Empowered by Hope to Strategize, 1% at a Time!
A group of folks I know sit around the fire to reflect, revisit, and share the passing year’s impact on life lived. They call themselves ‘Visitors’, passing by through another year but carefully detailing goals met and unmet. At the end of the two-day meet, the goal is to better strategize on the ‘unmet,’ 1% at a time! Strangely, this coincides with a #1 New York Bestseller, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, with one exception; it was conceived 20 years ago within the ‘Visitors’ group. Their stories improve each year because they move from hope to strategy, knowing that hope alone is not a strategy. Most folks are in the habit of hoping every coming of the New Year.
Hope is good. Strategy is better.
From the normal to the highly empowered, hope precedes overcoming challenges. I am among the crowd following the misled way that ‘Hope’ is the paramount go-to strategy.
Granted, we have to move on to the next steps. There are a few thousand to climb—yet! I also have to admit that I hope (sorry, I couldn’t help saying it!) given the precise definition of both words, I will try to strategize more. ‘Hope’ inspires, and we must acknowledge the reality of it. That said, habits, goals, and challenges get listed first on New Year calendars—what to change, how to change, and the ever-dominating question, ‘Can I be the change I want to see in my world?’, requires strategy.
The above thoughts are not necessarily time-specific pop-outs, but yes, New Year thoughts include changes because of the un-ending resolutions we tend to make—to fake even, for at the end of the new year, most common folk like me have a long-run of un-met goals, because ‘life happens’ and oh well! Sad, but true, as Martha would say (ref: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf), but ask the seafarer or the chef or the runner trying to beat that one-second record; these terms just do not figure in their thoughts. They eliminate friction and follow directions because they must.
A habit gets formed.
It is repeated. Time after time. Success becomes inevitable, and it is our choice to make it happen. Fact: it is in our control regardless of time, right or wrong. Damn! When will I ever learn?
Undoubtedly, one of the best I read this year, “Atomic Habits,” is an acknowledgment of self-help and you-can-do-it books. Practical. Some reviews correctly positioned Clear’s thoughts as repetitive over many habit-changing methodologies. Still, it is one in a diamond to how to start small with small actions, move to the 1% increments, add by subtraction (who can forget the Toyota gurus chant on ‘go lean’), and change the system within you, around you, not just you. The author makes it so doable with tiny changes and remarkable results.
Moving to strategizing from hopes and prayer, I will begin to change my system. The first is to improve my health significantly but with slight changes. Cut down on sugar. One small measure at a time. The first strategy would be to reduce exposure to the drool-popping window display of the corner bakery—taking the one lone back-way to work from January 2nd onwards! I am taking the following few lines from Clear’s thoughts and boxing them into a mantra:
“Find simple ways to make the good habit the path of least resistance
Invert this principle and prime the environment
To keep bad behaviors at a distance”.
Strategize and act on a movement, a plan, a schedule, or a reform. Cardinal rules committed resolves and actions imposed on the self fall short of the path to good intentions. In the hope of a better life, we must strategize. Damn! When will I learn?
It is hope, after all, that inspires strategy.
At this juncture, I want to reaffirm my belief in hope. It is hope, after all, that inspires strategy. Wars and battlefields are a perfect example. Every soldier wants to get back home, be with their families, and lead an everyday life, and until that is possible, they strategize to survive, stay alive, and win the war. Hope, then, is the cornerstone of inspiration and motivation but not a plan for success; however, with hope, you can visualize better and play a critical part in achieving a strategy. Yes, ‘Hope’ as a stand-alone, unanchored to any concrete actions or contingency plans, is not a strategy. Still, it spurs us into action instead of remaining paralyzed by endless, realist what-ifs. Strategy demands a healthy dose of hope.
I am in love with hope and with continued small increments in action and towards wanting to see the change that I envision; I will walk the talk, and it starts with taking the back lane to work, and done repeatedly, avoiding the corner bakery, will keep me healthy, and remind me of Will Durant’s famous words:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit,” just as, “the essence of strategy is choosing not what to do, and hope you will!”
Cheers and Happiness to all!
About the Author
Seema Azharuddin is a published writer in both the United States and India. A Margaret Atwood quote is her mantra, “A word after a word after a word is power.” Lifting her readers to the power of the word is her narrative storytelling style. You can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more of her beautiful words here!
Feature Image by Fcscafeine