We’re an impatient society. We want it all, and we want it now. After all, this is the era of “It’s there in 30 minutes or it’s free!” and next-day Amazon deliveries. Why should we wait and take our goals a step at a time?

Because that’s really the only way to achieve them. In fact, taking a little longer to achieve your heart’s desires may be better for you in the long run:
  • It gives you time to adjust to changes along the way.
  • It lets you overcome obstacles and develop new skills that you may need once you’re on the top of the mountain.
  • It allows you to evaluate whether the goal you’re aiming for is really what you want.
Achieving large goals in a single fell swoop usually only happens on TV or in the movies; the rest of us have to take the not-so-short cut. In fact, trying to tackle a big goal all at once can actually discourage you, as perfectionism, fear of failure, lack of confidence, and other negative emotions can arise if you try to change too much at once.
Here’s how to break your big goal down into manageable chunks:
  • Set your first milestone only as far ahead as your headlights shine. Right now, you may not be able to see the entire path from where you are now to where you want to be. Instead of trying to map out your whole plan, just map out the next step. For instance, if you want to go back to school to finish your degree, you know one thing for sure: You’ll need to find out how to apply to school. Make that your first goal, and set a reasonable deadline. Don’t worry about the rest of the steps (getting transcripts, taking an entrance exam, applying for financial aid) until you’ve tackled that first step.
  • Work in chunks you’re comfortable with. Many of us are very comfortable planning about three months in advance; this is the length of an academic quarter in school and a financial quarter in business. Figure out what you need to accomplish in the next three months, and map out steps for doing so. At the end of the quarter, review your accomplishments and map out the next quarter.
  • Base your daily list on your longer-term goals. Break down daily activities based on your quarterly or monthly goals. Each activity on your list should be something you can accomplish today that moves you forward to your bigger goals. That way everything rolls up together, and you’re not wasting your time on unimportant tasks.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you achieve any goal, no matter how large? The same way – one step at a time.
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