Stepping Stones: How to achieve your goals.

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For the past few days I’ve been looking at my list of goals and doing precisely nothing about any of them. They all feel too big, too much to consider and quite frankly a bit too scary. So, I’ve been putting off doing anything, despite the fact that I really, really want to make them happen.

What I need to do is listen to my own advice. If I was giving myself advice to get out of my ‘stuck’ feeling, I would say this…

One Step At A Time. 

I would tell myself to break down every goal into the next manageable step. Instead of looking at the whole thing and being completely paralysed with fear that it is impossible, I would tell myself to break it down into steps. Stepping stones are the way to get anywhere and to make the impossible, possible. One manageable little step at a time. I remember when I was learning to horse ride for the first time, just wanting to learn to canter and jump; in that fearless way of all children I wanted to go fast! Instead I spent hours walking around, learning the correct aids, getting a better seat. All those steps would eventually lead me to cantering and jumping, even though it felt like it was taking ages to get to that point, and when I got there I was better for the time spent doing the duller stuff, because I’d spent my time learning properly.

Slow and Steady.

All you have to do with stepping stones is work out what the one next step should be. Not the end. Not the whole great big enormous goal which seems utterly impossible. Just that one tiny step that takes you in the right direction. Far less terrifying.  As the tortoise knew, slow and steady progress, one step at a time, is better than no progress at all.

Writing is a good example of this. I’d really like to write a book one day. I’ve been putting it off, until that day comes when I consider myself to be a writer worthy of a novel and have enough time to focus on it. That day isn’t showing its face any time soon so instead of waiting, I’ve decided to write a little bit when I can. Just to take that first step. That makes me a writer, whether the work is any good or not, which is another matter entirely! Besides, I’m fairly convinced it is easier to edit less than great work than sit looking at a blank white page waiting for the muse to strike. I do it often enough on this blog, after all. 

Is the Step really a Step? 

Sometimes I can tell myself that I’m working on my goal, when I am really not. I am just getting lost online under the guise of ‘planning’. Usually I realise this after surfacing for air from a long Pinterest session, or when I’ve ended up looking at five star hotels for a weekend away instead of campsites that I can actually afford. I need to remind myself to make sure that the activity I’m doing as my next step is actually a positive action towards my end goal, not losing hours of my life looking at the perfect garden on Pinterest instead of planning my allotment crop rotation!

Time to Act.

There also comes a time when the next step has to be action, not planning. There is only so much research you can do before you have to make a move. To DO, even if you don’t feel ready, or the project doesn’t feel perfect. Perfection is over-rated and the cause of too many things never actually coming alive. Just have a go, and see what happens.

Know when to Quit.

In some plans, it is hard to see the next manageable step. My dreams of long-haul travel will have to remain dreams for the time being unless I win the Lottery, which is somewhat unlikely as I never buy a ticket! I’ve done all the research I can and the only step I can take now is try and save money when possible but, for my own sanity, I need to move on from having that dream front and central in my life. So, the final piece of advice I would give myself is this:  know when to put goals to one side for later. Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, the timing just isn’t right. Knowing what is and what isn’t possible right now means that I can concentrate on things that I am in some hope of achieving. And the happiness I have when I make something happen—like moving this blog over to this new site—is so good, it’s absolutely worth all the work.

I’m going to try and put my own advice into action now!

What techniques do you use for achieving your goals? I’d love to hear from you.

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11 Responses to Stepping Stones: How to achieve your goals.

  1. Goal setting, such an interesting topic! I agree with all the points you’ve written above. ‘Time to act’ is an interesting one – sometimes we can spend so long talking about something and planning it out that we feel like we’re actually doing it – and yet we’re not because we haven’t started!

    Telling people of our goals is also really helpful for making us accountable (it’s called a social contract). Not for everything (maybe don’t share on facebook all the chores-related goals) but for the more interesting stuff, because then people will ask how it’s going every time they see us, and if we don’t want the shame of not having started, we’ll be forced to do something about it!

    Maybe you should share some of your goal here Liz (if that’s appropriate) – it might help get you started : )

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think you’re right. I’ve posted resolutions and plans here before and it’s been good to be accountable for them. I think I might do a couple of posts about specific goals now – then you can chase me up if I don’t get them done!

  2. Coombemill says:

    Such great advice, I hope you can listen to your own words too.
    Coombemill recently posted…Coombe Mill Beauty in AprilMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you! I think like many people I’m excellent at giving out advice but terrible at taking my own advice! But – fingers crossed…

  3. I agree with this, little by little, one step at a time makes it manageable. Although social media makes it easy to lose a whole afternoon which does make me angry with myself!
    Franglaise Cooking recently posted…Chocolate & pecan nut cookiesMy Profile

  4. This is great advice. I feel I have so much on at the moment that I too get paralysed and don’t know where to start. I find writing a list just before I go to sleep and leave it on my bedside table helps me focus in the morning and then i’m not stressing and trying to deal with small children whilst formulating a plan for the day/week. Helps me sleep better too!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes, the just-before-bed to do list works well for me too, a bit of a brain dump just before I try to sleep really helps. I totally understand how you’re feeling!

  5. Honest Mum says:

    Great post, I wrote a creative plan at the start of the year, really helped me focus and already have achieved a lot of what I set out to do. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts
    Honest Mum recently posted…What Matters Most? Enter John Lewis’ Fab Drawing CompetitionMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      A creative plan for the year sounds like a wonderful thing. Thank you so much for hosting the #brilliantblogposts linky, I’ve found some great new blogs to read…

  6. I have to write things down otherwise they all start to rattle around in my head and overwhelm me. I would like a notebook with a zebra that tells me to Get it done! 🙂
    Kathryn (@KatGotTheCream) recently posted…Giveaway with Lady MuckMy Profile

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