Personal and professional projects come in many shapes and sizes, each of varying complexity. Life changing projects invariably require considerable time and effort which can be daunting when first starting out, but one of the first tasks is to break them down into smaller, more manageable goals.
When you know where you want to be, the next thing to do it to define how you are going to get there. Try writing out all the possible solutions remembering that at this stage, no idea is a dumb idea. Bounce the ideas around and see what you come up with. Feel free to ask for input from other people once you have run out of inspiration.
Choose the Stones
Working through your brainstormed ideas, try and decide which of the options are realistic and will help you reach your final goal. Carefully define each of the smaller tasks, assign them an order of priority and a completion date. Do not be afraid to set challenging targets, but make sure that you have a chance of attaining them. These sub tasks become the stepping stones required to attain your target.
Why set smaller tasks? What is the point of the setting little goals? One of the major benefits is that you will be able to see the route to your goal. Setting out your stepping stones clearly defines your route across the river to your Promised Land. Little steps will keep you focused on moving forwards without being overwhelmed by the overall size of the task.
Completing smaller goals also help you to stay motivated as you cross the river. Every time a task is complete, you will be one stepping stone closer to goal. At times of despondency you will also be able to look backwards and see the successful progress made to date.
One of the best ways to help you progress across your stepping stones is to enlist the help and support of someone who can hold you accountable to your own targets. Get someone to follow you up on your progress and have them help to analyse when and why you miss one. Your helper can keep you focused, recognising successes and helping adjust steps and plans where required.
Many people also find that knowing that someone will be asking about their progress is a powerful motivator for success!
Setting it in stone
Use the following pointers to help you map out your stepping stones:
1. Define your destination. Decide exactly what it is you are trying to achieve.
2. Brainstorm. Note down every possible route to your destination, no matter how outlandish. Enlist the help of others.
3. Choose your route. Pick the most relevant and attainable steps towards your final goal and note them down. Set yourself time limits by which you want to reach of them.
4. Refer to your stepping stone plan frequently. Draw encouragement from the challenges completed and keep your next stone in sight.
5. Keep hopping. Keep working through the stones, and adjust course if you stop making headway for any reason.
6. Keep learning. Once you get to your final target, take time to see what you have learned about yourself during the journey – it will help in your planning for future projects too