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What’s the Best Way to Achieve Your Goals? Take Baby Steps!

 If you want to achieve your goals yet you keep getting stuck, try this easy, proven process of breaking the big goal down into the smallest baby steps.Are you feeling stuck? Perhaps you have big dreams, but  you’re like many of my clients who say, “Maria, I don’t know how to do it!” “I just can’t make myself get started.” “I want to, but I keep getting in my own way.”  What’s the thing that keeps you stuck so that you can’t achieve your goals? Procrastination? Perfectionism? Lack of confidence? Whatever the cause, the one thing that reliably works EVERY SINGLE TIME, for EVERYONE is taking baby steps. When you break anything you want to achieve into the smallest steps possible, you can do it! 

Even when we’re not talking about closed-end goals, like losing 10 pounds or giving a public talk, baby steps work. (A closed-end goal has a final destination, i.e., lose 10 pounds and the goal ends. An open-ended goal is open to change and may apply to multiple areas of life, i.e., becoming more secure. It’s not a destination. It’s a direction.)  Yes! Baby steps can even help you change your inner person.

So if you’ve ever asked, “How do I become more secure?” “How do I become more productive?” “How do I become less anxious?” This article will show you how to break these big concepts into smaller, actionable tasks.

Achieve your goals and get more done with baby steps

One of my favorite NLP presuppositions states: Anything can be accomplished if the task is broken down into small enough steps.

The first step is always defining what you want. This will be different for each person. After all, you won’t know you’ve reached your goal until you’ve clearly identified what you’re trying to accomplish. Only then will you know if you’re more productive or less anxious. So do as  Petra Poje advises, 

“You know that one thing you’ve always dreamed about? Write it down. Then take the first step. Today.” 

Most people get discouraged when the task in front of them is too big, they get overwhelmed and tell themselves they can’t, they’re too lazy, etc. But this is something anybody can learn. Let me give you an example.

Project: “Becoming More Secure”

Define your project: I want to be more secure in my ( life/job/relationship). How does a secure person act, think, speak, look, and feel? 

Write out your answer: A secure person has a certain trust in themselves, they trust their gut, they have positive self-talk, they don’t mind making a mistake because they know it’s part of the learning process, they stay close to a few trusted friends, etc. Working on any of these will get me closer to my goal.

Pick one of these to work on:  “Learn to trust myself more.” 

Break it into Actionable Baby Steps:

1. Learn to recognize and embrace insecurity as a learning tool. 

      1. What body sensations do I have when I feel insecure? (Drawn in, tight, protective of my center)
      2. Observe without judgment, situations that cause me to feel this way.
      3. What self-talk am I speaking at those times?
      4. What regrets do insecurities produce in me?
      5. When do I second-guess myself and not stand up for myself?

2. Reframe all unhelpful states to more resourceful states, such as…

      1. Disappointment to Realistic Expectations
      2. Living in the Past to Mindfully Being Present.
      3. People Pleasing to Setting Personal Boundaries.
      4. Judgmental to Observation.
      5. Being Dependent to Interdependence.
      6. Second Guessing to Trusting My Gut.

3. Define what security looks and feels like.

  1. Break it down into smaller, actionable steps: confident posture, eye contact, self-talk, de-cluttering, savings in the bank, trusting others, not imputing hurtful motives, etc.
  2. Using Steps 1 & 2, improve one of these steps. 
    1. Start and end every day with your intention… “I want to build more trust in myself, by mastering this one thing — (i.e. clearing out toxic influences)”
    2. Break it down into the smallest step — first, clear out physical/digital clutter, then negative relationships, then what I eat, drink, read, and watch. 
    3. Doable Goal: “Only work on digital clutter at this time!” First step — unsubscribe from email clutter, then create boundaries for time spent on social media so I can do something that brings me joy. (Imagine how that looks and feels as you trust your decisions.)
  3. Check your progress toward this smallest step. As Venus Williams said, “Set realistic goals, keep re-evaluating, and be consistent.”
  4. Check the progress toward your larger goal/project.
  5. Celebrate your win!
  6. Select a new smallest step from the list in 3-2b to work on.
  7. When all of the 3-2b list is accomplished, choose another step from 3-1, breaking it down into its smallest steps

This approach creates cumulative progress and momentum. In this process to achieve your goals, you’ll see that it’s a journey that allows for many twists and turns, rather than a straight shot to a destination. Why is that? Because when you begin a goal, you only learn where you really want to be as you travel the path. Catherine Pulsifer put it so well, “Goals are like a map. They help us determine where we want to end up and give us personal direction on which to focus our energy.” I would say life is the map and goals are the signposts along each road we choose, but they definitely help us to focus our energy on what’s most important. 

I started paying attention to the processes and systems that created the greatest impact on my life. Some are seemingly insignificant; some are significant breakthroughs. Combined, they form a road map for Stepping Forward to creating a life of meaning and fulfillment. You can now download an Introduction to The Stepping Forward Program. I’m so excited. We’re almost ready to launch my Program!  

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