Having big goals and completing big projects are necessary for long-term success. However, they don’t neatly fit on a to-do list — they require a lot of time, include a lot of tasks, and it’s just so easy to quit halfway through and never finish. Or, for many people, it’s hard to even get started.
If you’re looking at a big goal or a big project and wondering how you’re ever going to get this thing started (let alone finished), here are six tips to help you take that first small yet important step.
- Give yourself a pep talk. Just like a coach before the big game, sit yourself down and psych yourself up. Acknowledge your fears, your anxiety, and your feelings of intimidation. They’re normal, and it’s OK to feel them. But also remind yourself of your past successes, of how hard you know you can work, and how well prepared you are to knock this thing out of the park.
- If you need training, get it. And, know how you learn things most efficiently. Whether it’s from a book, an online tutorial, an in-person class, or with a tutor, learn the skills you need so you can confidently and knowledgeably approach your goal or project.
- Know what successful completion will look like. It’s Stephen Covey’s beginning with the end in mind — you’ve got to know what you’re working toward. What’s more, you’ll need a way to measure your success; to paraphrase revered management guru Peter Drucker, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In other words, give yourself a target to aim for. And, since we’re quoting the experts here, it’s also smart to keep in mind the wise words of Zig Ziglar: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
- Break it into pieces. It’s great and so necessary to think big, but sometimes we think so big that we get overwhelmed and become afraid to tackle projects. To reduce the intimidation factor, take your big project and segment it: break it into chunks, steps, tasks, or any kind of smaller piece that seems more doable. Remember, baby steps! Not only does this approach make getting started much easier, but it also allows for lots of psychological boosts as you get to cross off the completed items on your list.
- Give yourself deadlines. For each piece of the puzzle, allow a reasonable amount of time, and then hold yourself accountable! That last part is especially important. Rewards work as incentives; for each step (or series of steps) that you complete on time, reward yourself with something that will keep you motivated. Whether it’s a massage, those new shoes you’ve been eyeing, or dinner at your favorite sushi bar, find something that will act as a carrot as you move forward.
- Stay positive and stay confident. You’ll probably need to revisit the pep talk tip several times before you get started and as you begin those first few tasks. Envision your success (and everything that goes along with it), remind yourself that you, like everyone else, get better as you go, and remember that soon, this will be in your rearview mirror and you will be on to the next big project.
Ready to get started? All it takes is that single step forward to get you going on your journey of 1000 miles. How do you begin your big goals and projects? Leave a comment and tell us your own tip for success!