The easy trap to fall into is looking at Point Z when you’re standing at Point A. So far away…so many steps between the Beginning and the End. Square 1 isn’t an envious position; Square 3,267,524 is where we want to be.
Looking so far ahead, it’s easy to get paralyzed by the reality of the hard work in front of us.
If we measure ourselves against the end destination every day, we will feel the pain of failure every day until the day we finally arrive. This only makes our journey more difficult.
Instead of trying to reach the ultimate goal every day, we can instead choose to try and reach a higher level than we were the day before.
Consider a 1600m runner whose best time is 5:35 (yes, I’m still thinking about Shoe Dog). Let’s say her goal is a 4:00. If that runner trains and practices every day, it will still take some time before she can hit that ultimate goal. Instead of measuring herself against that 4:00 time every day, she can measure against her current baseline.
If she generally breaks 6:00 on a given run, she can consider that her baseline. As she trains and becomes stronger, she can begin running sub-5:30 every day. She’s raised her baseline.
When we raise our baseline, our best outcomes improve too. Maybe that runner now has a best time of 5:00, but is consistently beating 5:30.
Baselines are an easier focal point that help move us along the path to ultimate success. They allow for more frequent “wins” that push us to keep going.
Baselines are the reason I wouldn’t take on a 54-year-old Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 or a 77-year-old Jack Nicklaus in a round of golf. No matter how long they’ve been out of the game, they’ve put in the work to raise their baseline higher than my best outcomes will ever be.
Before you know it, Point A becomes Point B. Square 1 becomes Square 2.
And at some point, your baseline will be within reach of your goal, with a lot of wins along the way.