An old friend of mine provoked me this morning to think about the importance of the first step towards achieving goals. A bunch of answers and ideas immediately popped up in my head and I decided to put them in order and write them down in this post.
The importance of the first step
Do you have this idea in your head that has been around for some time and you often say to yourself that you really need to start working on it? You know you can start it but there is always a reason to delay and postpone.
Maybe you want to learn a new skill or try to cook the delicious dish you tasted at the restaurant, start a new business, start going to camping trips every month with the kids, start looking for a better job, start a blog, start trading on the financial markets… etc.
All those (and many others) are ideas that pop up in my head every day. I am one of those people that like to generate a lot of ideas and of course I have to give up on most of them and focus on just what I really consider important.
However, sometimes there is this good idea, which I even have on my goals list, but somehow I never get to starting it. And that is the single most important thing for a goal – decide to start and take an ACTION.
Then what stops me from starting it?
I found out there are two reasons:
- The goal no matter if small or really big needs to be broken down to steps. And the reality is that we actually don’t need the whole plan of steps although it is usually useful to think a little ahead. What’s necessary is just the first really small step. That may be to just sit and browse for five minutes in google and find the recipe for the dish, pick up the phone and ask for prices, talk to friends if you can eventually join them next weekend on a camping trip, etc. Having the first small step helps to cross the invisible boundary towards your goal, showing you the door in the first wall you have to overcome towards it.
- Getting out of the comfort zone. The bigger the goal, the more you have to go out of your comfort zone and therefore the bigger the resistance. And I believe that this resistance also applies to small goals. For example “learn a new recipe and cook a delicious dish”. Do you imagine if your boyfriend/girlfriend finds out that you can actually cook? Or maybe it is you that will find out that you can actually cook well and then you will have no excuse for going every night to a restaurant. Subconsciously we may hide the true reasons from ourselves. They may include feelings like fear or unwillingness to take responsibility. But it is not that important to find the reason. It is more important to kick yourself out of the comfort zone and take action. Action on the first small step.
Then once started you can be unstoppable.
Making the first step generates a momentum – a power force that if followed and sustained can get you to your goals. It’s like a small baby that is making the first steps. Until the moment it stands up it seems an impossible task to walk, but once the first steps are made the baby gets unstoppable (unfortunately for the parents 🙂 ) motivated by its curiosity and desire to reach the world around.
Does making the first step guarantee success? Obviously and unfortunately the answer is NO. But it is one of the most important things and you’ve done it! And the good news is that once you generate the momentum it is so much easier to figure out what are the next small steps and make them.
Then if you manage to keep your motivation, you can sustain the force that you just unleashed.
Here are some ideas how to do that
Another way is to use
Imagine the goal as concretely as possible. Feel as if you have already achieved it. Imagine yourself in a situation in which you are the winner. Do you feel success, happiness, freedom… etc.? Once you get to feelings like success and happiness of the fact that you achieved your goal you will start to release a mix of emotions inside you. Emotions are the driving force in our life – they are what makes us move forward.
You can also put more fuel on the fire by
Being grateful for your progress
I will try to keep it short here. The idea is the following – there are three positions you can be in while achieving your goal:
- Start position – you have the idea but haven’t started yet. Point zero.
- Current progress position – you’ve made some or most of the steps towards your goal.
- Goal achieved position – you’ve done it!
Being grateful about something in your life brings more of what you are grateful for. That’s why there are so many articles and posts about the benefits of being grateful and pieces of advice like “write down every day 10 things you are grateful for”… etc.
Guess what you get more of if you are grateful for your progress (a big thank you for this tool to my goal buddy Ivan Tsukev)? Exactly, more progress! It will be a magic how the progress happens faster and easier. But if you instead focus on the gap between the current progress and the goal the only thing that will happen is that you will put pressure on yourself and slow down the progress making it hard and unpleasant.
I am not saying that you don’t have to plan the steps in the gap between your current progress and your goal, I am just saying “be grateful about your progress” and with that feeling move forward to make the gap smaller!
There is one more thing you will need in your goal’s toolbox.
You’ll need it in order to reach the end. Otherwise, you will be just part of the statistic that shows how most of the people and businesses give up just before they are successful. Patience is your best friend here. Keep going and have faith that things will happen in the best way for you. Even if they happen not the way you expect to, this is probably for your best. Faith is the key to patience and peace.
Those were the main tools to start and keep yourself moving towards achieving your goals, but I want to share with you one more which is not that popular but I consider
The most powerful tool
We call it “goal buddy”. As you probably know from our previous posts, me and Ivan are goal buddies. That means that every few months we sit together, go through a series of exercises and revise our 25-year visions and 90-day action goals. Also, every Sunday, we talk on the phone for 15-30 minutes discussing our progress, success, and obstacles.
I can’t stress it enough but having a goal buddy is so important for the progress and it is such an amazing way to keep yourself moving forward and aware of what you want to achieve, that I think the only way to understand it is to try it!
We have a goal in our goal lists to make a software application “digital goal buddy” someday in the near future. Hopefully, we will. We’ve made the first step and we put fuel regularly on the fire. And we have the faith that something great may come out of that. Only time will show.
Finally, go out and make that first step! If there is only one thing you will take from this post let it be the willingness to make the first step. Go out and do what’s necessary – pick up the phone and make that call, sit in front of your computer/tablet and search for the information you need, etc. Once you make the first step the rest will just start to happen.