all. So just pick up any of the plates, and wash that first, then pick up another one. Or just start brainstorming ideas on how to build out that project. Ask someone their opinion. Then ask someone else. Drive yourself to the gym. Begin.
“I don’t know what they want, and I don’t want to ask.”
In this case, you care more about your boss’ or whoever’s opinion about you more than doing a good job at your work. How likely is it that someone will actually judge you more if you ask intelligent questions to do a good job rather than if you deliver sub-par work in the end? The key here is to think about the work first. Identify what you know and what you need to know. This way when you go to ask your questions, you come across as knowledgeable and prepared. If you tell yourself, “let’s see how well can I do this” your response will probably be something like, “well, if I knew x, y, and z, I could do a better job.” That’s your starting point for what to ask.
“I can’t do this.”
This statement is either you giving up or you making an excuse. The real fact of the matter is you probably just don’t know how to do the task or how to manage it. All you need to do is get started somewhere and focus on trying. Learn what you can, and implement it as best you can. Start to break the task down. Maybe it’s too much for you to do all at once. So it needs to be broken into manageable pieces. Or there isn’t enough time, so you need to get other people involved. Don’t know where to start? Consult someone.
One of the most important pieces to this puzzle is resilience. Just because you’re tired or would rather be doing something else doesn’t meant that you can’t power through. Typically we get worn out by a task right before it starts becoming easier. Just by sticking with it and getting over that hump we can finish strong. If you do this a few times, you’ll start noticing more confidence and energy showing up for future tasks. It will help if you focus more on doing the task and less on how you feel about the task. Now you know you can make something happen. Now you know you can beat it.
Here are some suggestions about what you can do to practice going the extra mile.
- When you approach a task, think about it in terms of “Let’s see how well I can do this.”
- Avoid “I hope people don’t think this is dumb,” “This doesn’t matter,” or “I don’t know if I can do this.”
- Go about your day and pay attention to how you feel when you do things. How often do you feel pressure from thinking about how you look to the people around you? How often do you run through “what if” scenarios of unlikely events?
- Pick a project or task that you are going to knock out of the park this week.
- Working on homework? Double-check your answers. At work, proofread that email before sending it out.
- Add finishing touches to a report or presentation (i.e. nice colors, graphics, labeled axes, most-anticipated questions)
- Tired? Power through to get that one last thing done.
- Been putting something off? Sit down and break it into tiny manageable pieces
- Write down your daily accomplishments
- What are your roadblocks? What makes you tired? What makes you lose time? Identify these.
- Spending time with someone? Put everything else aside for now. This time is for them. You’ll enjoy it more this way too.
- Stuck? Ask someone for help or advice to get you on to the next step.
A confident, strong person is able to see where something needs to be done and does it. Confident people don’t only do what’s easy, and they don’t only do difficult or mundane tasks when they feel like doing them. These people identify goals or projects that they think are important and they make them happen without worrying about pleasing everyone. Instead they focus on doing their best. When there is opportunity for improvement strong people jump on it as an opportunity. Much of their confidence and strength comes from the fact that they know that pushing through a tough project or even a small goal will take them further and prove to themselves that they are more capable than they thought. And they know it will make them more successful in their next goal or task. They can go the extra mile.