Imagine your little girl wants to learn to ride her bike. She sets a goal: “I will ride my bike to school next month.” The next day, she is green to the experience but committed. She puts on her shoes, cleans off the bike, and gets on it only to fall over two seconds later and scrape her knee.
Hurt and frustrated, she tries again, only to fall and scrape her other knee. “I can’t ride bikes! It’s too hard, I am never going to be able to ride a bike,” she thinks.
Was her goal silly? Nope. The problem is she took her GOAL and made it her to-do list the very next day.
The little girl missed all the small steps that lead to her goal and interpreted falling as a failure.
Steps that could match where she was at could be: I will ask dad to teach me, I will practice on training wheels, I will ride with dad, I will try riding by myself, I will practice daily and finally I will ride by myself to school.
Sound familiar? We often think about goals the same as the little girl and end up feeling discouraged believing our goal is out of reach.
As a change expert, my clients frequently begin the coaching relationship by trying to set weekly action steps that match their end goal. I have come to see that this is unrealistic and sets people up for discouragement.
For example, a client who wishes to establish an exercise routine will often say, “In 3 months I will work out 5 days a week.” Their commitment for next week? “I will work out 5 days.”
Success breeds success. Instead of setting a step of what you think you should be doing start with what you know that you can do, especially with new goals.
Your steps should build up to your desired result over time, not start there.
When you accomplish small steps, it builds confidence in your ability to make progress and reach your goals. However, if you jump the gun and consistently set large action steps that you can't accomplish that week, it will crush your motivation and self-confidence.
If you want to start working out, for example, what would be a small step towards your goal? Maybe it could start with putting on your workout shoes for a day, a ten-minute walk, or working out 1 day for 15 minutes. When you make your action step feel ridiculously small, it can help motivate you to start.
I have a wall to paint in my office that I have yet to paint.
Want to know why? Because I set my STEP to be “paint the wall.” Paint the wall is not a step. A more realistic step would have been "spend 5 minutes getting out paintbrushes, or spend 5 minutes moving the desk in the way."
A step should be specific enough you can put it on your daytimer. 2:00 pm Tuesday - get out paintbrushes - that feels doable.
Bottom line: break down your goal and set a stair-step of actions that will lead you to your end goal. Don’t try to challenge yourself by expecting to jump from nothing, to where you want to be. You've got this.
Welcome to 2021 beautiful women of God. You are loved and worthy of support, connection, and care.
Stay tuned for a picture of my painted wall. ;)
Come join us on the Facebook group "Fully Alive" – a group of women working toward creating lives they love. Post what your ridiculously small step is to start off the year. YOU'VE GOT THIS. 😊