You know those lofty goals that are always lingering in the back of your mind? The ones that you promise you’ll get to “one day”?
Those ambitions are exciting. But, let’s face it—they can also be paralyzing.
Let’s take a career change as an example. In order to successfully make that switch, you need to completely revamp your resume. In order to do a halfway-decent resume refresh, you need to get a little more relevant experience. In order to get more experience, you need to put yourself out there for volunteer opportunities or side gigs. In order to land those jobs…well, you get the idea.
You continue this domino effect until you back yourself into a corner of complete inaction. There’s too much to do—so, you do nothing.
Take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone in this self-defeating habit. I’m guilty of this very same thing (and I’m sure many other people are as well). That’s why I found this article by Josh Spector so inspiring.
In the piece, Spector presents a seemingly obvious (yet often-overlooked) piece of advice: Just get started.
“Stop looking for reasons you can’t do the work of your dreams,” he writes. “Start looking for ways you can.”
Seriously, have you stopped and considered what would happen if you just got started? If you stopped mapping out each piece and overanalyzing every possible blunder and just took a single step forward?
Spector goes on to encourage readers to skip right past any kind of preparation phase (which, I do think there’s some merit to). But, if you’re a tried and true planner like me, there’s still a way you can apply this advice—without sending yourself into a panic.
Here’s what that might look like in practice: Take that long-term goal that’s on your list and identify one thing—big or small—you can do today that gets you one step closer to the finish line.
Reach out to someone for an informational interview. Buy a domain name. Sign up for a webinar or online course. Submit your name for a volunteer opportunity. Start a website. Write a blog post. Find one job you want to apply for. The list goes on and on.
The trick? When you’ve picked out just one task, actually do it today. Tomorrow, do one more thing that pushes you in the right direction. Before you know it, the snowball will keep rolling and—slowly, but surely—you’re picking up momentum where you were previously at a standstill.
Put simply, don’t fall into the common trap of confusing the act of planning to take action with actually taking action. When you stop making excuses and delaying your own progress, Spector says, things really start to happen for you.
“You’ll get experience. You’ll create opportunity. It will lead to things you can’t currently imagine,” he concludes. “You just need to decide to do it.”
TopicsAchieving Goals , Goals , Inspiration , Syndication , Getting Ahead , Career Advice , Career Goals , Productivity
Photo of person on smartphone courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author