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May 20, 2024

Elevate, Maintain, Or Step Back

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As Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory puts it, there’s a 4 step loop that he calls the physics of progress. You can check out a past podcast episode here, but in summary the 4 parts are:

1. You establish a goal to determine the desired outcome

2. You hypothesize a strategy that you think gives you the best chance to reach that goal

3. You run an experiment to see if the strategy worked

4. You evaluate the results.

With that information, now you’re in a position to update your goal and strategy based on what you learned.

I personally call this the “Think, Plan, Do, Review” cycle which essentially mirrors the same 4 steps.

Tony Robbins says “happiness is progress”, and per Maslow’s theory of self-actualization ‘making progress’ is a core human need. But that doesn’t mean we need to be making progress in all areas at all times. In fact that could be slowing down our overall progress.

This is where I want to introduce the 3 options we have when deciding how we want to move forward at the end of this cycle: To elevate, maintain, and step back.

To elevate our goals and standards is traditionally what you think about when making progress. It’s improving the quality, quantity, efficiency, or output of whatever it is you want to do. It’s elevating your workout plan from 3 times a week to 4, or it’s improving your relationship with emails by checking only 2 times throughout the day rather than constantly. To ‘elevate’ adds more demand to your life to hit the new target.

But we can’t be elevating all things in our life at all times. That’s unsustainable. There are certain seasons that require that certain things are prioritized more, and that’s where the two other options come in:

You can choose to maintain.

That means you’re content with the level you’re currently doing things at. Especially when there’s a strain in your life like getting extra busy at work, or a transition like moving to a new town, maintenance is often the fair approach to supporting your overall wellness without overdoing it.

And sometimes, it even makes sense to step back.

Functionally this decreases the commitment you’ve made to something to create more space for yourself. This is necessary when the current demand is too high. This solves for that by choosing what you’re willing to compromise in the short-term in order to accommodate. This is choosing to decrease your working hours to make time for a sick family member, or taking it easier on your workout routine to recover from an injury.

All three options are perfectly acceptable. What’s most important is that you choose what you want to do.

When you choose to elevate, then you feel motivated to step up to the new standards you have for yourself.

When you maintain you accept that your current level is suitable for your goals.

And when you decide to step-back you can do it with less guilt, self-criticism, and self-judgment because you’re clear on why it’s the right thing to do.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being more intentional. It’s about thinking through in advance what you want, and what most serves you, so that you can take action in alignment with it. Having the humility to know that you don’t need to elevate everything at all times is itself an indication of growth!

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