Three years ago, I wrote a blog post that is still relevant today. In that post, I talked about the necessity of reining in our big hairy audacious goals so that we can start small.
In the three years since I wrote that post, I have to admit, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped I would. I’ve accomplished a lot, but the goals I set myself back then were unrealistic. So, of course, I failed. And failing, beat myself up because I screwed up. Again. And again. And again.
What I didn’t take into account was how much I’ve learned in the meantime. I didn’t acknowledge all the wins, the new skills and the successes, because it’s always easier to remember the bad stuff than the good things that happen.
That’s our survival mechanism kicking in. It’s our subconscious protecting us, keeping us safe and out of trouble before we do something scary, stupid or dangerous.
But, we’re human, so we dream. Sometimes we dream big. And one of the biggest things I’ve learned since that blog post three years ago is this: If you want to dream big, you have to think small. You have to know how to break those big, audacious dreams down into their component parts and then focus only on one single component part at a time.
Writers don’t write books. Writers write words. So instead of visualizing yourself holding your published book in your hands when you haven’t even written Word One, think about the little things you can be doing to make it happen. Commit to doing one tiny thing — 100 words, 5 minutes, outline an idea or research a photo. Commit to doing one tiny thing every day that contributes to your goal. Then, when you have that one thing down to a habit, add in another tiny thing.
For example: If you can find five minutes in a day to write a few sentences or a paragraph, write that. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. Doesn’t matter if it’s even relevant.
What does matter is that you do it Every Single Day. Schedule it. Protect it. Guard it with your life. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself looking forward to that five minutes of “me time” as something precious. You’ll snarl at anyone who tries to take it away from you. And once it becomes habitual, you can add more time, or add a second paragraph.
As you build up this writing muscle, you can take a bigger leap — commit to finishing one scene or chapter — a bigger goal that you can accomplish paragraph by paragraph, five minutes at a time. If you do this, by next New Year, you’ll have several stories written and be well on the way to finishing your book.
Three years ago, I had a goal of building a business online, so I had to figure out how people who have successful online businesses got there. What baby steps did they take to get to where they are now? How long did it take and what mistakes did they make?
They had to do research on mailing list software and autoresponders, website design and marketing. Then they had to learn how all that software works. Then set up an opt-in form so they could start building a mailing list. Then get their first subscriber. Then learn how to speak to that subscriber and all the other new subscribers in newsletters, blog posts and videos. Then figure out how to sell stuff and what to sell, then learn how to create content, courses, training, books, even physical products. And how to do that over and over and over again without burning out.
So my newest goal for 2022, my BHAG, my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal is to create a membership site with live, weekly, online classes. I have no clue how to do that. But I do know how to find out, thanks to the skills I’ve learned over the past three years. I know how to break that BHAG down into all the steps I need to work through in order to get where I want to be by next New Year.
And, one tiny step at a time, I will get there. Because I’m not focused on building a business. I’m focused on doing only one little task at a time. And when all those baby steps add up, Voilà. I’ll have built a business!
If failure is a necessary part of winning — if it’s a critical ingredient to achieving eventual success, then the past three years have been essential for my inevitably successful future.
I can’t wait to see it!
If you want to know how to break down your own BHAGs into a manageable To-Do list, get my mini-course, entitled “Overcoming Overwhelm and Procrastination — How to organize and prioritize every project in your life”. It will show you the exact process I used to figure out what I need to do and in what order.
Happy New Year, and Happy New Goals!