Begin your analysis by writing your goal (or final destination, if you’re really into analogies) in the center of your paper. Use the remaining space to brainstorm all of the potential steps (or stops) you’ll need to take in order to maneuver toward your goal. (If you’re more of a kinesthetic learner, try writing each of your steps on Post-It notes. Visual learners might prefer using various pen or Post-It colors to group their thoughts.) Here are some questions to help you think through potential steps:
- What do you need to do to prepare for your goal? What classes, activities, or calls will you need to make in order to bring your goal one step closer?
- Will you rely on anyone else to achieve your goal? Who will you need to work with in order to make this possible?
- Does your goal have a deadline? When will each smaller task need to be completed in order to meet your goal on time?
- Do you see any possible red-flags or detours in your task list? How do you plan to respond if your paperwork is lost in the mail, you miss the gym because of extended illness, or your sales don’t reach their benchmarks?
Recording all these thoughts can feel overwhelming, but relief is coming. Now that you’ve completed your initial analysis, it’s time to put the steps in order to create a path to success! You can do this a few different ways. I recommend numbering your steps OR cutting them out and physically moving them around to establish your order. (If you used Post-It Notes earlier, then you’re in luck — no cutting for you!) This arrangement isn’t set in stone. Give yourself the freedom to re-order, delete, or add tasks during the process. Life rarely goes as planned, which is why we prepare for detours.
Now stand back and look at your task list in all its glory. What is your first step? If it isn’t easy-peasy, and quite honestly “laughable”, then break down that task into smaller steps. Research has proven that if the steps we want to take require too much effort, we will choose defeat and derail our goals. Instead, make it easy for yourself to change your habits and work toward that wonderful goal.
The other derailer is perfectionism. When we get caught up in the nitty-gritty, must-do-it-perfectly mindset, we lose sight of our end goal. Don’t go missing in the abyss of the unattainable. Realize perfection isn’t helpful, but progress is! Keep moving through your steps, even if you’re dragging one leg behind or the deal didn’t close as smoothly as you had planned. Progress will help you push through unavoidable detours and delays as you advance toward your goal.
Here’s to a successful year!
This post originally appeared on The Good Life.