Brick by Brick

“The great successful men of the world have used their imagination… they think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building, steadily building.” Robert J. Collier (1876-1918), Author

I recently spent most of a week sorting out my children’s collection of Lego™. They are now teenagers, so have lost interest in the delights of putting together, brick by brick, piece by piece, amazing constructions. From a pile of ‘bits’ the most incredible creations emerge. A building, a spaceship, a racing car, a scene from one of their favourite films… There were so many pieces that we decided to sort out as many buildable kits as possible, then divide them up among certain families that we know with youngsters who love Lego™ and would use it. It has brought back many memories, but also made me realize how much we have moved on.

It also made me think about how we achieve the things we have set out to do. We have a goal in mind. Perhaps we want to lose weight, get fitter, build a new business, write a book, pay off our debts or some other aim. So we have the end in mind – as in the picture on the cover of the Lego™ instruction booklet. However, all we have at this starting point is a pile of ‘bits’. How are we going to take those bits and make something out of them? Brick by brick, of course.

For example, you want to lose 14 pounds. The final goal. How can you do this? Firstly, you need to consider how many pounds per week you realistically want to lose. (It is considered healthy to aim at no more than 1-2 pounds per week, although you may find you lose more than this in the first week.) First brick. Then you need to consider how you are going to lose those pounds. Second brick. To lose one pound of weight per week, you need to have a calorie deficit of about 3500 calories per week, or 500 per day. Are you going to cut the amount of calories you eat each day by 500, (do you actually know how many you consume in a day?) or are you going to up your activity levels to burn an extra 500? If you choose to cut calories, you will firstly need to make a pretty accurate assessment of what you are consuming to begin with.

Third brick. This could involve keeping a food diary and weighing and measuring everything. Or it could be more general, by noting down everything you eat and drink and seeing if there are things that you could cut back on, or cut out, by paying attention. The daily chocolate bar, the biscuits at tea time, the after-dinner ice cream. Or if you choose activity, then you need to decide how you will add enough extra to make up the 500 calories. Taking the stairs instead of the lift. Time on the Wii Fit™ or the Xbox Kinect™. Adding more walking whenever you can. Participating in an exercise class. There are many ways that you can up your activity and not all of them involve expensive gym memberships. Fourth brick. Or you could combine cutting calories and moving more as a means to get to your goal.

Once the first layer of foundation bricks are in place, you will be able to build on these until you have achieved your goal. Simple! Well, simple in theory, of course. The steps we need to take to achieve almost any goal are pretty well documented in books, how-to manuals and the Internet. Advice can be found all over the place and much of it is good. The only thing that is required to achieve success is you – taking action, making it work. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many books you read, how much information you have at your fingertips, unless you start building your own dreams, brick by brick, step by step. Without action dreams remain just that, dreams.

So as we accelerate through the year, what are you going to do with the pile of ‘bits’ lying in front of you? Will you sweep them out of the way, to be sorted later, or will you start putting them in order and use them to construct something wonderful? I’d love to know which you choose and how you progress….

© Kate Harper 2011