Taking the First Steps

When you have a goal in mind, big or small, what’s the most important element in achieving it? For me, it’s always about taking the first step. But though it’s easy to acknowledge, that first step can feel like spanning a chasm much wider than your legs can reach.

"Ausable Chasm" by Daryll Kenyon on Flickr

“Ausable Chasm” by Daryll Kenyon on Flickr


  1.  We don’t know where to start.
  2.  We’re embarrassed of the goal.
  3.  There are barriers–time, money, knowledge, etc.
  4.  We’re afraid to fail.

And I’m sure anyone could add more reasons why taking that first step is so difficult.

"Footprint" by Harry (Howard) Potts on Flickr. (image flipped and text added)

“Footprint” by Harry (Howard) Potts on Flickr. (image flipped and text added)

A while back, I’d written about various organizational tools and the Passion Planner, an agenda planner that focusses on helping the user identify and achieve goals that reflect their passions. The planner gives frequent opportunities to write down goals, and create a map of the steps necessary to achieve them.

In all of these exercises, a recurring theme is this idea of taking that first significant step. For example, one weekly prompt I recently had was this:

Think about that one goal that, if achieved, would have the most positive impact on your life right now. Break it down into actionable steps and make it a priority by incorporating three of those steps into your week…

I had set out for myself a goal of building up work as a freelance writer. My long-term hope is that by the time my kids are in school, I’ll be established enough that I can work from home nearly full-time and still be flexible enough to be involved in my kids’ daily lives and activities. Part of the vision is also that I will be mobile so we can take a sabbatical year at some point. This is really the self-styled life I want to create for myself and my family.

At the moment, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to produce paid work. I see my job today as a stay-at-home mom. I’m satisfied with this role right now, but by taking steps toward the future goal, I can lessen some of that worry over “taking time out” from a professional life, which is a heavy concern that many stay-at-home moms carry.

But what are those steps, exactly? Have I been setting and meeting the incremental goals toward that future?

To be honest, no, not really. So many reasons/excuses, but now I’d like to get serious.

My birthday is today, and I’m giving myself a gift. It’s the gift of the start. For my birthday, I’m buying a domain name and business cards. I’m going to (re)commit to a regular writing and work schedule. And then I’ll be looking for that first paid job. First steps.

I’ll also be adopting a new way of conceptualizing all of this. My planner has driven my attention to another mental roadblock I’ve put in my way. It has different sections for “work” goals/tasks and “personal” goals/tasks and I’ve often hesitated over where to put my writing tasks, as I’ve also hesitated over when I can “call myself a writer.” But as I take an honest look at my long-term goals, it’s obvious that the writer part of me is my professional self. No more hesitation.

To Do List

Have you been hesitating to identify and take the first steps toward some goal you have? Why the hesitation? 

What do you think?

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