Ask any of your role models how they got where they are. They will probably say, “Baby steps.” They accomplished a baby step every day and ended up meeting their goals. Unfortunately, many people have trouble with motivation, which explains the popularity of so many productivity and self-help blogs. Other times, people will fall in love with planning. Both these cases are detrimental to productivity, though in very different ways. It is not until well after the beginning of a goal that people tend to realize that they are going about achieving in the wrong ways. As such, many are already set into habits when they discover what the habits are. The key to avoiding either a lack of motivation or an addiction to planning ahead is simple: pick a task and get it done.
Picking a task does require planning, but not an excessive amount. Simply take your goal – like buying a house – and break it down into a number of milestones. Examples of milestones would be to get out of debt (which, in turn, has milestones of paying off each form or source of debt) and increasing income by a certain amount per month in order to contribute the same amount toward a mortgage or down payment. For each milestone, set a deadline. Now break it into smaller tasks that take no more than a week to complete. Now break them down into days. Finally, break them down into baby steps – steps that take no more than thirty minutes to an hour to complete.
Now pick a baby step that you can begin today and that requires no other tasks to be completed first, like making your first dollar. Do it. Mark it off your list. Now walk away. Stop thinking about your goal, and focus on how you feel right now. Do you feel good about yourself? Document that in a journal. Every time you get discouraged and lose motivation, read that documentation. Remember how you felt accomplishing things. Now take another baby step.
Some days, you will do more than one baby step. Others, you will elect to skip a day. No matter what, as long as you keep crossing the right steps off your list, you will move toward your goals. Periodically check in with your steps. Are they an effective use of your time, or are they useless? Keep this list by you, keep it updated, and keep it moving.