Take the First Step: How to Achieve Your Goals Once and For All

Have you ever set a goal but never actually achieved it? Likely, the failure was that you never took the first step...

Claudia always wanted to walk the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain. She planned on doing so for years. However, something always seemed to get on the way: “I don’t have time this year,” she said once. “I can’t stand the heat,” was her justification the following summer. “It’s too cold,” she would claim when winter was coming. “I have a problem with my foot—maybe next year.” And so on and so forth in an endless chain of excuses that would result in her postponing the trip until another, more suitable time arose in the indefinite future.

One day, she finally decided to stop procrastinating and booked plane tickets. That was easy enough, but it was the first step—one she hadn’t taken before. Now, she was committed. She traveled with her husband to a town near the French border, spent the night in one of the numerous hostels available, and early the next morning, they started their walk. “We are off, then,” she remembers saying. She took the first step of what would become a very rewarding journey.

In spite of the heat, the wind, and swollen feet, every day was a joy. When, many days later, they finished the walk, she felt that she had already received the prize. It was not about the famous Compostela Pilgrim Certificate that they earned, it was about having done the walk itself—and it all started with that first step.

Something similar happened to Alex, a prestigious salesman who was well-recognized in his company. He had been traveling all over the U.S. for three years following a busy schedule that allowed him to be with his wife only two or three days per week. He was very successful at his job, but now that they were expecting their first baby, he considered that it was time to switch to an occupation that allowed him to spend more time at home. He had been thinking about it for many weeks and didn’t know how to approach his boss, what to tell him, or where to begin. He decided to take a first step and sent him an email requesting a formal meeting to discuss his career.

Once Alex wrote—and sent—that email, the process was on the way and he was committed. He prepared for the meeting and had his arguments ready. During the interview, he told his boss that he was ready for bigger and more challenging projects. To his great surprise, the outcome of the meeting was excellent: he was promoted to general sales supervisor, an office-based job with very little travel. That email was the starting point, the first step. Without it, the promotion may not have materialized.

There are many other true stories just like this.

You want to achieve a goal, have an objective in mind, and may even have a plan. But, the whole process of working toward a desired outcome relies on you taking the all-important first step.

Start your own business? Get a loan? Ask someone out? Change your job? Write a book? Further your education? Achieving your goal starts with the determination to make the first move… and with actually making the first move.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

Ask yourself: What’s down the road? What obstacles do I face?

It’s nice to stay in our “comfort zone.” It is, well, comfortable. And, that’s the first obstacle. The way to overcome it is to define and take the first step, to make a move. Even if it’s just a very small step in the right direction. For example:

Want to start your own business?
Make an initial—basic—financial plan, or perhaps draw a project outline. Start acting on your dream!

Want to get a loan?
Visit a few banks. Develop an understanding of the process. Learn to handle objections. See what it really takes.

Want to ask someone out?
Find out what they like. Start with something simple like a coffee at a “neutral” place. Say hi!

Want to change your job?
Write or update your resume. Attend professional meetings. Build up your network.

And so on…

It’s all about moving in the right direction, even if that direction is changed later, as you progress. Break your goal into attainable pieces, and get started with the first one.

Things can, and probably will, fail sometimes. They may not turn out as you hope. That’s how things work (or don’t). The idea is to learn from your failures, to learn from your own experience, and move on. The real failure is not trying because you don't think you are good enough.

If you concentrate only on the obstacles, you’ll become an expert in obstacles. If you concentrate on reaching your objective, you’ll become an expert on your objective.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Naturally, you have to be realistic. This is about realizing your dream, not about just dreaming. Define the final outcome from Day One and keep it as a reference. Then, put your mind into the next goal and take the necessary steps to get there. Make it a reality, and keep going! Achievement—even a small success, the success of achieving a minor goal—is a great motivator to keep you focused on the final outcome. Give yourself the joy of experiencing a small achievement, and use it to fuel your way to the next step.

If you focus and work on something every day, you will eventually achieve it. Just get moving. Take the first step today. Do it now. Make the initial commitment and follow through. You have what it takes, and you know that you can do it.

I will finish with a quote from Rick Carson in his book Taming Your Gremlin:

“If you carefully plan your steps to get from point A to point B, and if your steps are realistic, and if you put one foot in front of the other to take the steps, you will in all likelihood get where you want to go.”

Need help focusing on all the ways you can improve your goal achievement and job performance? Check out the Pluma online coaching platform and request a demo today. Our certified executive coaches are ready to support you and your team grow.