“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
At work, I covered my desk with motivational quotes, my favourite was Goethe, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” But when it came to beginning my dream, I stalled again and again.
I spent several long years dreaming about starting my own business. I longed for the freedom of being my own boss but was daunted by the risk involved. I commuted for four hours every day and spent most of that time daydreaming about running a business but remained overwhelmed when I thought about following my dreams.
A different approach
Eventually I realised that the only way my dream would become a reality was by taking a different approach. Instead of regarding my goal as one huge, life changing event that had to be achieved all at once, I decided to break it down into smaller, more achievable tasks. Each time I accomplished one of my smaller goals, my confidence and self-belief increased and a shift from fear to confidence began to take shape. My fears began to subside and I reached a point where I believed I could succeed. I handed in my notice and continued building my new business, using the same small steps approach to help me achieve my business goals.
Maybe you have a goal that seems so daunting you’re not sure where to start? Don’t be intimidated by the size of your goal, instead, view it as a series of smaller steps or sub goals, this will help you to:
- build confidence and belief in yourself as you work towards your goal.
- maintain motivation and develop momentum.
- acknowledge and celebrate the achievements that mark your progress.
- maintain focus.
- Recognise how small and medium sized changes to your routine and habits can support you to achieve much bigger goals.
Try these seven small steps to help keep big goals on track:
- Break it down. Write down all the different ways in which you can divide your big goal into smaller, achievable tasks. You can tackle your tasks in a specific order, especially if achieving some tasks earlier on will provide you with additional skills you’ll need for tasks further down the line. Alternatively, you can choose a task from the list based on how much time you have available each week. Make sure you commit to achieving one small task every day that will move you closer towards your overarching goal.
- Timeframes. Give each task a timeframe for completion. Mastering each smaller task is a milestone towards achieving your big goal. A timeframe enables you to maintain focus and see how your big goal is starting to take shape.
- Know your motivators. Think about your motivation for each step, why is it important to you? What will be gained when you’ve achieved this task? Create a list of your motivations for making this change and keep it to hand. Spend time envisioning how great it will feel when you’ve achieved each step.
- Savour your successes. We’re all guilty of ticking an achievement off the list and quickly moving on to the next thing without considering what the achievement means. Allow yourself time to savour success and consider the lessons you learned along the way. Savouring success is essential for building confidence and developing your self belief.
- Be compassionate to yourself. You’d be compassionate with a friend if their efforts didn’t go to plan and you’re no less deserving of that same level of compassion. There’ll always be times when, for whatever reason, things go off track. Refuse to beat yourself up, instead adopt a positive focus and consider what you can do differently next time you’re faced with a similar challenge.
- Celebrate achievements. Celebrating your achievements is a great way to recognise the progress you’ve made and will provide motivation for the next milestone on your journey towards the big goal.
- Review progress. A weekly review of your progress helps to keep you focused on what needs to be done and allows you to consistently prioritise your goal. Reviews also enable you to establish what’s working well, check timeframes remain realistic and consider any changes that you need to make to the remaining tasks in the light of what you’ve accomplished so far. Most importantly, time spent reviewing your hard work will help you to recognise how the small and medium sized changes you’ve made to your routine and habits are supporting you to achieve your bigger goals.
Begin your journey of a thousand miles today!