Macro vs. Micro: Using Perspective to Achieve Your Goals
While we like the idea of alchemy or quantum change, where something transforms into something else instantly and without any steps, this isn’t the way that life works for the vast majority of us. Becoming the best version of ourselves requires a journey.
This journey of transformation however is very difficult. So much so that people often deem it to be impossible and cave under the ideological trap of victimhood. We think that we cannot do something, therefore we chalk it up to set genetics, or inherent dispositions, or some other unshakable force. The greatest amongst us know this to be false. They transcend their own physical, mental, and spiritual conditioning and boundaries to achieve higher levels- many times beyond what others believed was even possible.
The collective unconscious likes to portray this journey and apotheosis over and over again, and often with the hero being someone who is willingly, or unwillingly, ripped out of their humble existence and expected to save the world. Our real-life Hero’s Journey is often not so grand or so literal, but the struggle is often just as difficult.
It may be someone who wants to gain muscle and transform from the puny weakling into the manly man, or the obese person who wants to lose a large amount of weight in order to take their life back, or the addict who wants to no longer be prisoner to out of control reward-seeking behaviors. The journey doesn’t have to be about radically changing our physical body either. Sometimes people simply want to meditate every day, or develop an adequate golf game, or change their diet to include only things that are personally harvested. No matter what the journey is, it will have difficult moments, but the end result will be worth it.
Without getting too Deepak on you, there is truth in the idea that our perceptions control our reality. Our frame of mind and energy create our experience, or at the very least, influence it greatly. Using this understanding, we can alter our perceptions, and perspective, on our journey in order to create the best mindset for success. Enter the ideas of Macro and Micro.
We’ll start with looking at the macro, as this is usually where the journey begins. Thinking macro is all about seeing the big picture, or the wide-angle view. This is usually why we undertake our journey. We see ourselves as we could be and we see how this would influence ourselves and those around us in a positive manner. We see how we would feel with the overwhelming negatives of our life removed. The macro requires imagination and many times a great bit of creativity. We have to see beyond what we believe ourselves to be capable of and towards a higher reality.
The macro is incredibly important in sending us on our journey. It’s where our motivation comes from, and it provides our energy to take the first steps down the path to becoming a Hero. We must develop a clear picture of where we want to go and who we want to become, and the clearer it is, the better. Having a goal or a destination is incredibly important at the beginning of any journey.
But Frodo wanting to cast The Ring into the fires of Mordor didn’t make it happen, just as Michael Jordan wanting to be the greatest basketball player ever didn’t make it so. Having a macro view of our goal and journey will not actually get us there without all of the correct actions.
This is where we have to change perspective and zoom from the big picture down into the minute- the micro. The micro way of thinking is all about looking at a single choice and nothing else, distilling our entire dream/goal/vision down into one decision. The micro takes away the overwhelming nature of the journey and chunks it down into something that’s manageable. Every decision that we face throughout a day determines who we are to become.
So what does all of this philosophy and language mean? It means that we can’t try all day long to lose 50lbs or add 20lbs of muscle or become a great chess player or write a book. This is a fool’s way of looking at the journey. What we can do is look at each individual decision that we make as the deciding factor in our journey. For the obese person, an easier decision than to lose 50lbs is should I eat “this” or “that”, should I go get a workout in after work or go out to happy hour with coworkers? When we have a few simple options presented to us we have the opportunity to forget all about the enormity of our task, and devote our willpower to simply picking the correct one.
But how will we know the correct choice? When presented with a choice, we almost always have a voice inside of us that tells us the best decision to make. Many people know this as intuition. Others know it as their internal compass, gut feeling, or instincts. Another common motif is that of the little angel on the shoulder (oftentimes with a little devil on the other shoulder who must be ignored).
For the more logically/scientifically-minded individual, you can see this phenomenon as the idea that the brain is a super computer that quickly (and subconsciously) assesses the choices and picks the one that has the highest probability of ending in a positive outcome. Pick the story that resonates with you. How we choose to define the phenomenon isn’t nearly as important as our ability to use it to make the right decision. That voice is usually right, but sometimes it’s falible, which is ok too. Your voice gets better at doing it’s job along the journey as well.
You may find that between you and your voice, you truly don’t know the right answer. In this case, part of your journey will be to research these things and find out what the correct decision is. Almost everything that’s been done before has some sort of instruction manual (usually online), even if it must be pieced together from multiple sources. And if you are pushing beyond what any other human has ever done, then you get to do it the old fashion way by being the guinea pig and learning from trial and error. Your experiences will lay the groundwork for what others will use on their journey.
Once we make the right decision, we move on and face the next decision as if it is the only one that we have to make on our journey. It also helps to give yourself a mental “good job” whenever you make the correct decision to reinforce it and provide a tiny chemical reward response. When we make the incorrect decision it’s best to not dwell on it, but instead to learn from it and commit yourself to making the correct decision next time.
What we see when we begin this practice of seeing our journey one decision at a time is that we are free from the overwhelming nature of our journey. It’s much easier to attempt one more rep than we thought we could than it is to transform our entire body into that of a Greek god.
We begin to gain momentum with each correct decision. That voice inside of us grows stronger and stronger. Many decisions then go from requiring tons of willpower to simply being habit.
But also along our journey, we will invariably get bogged down with the decisions and lose the passion for the end goal. Another way to look at it is that our willpower battery runs out. This is a critical time and the place where most people break down and fall off the wagon. We revert back to our old behavior and before we know it, are back to square one. Many times we are even further back than when we started because now we’ve failed in our attempt and future attempts will be harder to embark on, past failure becoming an anchor against future success.
In order to stop this downward spiral before it gains momentum, we need to switch our perspective and zoom back out to the macro. As Zig Ziglar points out (in the quote above the chillin monkeys), seeing the macro needs to be a daily habit for us. This is where we reinvigorate our energies and get motivated to continue on our quest. This recharging of our willpower battery is very personalized and along your journey you will find out what really motivates you and what doesn’t quite do it.
Finding the balance between time spent in the micro and the macro is a finely tuned art, but one that can only be perfected through application. Once we find the balance, we can achieve almost anything that we want to. As our journey progresses, we gain invaluable knowledge about how to overcome obstacles, obtain goals, and progress ourselves towards our ideal being. We might even realize that these skills are the true reward to be gained from the journey.
And once one journey is successfully completed, and the celebrations have passed, you will most likely find yourself ready to move on to another journey. Each new journey brings about new challenges and new rewards. No matter what the situation is, utilizing the macro/micro approach will allow you to greatly improve your chances of overcoming those obstacles and reaching your desired end. I wish you the best of luck on whatever journey of self-improvement you decide to embark on, and would love to hear from anyone about your journey. As always, if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to hit the contact button at the top of your screen and shoot us a message!
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