Spoiler alert: it’s not that hard.
Whenever I have a daunting project to work on, I start imagining the end goal. I get easily frustrated, because almost everything I do I want to do at a sprint. I get caught up in doing “research” (you know — Pinterest), making plans, and trying to figure out how I can quickly get to the finish line.
Worthwhile change is a marathon, though. And as frustrating as that is, you have to start moving or the finish line will never be in sight.
The secret to reaching your goals is to just get started.
Even if you don’t think you’re capable of reaching your goals, you need to start on them. Without a start (however big or small), you won’t be able to reach the finish line and see your goals completed.
First, pick a small project.
Start with something small that will help you move toward your goals, but also offers a smaller milestone with which to check your progress.
Dave Ramsey does this with his debt snowball method. Instead of looking at your mountain of debt and trying to crush it all at once, he recommends starting with the smallest portion first. After paying that off, move to the next smallest. Each debt paid off gives you the satisfaction of reaching a goal, and the motivation to continue.
Likewise, if your goal is to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, don’t look at your house as one project. Break it up by room, starting wherever makes the most sense. You might try a closet first (like I did when I was pregnant), since old clothes and shoes are relatively easy to get rid of, or you might start with a more visible project like the living room.
Action step one: decide what project will help you in reaching your goals. Does this project reflect your end goal?
Ask yourself this: if you only get one thing done today, what is it?
I love to-do lists, but they often get a little too overwhelming. I get excited with the prospect of planning out my day, and tend to clutter it with unnecessary items. Try breaking down your list into categories:
- Must do (The single most important item of the day)
- Should do (2-3 tasks that can be put off by one day at most)
- Might do if there is time
Keep your tasks reasonable, but really focus on your first item. If you can only get one thing done today, do that item. No, it probably shouldn’t be laundry. Make it meaningful and essential to your goals.
Action step two: make your to-do list for today. Think hard about what you can reasonably accomplish in your day — don’t forget to include taking care of children, work commitments, social engagements, and self-care.
An object in motion stays in motion.
Keep moving forward, no matter what. Make a commitment to yourself to complete a goal, and don’t stop until it is achieved.
Many people use visual reminders of their goals to keep motivation strong. Taping a picture of your dream body to the bathroom mirror might help you remember to work out first thing, and a reliable thermometer tracker is excellent for keeping your debt payoff in full view.
Action step three: whatever you do, don’t stop moving. Ask yourself how you will continue working on your goals if something unexpected happens. Are you still on track with reaching your goals if your car breaks down? What if you become sick?
It’s normal to make adjustments to your goals along the way, but don’t give up on them. If your goals are financial, remember that even $5 extra on a loan each month adds up to $60 at the end of a year. You can’t donate 10 boxes of things to the Goodwill without donating the first one. And you definitely can’t have a masterpiece garden without planting the first seed.
Focus on progress, not perfection, and just start!