I spoke in last week’s article about how common it is for people to get visionary and think about what they want for their life and then, almost as quickly as the vision had appeared, it gets shut it down by all the reasons why it won’t work and all that could go wrong if they make those changes in their life.
If you’re doing that, it’s because you’re focusing your energy too many steps down the path; you’re focusing the majority of your thoughts on steps twenty-five, twenty-six or twenty-seven, when you haven’t yet even taken the first step. Sure, there is merit to considering the future (having a long term vision) and the consequences of your actions. If you find though that thinking about the future and what could go wrong, or what if you fail, to the extent that you’re not even taking a first step, then it’s time to readjust your focus.
Focus on step 1.
And here’s the thing about step 1… It’s probably a smaller step than you think. Step 1 might be tiny. It doesn’t matter how small or tiny step 1 is (Step 1 is often as simple as making a phone call, or writing a list). All that really matters is that you are facing forwards as you take that tiny step.
Let’s do some examples of first steps for goals for the New Year…
Is your goal to get fitter in the New Year? Step 1 might be to go to the internet and find out the number of your local gym or personal trainer. Step 2 is picking up the phone.
Is your goal to give up chocolate? Step 1 may be to get through just one day. Or maybe it is to do some preparation thinking and shopping around what you will substitute in to your diet that is healthier. Step 2 might be making the trip to the shops.
Having you been thinking of going back to study? Step one might be 1 hour of research into what institutions are offering the course you want to do. Steps 2, 3 and four may be another hour of research each night until you’re sure you know of all the places that offer the course.
Perhaps in the New Year you’d like to create a new relationship. Step 1 may be to spend some time alone or with a friend getting clear on what your values are and what you want from a relationship. Getting clear on your values and what you want is a great first step to changing jobs too.
I could keep going on with example goals however, I imagine by now you get the point – no matter what you want to create for yourself, the first step is a shift in focus. Particularly if you’re struggling or hesitating, focus on the first step as a means of gathering information, enabling you to make an educated second step. And that second step allows you to make an educated third step. For each step, something changes inside you or outside you or both. You continually assess these changes, both consciously and unconsciously, all the way to your vision.
You see, every step you take, no matter how small, or if that steps turns out to be a wrong move, is an education. Every tiny step you take builds more muscles in you about how to live your life. And the muscles you need in the later steps towards your vision will be built up in the earlier steps towards your vision. So think big while not getting too focused on the later steps in the process.
In my most recent two articles I got you thinking about what you visioned for life; not the things that are safe to vision, but the things you vision for yourself in those moments when you connect to your heart and fear fades away, even if you only vision them for a moment. Getting to that vision, no matter how crazy, huge, embarrassing, scary or unachievable it may seem, begins with one step – one small step.
Achievement of your vision happens after many small steps taken consistently.
Some people get excited about a vision and they can go after it beginning with some big steps (which is like doing steps 1 through to 20 in one bound). If you start big, it’s not uncommon that at some point you will hit resistance on the path to your vision – because creating your life vision is a marathon, not a sprint. In that case, implement what I’ve said about focusing on first steps as a strategy to deal with the inevitable resistance and to keep facing and moving forwards.
Also be prepared that sometimes you can take many steps towards your vision and realise that your goal is not what you want anymore. Is this a good thing? Absolutely! (For more on this, see article: Living with ‘I might’ will cost you.)
Embrace the possible outcomes, whatever they are. Odds are, when you arrive at your vision it will not look like you expected it would – often it looks even better. At this point, all that matters is you’re facing forwards and consistently taking steps – no matter how small.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King