We all have been overwhelmed from time to time by the amount of items on our "to-do" lists or by what we perceive as responsibilities that feel like mountains to climb. Often, we don't complete tasks or meet goals when we feel discouraged or defeated, or generally weary.
It is possible to attain your realistic goals by following one simple rule: always break your goal down into manageable, achievable action steps. Baby steps that you achieve, however small, will create a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment and will encourage you to keep going.
There is a Japanese concept called "kaizen," literally meaning "continuous improvement"; Kai = change and Zen = good. The main tenet of Kaizen is that big results come from many small changes over time (kaizen.com). The beauty in kaizen is not that the action steps are small - it is that the action steps are small and continuous. One steps leads to the next. This concept has been used to create some of the most successful business in the world.
Keep in mind that not every action step will produce the results you want and they won't all feel particularly gratifying either. Note that the key is to take the step, honor it, review it, see if it is leading you the in the direction of your goals, and then either continue on in the same direction or correct your course and move forward again. There is no space or time for the inner critic that might automatically pop in to your head judging and analyzing your work. Small actionable steps are simply a logical process designed to help you meet your goals - not an opportunity for long self-reflection or analysis at every turn. Small actionable steps keep you moving and focused.
Here are three ways to break down your goals into small, manageable parts:
- Carefully outline the goal. Make sure it is specific and measurable. Will you know when it is achieved?
- Break down the goal into specific parts that are attainable. For example, if your goal is to write for 15 minutes in your journal every day, #1 step might be "Buy the journal of my dreams." #2 might be "Leave the journal and my favorite writing instrument next to my bed". #3 - "set my alarm for same time each day that I plan to write."
- Be mindful of your feelings. It is very easy to know that it is time to take an action step and then talk yourself out of it because you don't feel like it. Goals and feelings don't always love each other! Be mindful of your urges to avoid or procrastinate and use positive self-talk for encouragement.
You can achieve every realistic goal you set! These goals are not fantasies or ideas, but rather true outcomes that you envision for yourself. With the right action steps, it is possible!