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That First Step, Five Ways

Both images by xandtor on Unsplash.

Goals come in all sizes. But their greatness—their magnitude if you will—comes from their energy. What matters is the decision to purposely move toward something you want to do, have, or be. Whether you’ve decided to reinvent, change, or discover, two things are true: You’ve got to start where you are, and you’ve got to take that first step.

Here are five ways to get started.

1. That One Small Thing

These goals are short and specific. Maybe it’s to keep a journal, make a new friend, or establish a consistent bedtime.

Changes like this have high value. They improve your well-being, serve as confidence builders, and often lead you to ask “What’s next?” You probably already have some idea of what you want to do. It’s that thought that often nags at you from the back of your mind. It’s that thought that usually starts with “I really should …” or “I’m sure I’d be better off if I …”

Pro Tip: Commit to a start date. Up your accountability by adding by when.

Image by Burgess Milner on Unsplash.

2. Sorting It Out

Is it time to declutter that closet, shed, or bedroom? Maybe all of the above?

A checklist is a good way to begin. For example, sorting the clothes in your closet might start with something like this: The clothing fits, flatters my shape, and is in good condition. As you continue to organize, a vision emerges. The space begins to define itself. In this example, the closet could become a wardrobe full of clothes I love wearing.

Pro Tip: Clutter can be overwhelming. Start with criteria for the things you want to keep. Momentum builds.

3. I’m Going For It!

These are the big ones. Earning a degree, running your first marathon, building a house.

Let’s call these umbrella goals. Under the umbrella are many smaller steps to take along the way. Those steps could include researching schools to find the best fit, learning what kind of training is effective for distance running, or interviewing contractors. That initial goal will be followed by many more, sometimes overlapping, sometimes changing, sometimes stalling out.

Pro Tip: Details and delays got you down? Do something that allows you to remember what you are working toward (make a drawing, call a friend, or re-read your journal).

4. I Just Gotta’ Get Through This

You’ve set an umbrella goal, made vivid that vision, and discovered an ugly truth. Parts of this journey are just no fun. There are requirements for degrees that don’t meet your interest or preferences. Athletic training can be repetitive and even downright boring at times. The nuts and bolts of putting together a dream vacation can feel like a big pain.

Pro Tip: Ask yourself, “What is the best version of this?” Can you change the time of the day or your surroundings while you continue to slog away? What can you add or take away to make this a better experience?

5. This Doesn’t Make Sense

You might be saying “I have no idea why I’m doing this” as you are doing this. You’re not a writer, but you’re laying out a novel. You know almost nothing about Idaho but have decided to spend your precious vacation time there.

Much like That One Small Thing, you have a sense that you need to do this. The difference? This is more intuition than logic; there’s no apparent reason. Still, you feel energized at the thought of it. Stepping into the idea brings you alive. Maybe you have a feeling of freedom or defiance. Notice that.

Pro Tip: Pursue! What have you got to lose?

Questions From a Coach

Are you working toward a goal right now? What change(s) are you hoping to make? What about that gets you excited? Are you stuck? What is standing in your way?

Susan McDowell is a life coach based in Central Vermont.
Read more of her blog here.