As we close out the last month of the decade, many people are already setting their sights on how big the year 2020 will be for them, and for good reason. The new year brings great excitement and a renewed motivation for people to hit new goals and reach new heights in their journeys of self-development. We all want to swing for the fences and hit it out of the park.
However, by the time mid-January rolls around, many people have fallen back into the same habits they vowed to throw away just a few weeks before. Before they even realize it, that fitness goal is lost, buried in missed gym sessions. That book they wanted to write is just another forgotten idea that didn’t even make it past the outline stage. That new revolutionary app they wanted to create is just another catchy name that wasn’t even fully thought out. And so on, and so on. You get the picture.
This may even be you. I know for the longest time it was me. As a young entrepreneur, I pride myself on being ambitious and thinking big. So, I would always set grand goals for myself each year so that I would have no choice but to work my ass off and hit them. It was a way to trick my brain into putting forth some herculean effort to reach my destination. The thing was I would often fall short of many of the milestones I wanted to reach for the next year. I have a basket full of planners that are half-filled, and each has a list of goals that I either had to pivot from or gave up on entirely.
I naturally grew frustrated with myself. I would read countless books on hitting your goals, or on productivity, I listened to hours of interviews of famous people I respected, and I tried a ton of apps that I thought would help me and my business, but it seemed like nothing helped. That is until I started training myself to count my small incremental wins.
In early 2018, my father and I started the Urban X Podcast, where we would talk about the hot topics of the week and give our unique perspectives on them. Our show was different in that we tried to find a different angle in every story, one that might not have been so obvious. It was more than just giving our opinion; anyone could do that. Slowly but surely, the show’s audience began to grow, and when we hit a new subscriber count, we celebrated with the live audience on YouTube. When we hit 15k subscribers, 25k, 30k, 40k, we toasted with each other, and everyone who was watching. We are currently are on our way to 50k subscribers and will most definitely be celebrating on our show when that happens. Now you may be thinking that there are people on YouTube with hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of subscribers on why is a mere 50,000 a reason to celebrate? Simply put, a win is a win.
Don’t get me wrong, we have larger goals and are doing our best to reach them, but if we don’t take time to look at how far we have come and thank the people who helped us in the process, we will see how far we need to go and just feel discouraged and want to give up. It is why when people go to the gym for one week and don’t see six-pack abs, they think the gym isn’t working, instead of feeling proud that they even showed up for a consistent week.
On our podcast, my father and I introduced a new segment we called “Urban Xcellence.” It is where we choose a local or national story from the urban community, and we highlight the person or people for their Xcellent work and celebrate their “small” win like it is a huge accomplishment, because in a way, to them it is. The first Urban Xcellence story we highlighted on the podcast was sent to us directly via email from the older sister of a 17-year-old young man who was on his way to college for his freshman year. To the masses that might not be a big deal; people go to college all the time, why is that important then?
It was important because it was important for him and his family.
The boy’s sister informed us that her brother had major aspirations of what he wanted to do once he obtained his college degree. But the first step — which may seem minor, but is vital — was simply getting there.
My big goal for 2019 was to publish a book. I had tried to do this many years before, and every time I got close, I faltered somewhere along the way. This time I took a different approach. Instead of swinging for the fences and attempting to write 50,000 words in one full sprint (Word Doc), I broke it down chapter by chapter. The book, titled, Urban Xcellence: Unveiling Extraordinary Stories by Everyday People, is comprised of 11 different stories of people I felt exemplified what we call Urban Xcellence. So, I wrote each story in its own Word Doc and set a word count that would help me reach my overall goal of 50,000.
After I completed each story, I celebrated (rested for a day or two) and got right to the next one. Before I knew it, I had a full manuscript that was ready to be sent over to the editor, then eventually published.
I have new goals for 2020, but I am far more confident about accomplishing them because I'm not afraid to acknowledge every step on the ladder because I know it is one step from where I was, and one step closer to where I want to be.
Malcom X. Bowser is a writer, curator and founder of Urban X and the author of the new forthcoming book: Urban Xcellence: Unveiling Extraordinary Stories by Everyday People. Follow him on Twitter at @Top_Xth, and on Instagram at @Top_Xth.