Some tasks are so overwhelming that just taking the first step seems daunting. I mean, you already have a lot on your plate so when would you even have the time to devote to it? And if you could somehow find the time, where would you begin? You’ve never tackled something like this before so you’re full sure you’ll mess it up somehow. No, it’s easier to put it off until you have more time. Or money. Or until you know exactly what you’re doing. Right?!
Oh, I can’t count the amount of times I used to have this conversation with myself. If it sounds familiar to you too, rest assured that all that’s about to change. You’re going to learn how to overcome procrastination and, instead, make steady progress towards your goals. And yes, you can do it even if you’ve already got a lot on your plate. (Who doesn’t?) No more excuses, you’re ready for a foolproof plan to carry you forward. Keep reading to find out what it is.
In your heart, you know it needs to get done, so how great would it be to let go of the guilt you feel from constantly putting it off? To no longer feel overwhelmed or over-stretched? To build confidence in your ability to complete tasks and get shit done, thus creating a snowball effect that’ll carry you through the next task… and the next? How much easier will you rest knowing you’ve no regrets?
All you need is that initial push and a plan of attack to start making things happen instead of just waiting around for life to happen to you. If you follow the steps below, you’ll go to bed tonight (and every night) with a huge feeling of satisfaction, knowing you’re finally taking full control of your life.
Let’s get cracking.
5 Simple Steps To Make Good Progress On Big Goals
1. Find your “square one”
Very often, the reason we put things off is because we just don’t know where to begin. It’s time to change that. Look at your task and brainstorm some steps you could take to start. What are some different ways you might get things moving, even if you’ve no firm idea of where it will lead or what the end result might be?
Instead of thinking, “How can I possibly do it all?”, ask yourself, “What are some different ways I could start doing it?” Then just pick one. Any one. There is no “best” or “right” way, so go with the one that catches your eye or excites you more, and know that it’s as good a place to start as any.
2. Orient yourself
Now that you’ve planted your feet, you’ll want to know where to go from there. Outline one or two initial steps you might take along the way. Keep them quite broad because, realistically, you don’t know where life will take you and you don’t want to tie yourself down to a certain path if it turns out that another is better. All you need at this juncture is a general idea of which way to orient yourself, so think about where you expect the first few steps to lead you.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll know which direction to point your feet.
3. Take your first step
You’ve picked a starting place and now all that’s left to do is take action. But that’s easier said than done when the whole thing still seems pretty daunting. Here’s how to get over the “first step fear”: make the step so teeny tiny that the thought of not doing it is laughable.
Take a look at the starting point you picked and then ask yourself if there’s anything you need to do before you can take your first step. Keep asking, getting more specific as you go. For instance, you can’t make an appointment if you don’t know when you’re available or you don’t have the relevant contact details. So your goal goes from “Start my own business” to “Speak to the bank manager about a loan” right down to “Google phone number of local bank branch.” I mean, you can look up a phone number, right? No obligation, no thinking ahead… All you need is the number.
Think of something so infinitesimal that you just can’t justify not doing it. Before you know it, you’ve got one foot in front of the other.
4. Pre-empt obstacles
So you’ve got the number of your local bank branch but you don’t know the manager’s name or what department to ask for and, to be honest, you don’t really like talking on the phone at all. And you’re just not sure when you’d have the time to go in. And what if, when you do go in, they ask you a question that you don’t know the answer to? Or you forget an important document? Or…
BREATHE! Remember, you’re only focusing on the step right in front of you. The first thing is making the appointment. Pick 2-3 available time slots in your calendar, and keep it in front of you when you call. If you need to, write yourself a little script. Keep it simple. “Hello, I’d like to speak to someone about a business loan. Can I arrange an appointment, please? I’m free on Wednesday between 10 and 11am or Thursday between 3 and 5pm. Where should I go and who should I ask for when I arrive?” Easy peasy.
Be flexible in your approach, and focus on the process rather than the outcome. Remember that obstacles don’t mean the end of the road, and they usually have more than one way around them. Commit to learning at least one way to overcome them (after all, you can’t fail if you’re learning) and then add this new information to your goal-achieving arsenal.
If you let curiosity be your compass, you’ll soon be taking confident strides.
5. Review regularly
Stresses and struggles are all part of the process. Accept them, embrace them, and, most of all, learn from them. You can do this by reviewing your progress regularly: list the obstacles you faced and how you managed to overcome them, celebrate your successes, and then figure out what your next teeny tiny step will be.
Regular evaluations are important because, in the day-to-day, those small steps won’t feel like much at all, but over the course of a few weeks or months they’ll be quite the trip. When you see how far you are from where you started and how much momentum you’ve already built, you’ll easily find the motivation to continue. And when you take the time to learn from any mistakes, you won’t make the same ones again.
If you want to see how I review my goals, read my 2017 mid-year review where I break the whole process down, as well as offering a free printable that you can use to do your own evaluation.
Remember, if there’s something you want to do but you’re not sure how to proceed, pick a starting point and proceed anyway. Point your feet in your “best guess” direction and put one in front of the other. If you find you first need to tie your shoelaces, go ahead and do that. If something gets in your way, make it your business to go over, under, or around. Learn from each previous step and let the experience increase your confidence. To keep your overwhelm in check, only ever focus on the next teeny tiny step.
Be long-sighted when looking back but short-sighted when looking forward.
When you follow the 5 steps outlined above, you won’t be able to help making progress on those big tasks and goals. While everyone else is overcome by the big picture and watching their spinning plates crash down around them, you’re busy focusing on the path directly in front of you, and you’re going to let it lead you all the way to success. The only thing you’re about to be overwhelmed by is a huge sense of satisfaction.
Find your “square one”… and then get it done.
READY TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
Achieving goals by breaking them down into small, manageable steps is something I cover in much greater detail in my e-course, the Productivity Power-Up, along with lots of other tips and techniques to help you get more done in less time. If you’re interested in increasing your productivity so you can smash your goals sooner than you ever thought possible (including a lot of free printables to help you do it), head over to the Productivity Power-Up page to learn more and enrol.