One of the things often said is that to succeed, you need to do things in small steps. One step at a time. ‘Slowly slowly catchee monkey’.
On the other hand, you also hear that unless you set a proper and major goal, how on Earth will you ever get anywhere.
So what’s the truth?
You must set a goal. It is your big picture. But it is NOT your whole life. Just a pointer to where you want to go next.
What matters is that you also set the steps. This is the plan. Your step by step guide on how to get from A to B (B being your next goal).
Around 12 years ago (1999), when I set up Accountz.com, I set a personal goal. Give up smoking. I had smoked fairly heavily for nearly 30 years. I loved it. I was never one of those people who kept saying ‘I must give up’.
But I had a real need to change my life. In the UK, smoking was becoming increasingly difficult due to new anti-smoking laws being introduced. On top of that I was seeking investment in the new company, travelling by train, loads of meetings, and all were smoking unfriendly.
So I set my BIG goal. Stop smoking for good.
Now, if that was all I had set, I would have failed. Just like pretty much everyone fails at keeping New Year’s resolutions. It is just too big to conquer in one go.
So I wrote down a list of everything BAD about smoking. Bad breath, nicotine coloured fingers (and hair!). Always having to make sure I had some smokes and a light. Massive associations with drinking down the pub, and therefore the fear of not enjoying a pint of beer without a smoke.
Then I applied something quite magical that my wife mentioned. Up to the age of 16 I had been very happy and content without tobacco. If I could do that, then I must surely be able to return to that state.
But, and this is the point really. Going cold turkey like this for who knows how long (3 years in reality), would be impossible. So I set up a simple reward scheme. For every week I stayed off the fags, I would be able to spend the money I had saved from not buying smokes on WHATEVER I wanted.
Within a few months I had bought my first radio controlled airplane. On the very first flight I crashed it into a tree! But I was alive and kicking.
By doing this a week at a time, it very slowly became easier. I was also doing the hardest thing there is to do in life…
Changing my behaviour. There is a statistic somewhere that says it takes 3 months to change behaviour. I dare say that is true, but for me, it took 3 years.
Yes, I stopped smoking on day 1. But it was 3 years until I was finally released from the grip (that stuff is really addictive, it is not a ‘habit’).
So, here are the 3 steps that changed my life:
- Set a major goal
- Break it down into doable steps
- Give yourself a reward as you achieve each step
…and you will succeed.