If you have ever felt like you were not making progress in your life or business – and let’s face it, who hasn’t felt that way at some point? – then you may have forgotten to pay attention to the little successes on the path. You do make progress in lots of ways, and in lots of areas of your life, but while you are only focused on the end goal, you may miss some of the little achievements along the way – many of which are the stepping stones that lead to the ultimate goal.
It’s not your fault. We are conditioned by personal development books, goal-setting gurus and society in general to aim high and focus on big goals. While we need goals to give us something to aim for, the emphasis and even obsession with the big result can lead us to feel we are not successful until we reach that finish line, which is very sad.
You don’t need to work this all out and do it all yourself, by the way. Accountability can help. Having a coach or mentor, joining a mastermind or accountability group, or simply sharing your goals and progress with some trusted friends, are all ways to involve others in your goal-setting adventure, and you should add the achievement of all of the stepping stones to your ultimate goal.
Sharing your milestones with your network can be motivating for you and for them. Some people really don’t want to share the journey, perhaps because they are worried they will fail and then more people will know about it. That is certainly true for a number of my clients who are writing books; they don’t want to tell people until they are done. And if you are managing others, you may feel that they are looking to you as a role model, so you definitely don’t want to fail in front of them.
It can be annoying and even embarrassing when everyone is following your progress (or lack thereof) and asking you every few days how it’s going. It can make you feel like you are going backwards and failing. If you don’t have a lot of confidence connected to the goal you are pursuing, accountability can destroy what little confidence you have and ruin your chances of success. This is why you need to work with trusted coaches, mentors and accountability buddies.
Someone in my network has been improving her nutrition and fitness, losing weight and gaining strength. She has posted photos and progress reports nearly every day, and updates every 10lbs or so. She recently hit her target set in January (who can resist the new year’s resolutions for inspiring motivation?) and while it was very exciting, so were all of the interim reports along the way.
It got me thinking; if she had waited to post until she reached the target weight, both she and her followers would have missed out on so many little triumphs, celebrations and funny stories. I’m not the kind of person who posts every single thing that happens to me on social media, and when I’m head down working on something I can even forget to update people. But every time I do share with my network – the successes and the challenges – I get so much great feedback that I make a commitment to share more.
If you are working on a big goal – such as getting promoted, changing jobs or careers, starting a business, or writing a book – you probably have the goal broken down into smaller steps (if you haven’t done that, then start by breaking it all down into the stepping stones). It’s a lot less overwhelming and more motivating when you have a smaller goal closer to your grasp.
Look for ways to share the achievement of the steps as well, which allows you to appreciate your progress and allows others to join you in a happy mood of celebration. You, and everyone else around you, will soon see that you are making more progress than you thought.
Mindy Gibbins-Klein is a speaker, thought-leadership strategist and author. Her latest book is The Thoughtful Leader