A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

~Lao-tzu

Do you have a goal that you want to pursue?

Are you finding it difficult to take that first step toward making this goal a reality?

What’s holding you back?

What has stopped you from taking those first steps to success?

Here are a few that have affected me at one time or another in the past:

Feeling Overwhelmed. Read the Lao Tzu quote again: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

No matter how large or how small the endeavor, you still have to begin with a single action.  You don’t have to have it all figured out. Simply take the first step.

Fear of ___________. (Fill in the blank.) It could be any number of things.

Failure.  Humiliation. Loss.

Odds are the fear that you’re experiencing is far worse than the actual reality, if whatever you’re afraid of did happen.  99% of the time, the fear that’s holding you back is not that big of a deal.  The potential discomfort you’d experience is nothing compared to the elation you’d experience from actually achieving your goal.

Unwilling to Leave The Comfort Zone. This is just a nicer way of saying you’re being too lazy to reach your goals.

You must accept that achieving anything of significance requires work and dedication.  So logout of Facebook, quit texting and hop off the couch and make your dreams happen.

Comparing Yourself with Others. Your objectives should simply be tied to reaching your own potential.

Don’t worry about other people and what they’ve done unless it fuels you to work harder and do more.  Otherwise focus on being the best version of you.

Thinking Things Had to Be Perfect. Waiting until the situation is perfect is a direct route to inaction because the situation will never be perfect.

No matter how well prepared you are, there will always be something unexpected that pops up, so don’t let the need for perfection stand in your way.

Doing More Research. This is just another way of saying ‘you’re too lazy to do the real work.’

As I just mentioned, things don’t have to be perfect to get started, so the need for endless research before taking action is completely unfounded.

Not Feeling ‘Worthy’ Enough. Not believing that you had enough education, knowledge, skill or experience can stop you before you get started, but the truth is that you can get experience without ‘doing’ and you can’t develop your skill without practice.

Most every ‘expert’ I know felt this way at one point or another and still proceeded to take action.  So should you.

If you’re like me, the seven things that I listed above have at one time or another stood between inaction and action. But they’re all just small obstacles designed to separate the haves from the have-nots.  The successful from the average. The real bottom line is this: no matter what your goal is, the best time to start is now.

I learned this back when I became a college baseball coach at the ripe old age of 23.  At that point I was the youngest collegiate head coach in the country and felt a version of all seven things I listed previously:

  • Becoming a head coach was completely overwhelming for someone who’d just graduated college a few months before.  Being responsible for over 30 young men and a collegiate athletic program was far more responsibility than I’d ever had before.
  • I was afraid of failure and humiliation.  The program had never had a winning season prior to my taking over in spite of being led by two well known and previously successful coaches, so the odds were stacked against me and I was worried about doing so poorly that I’d be fired and ruin any chance of getting another job in coaching.
  • It’s easy to say, ‘I’d like to be a college coach’ but actually stepping up and applying and potentially being rejected was something that I struggled with.
  • I looked at all the coaches of the programs I’d be coaching against and it was obvious that they were far more experienced, more knowledgeable and had superior resources.  I also took notice of the two previous coaches who held the position that I was applying for and recognized that by most any standard they were far superior to me as a coach.
  • I knew that the circumstances I was potentially entering were not ideal.  A program with poor resources, a limited budget and no track record of success wasn’t exactly the ideal launching pad for a successful career.
  • Most 23-year-olds that were interested in being a baseball coach were taking positions as Assistant Coaches for High School JV Teams, not going after Collegiate Head Coaching jobs.  Why should I be any different?

But ultimately I accepted the premise above: the best time to start is now.

And I learned as I went.

When I started coaching, I didn’t know how to run a practice, how to motivate players or how to recruit effectively.

But I accepted the challenge and started the job anyway.

The first few months were really tough.

After my first season I still hadn’t ‘found myself’ as a coach.

We had a winning season (barely), the first in school history in my first year, but it was more of a throwing-stuff-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks approach than actually figuring things out.

Thankfully, the experience taught me a lot. The next year the team did better.  By the third season we were nationally ranked, and in the fifth season we finished fifth at the World Series.

And none of this would have happened unless I took the first step in spite of my insecurities.

And what I learned through that experience has benefited me time and time again.

No matter what your goal, success is a process and it requires overcoming limiting beliefs and taking action.

Maybe your goal is to finally start your business.

Perhaps it’s to launch a Virtual 2nd Location online.

Maybe your goals are to get to $500,000 in business revenue or $100,000 in personal income.

It really doesn’t matter whether you want to start a business or grow one. Whether you want to create your first info product or turn your product into a half-million dollar a year business.

Actually, I’d encourage you to dream big and set lofty goals for yourself.  That’s part of what makes life worth living.

But you must understand, the key isn’t so much what the goal is, but how you act on it.

Once you’ve set your goal, big or small, you will do much, much better if you spend more time thinking about your ‘first steps’ than just the big picture dreams and goals that you’ve laid out.

Just recently while doing a coaching session with a client of mine, I suggested that in addition to the big dreams he had set out for himself, I wondered if he might also benefit from having some realistic goals for the short term.

I then proceeded to suggest a few.

While I don’t know your particular ‘big goals’, here are a few example first step goals that will help you generate momentum and start making real progress toward where you want to be:      

  • If you want to launch a product, consider setting a filming date and hiring a videographer.
  • If you want to grow your business by 100 clients this year, start with adding two next week.
  • If you want to take 100 days off next year, start by scheduling a vacation or at least a long weekend.
  • If you want to do go from a personal income of $40,000 /yr to $100,000 /yr, commit to adding $500 in monthly income next month.

To someone who is where you want to go, these kinds of goals might seem rather small and insignificant – but to get the momentum you need to succeed they’d be a good start.

To get to your big dreams there are a lot of steps in between.

And many of those steps might not be as exciting or as fun to think about as the big endpoint you’ve identified as your ideal destination. But often it’s important to focus on the very next steps that you need to take in order to move towards your goals.

This is how you generate momentum.

By putting one foot in front of the other.  

By getting one new client.

By writing a newsletter to your subscribers when taking an hour to check Facebook sounds far better.

Success isn’t a big leap.

It’s the combination of hundreds or even thousands of little steps in succession.

But most people don’t recognize that, so they look for the magic bullet.

The quick fix.

And while this isn’t good news if you’re looking for immediate gratification, it’s great news if you’re willing to start stepping.

Because you understand that the magic is in the process and the process begins with that first step.

And don’t think that you’re stuck taking what you may feel are baby steps for long.  Once you’ve achieved these first small goals, start to increase them.

You might want to go from taking that long weekend to a full vacation or from adding $500 in monthly income to $1000.

Before you know it, you’ve put a series of steps together and you’re well on your way to achieving your big goal.

But before you can run, you need to walk.

So to quote Dr. Denis Waitley – “There never was a winner who was not first a beginner.”

The most important thing you can do to make your goals a reality…

is that first step.

Written by patrigsby
Father. Husband. Entrepreneur. Coach. Author.