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Leadership Challenge: Create Big Results from Incremental Progress

Have you ever said anything like this? “I have this big goal to accomplish X however, I keep procrastinating and cannot seem to get started.”

I bet every leader has experienced this. The procrastination gremlin seems to lurk around big goals. One of the problems is that we think big. We want to make big leaps of progress, and when you look at the big leap, it can be intimidating. The distance between where we are and where we want to go can look like an ominous gulf.

What if you took that big goal and broke it down into simpler steps? What would be the impact on you? Let’s do a little exercise and see if you can make some progress.

What is one goal you have in front of you that you seem to constantly put off? It could be a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – the BHAG that Jim Collins talks about or simply one that has been nagging at you. Just pick one. Then let’s embark on a success journey using the following steps.

  • Step one: Build the vision of what it looks like when the selected goal is accomplished.
  • Step two: Assess where you are today on the goal.
  • Step three: State the smallest incremental, yet repeatable step to get you started towards the goal.
  • Step four: Commit to a time period to take those steps, such as a week, 20 days, or 30 days.

A summary of the above is: you set your vision, assess your current position, and set a path with a timeframe. Great work.

Some potential examples:

Let’s see what this may look like in practice. You have the goal of starting a blog, improving your web page, or learning QuickBooks.  These are actual goals of mine but, step into them as if they are yours.

Step one, build the vision. I will produce two blog posts of 750 – 1000 words by Thursday of each week, or my web page is fully updated in six months, or I have the level of proficiency in QuickBooks to produce monthly reports, track expenses and be fully ready for my accountant at tax time without outside help. Okay, so now you have the vision you are working towards.

Step two, assess your current state. I am completing a single blog post a week usually in a couple of sittings and it is usually complete late Thursday or early Friday. Which is later than I want. My web page has not had an update in the past 12 months. My proficiency in QuickBooks is as a novice. I can reconcile my statements however, I struggle inputting and categorizing my expenses, and I am unclear how to handle my 1099 contractors.  The above are examples to help you get started, now do the same for a goal that is important for you.

Step three, choose an incremental step to move you forward positively. Considering the blog post, I am choosing to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day working on my blog. This has the potential to make consistent progress, build a habit, and not overwhelm myself.

Step four, is to commit to a time period for the trial. I am going to commit to a time period of 30 days. This can be 6 work weeks or a calendar month. I will assess myself along the way and make adjustments as needed, but reserve overall judgment until the 30-day mark. I am going to use a calendar month.

My hypothesis is, by providing consistent time to work on the blog I will be able to produce two blogs a week. I am guessing my 15 minutes will grow, I will get off to a better start, have more ideas, and have a calmer approach.

Let’s do it for you:

  • Step one: What is your vision for a particular goal _______________.
  • Step two: Where are you today in relation to the goal? Be specific, what are you doing to achieve your goal? _______________. (I am doing nothing or I am thinking about it, is a perfectly acceptable answer.)
  • Step three: The incremental progress you are committing to is_________________. I will do ___________.
  • Step four: Commit to the incremental approach for a certain period of time. I will do step three for _____ days/weeks/months.

You have just committed to taking an incremental approach to achieve big results.

Thanks for embarking on this challenge with me. Use the comment section below to share the challenge you have taken on. I look forward to sharing my results and hearing yours.