Turning scary big goals into baby steps

You have a vision. Excellent.

It’s huge. You’re excited.

You can imagine how great life will be once you’ve achieved this epic goal.

You’re ready to go.

Ready… But not going.

Hmm… not sure where to start.

Goal is starting to look a bit too big. Eek.

Self-doubt is creeping in.

Still haven’t started...

Scrolling through Facebook… Looking in the fridge… Watching funny animal videos.

Feeling overwhelmed. Still no idea where to start…

Looks in the fridge again…

OK. Please tell me you’ve experience this, right?

I know for a fact I’m not the only one. Surely you can at least imagine how it feels to have a great big goal, no plan for how to achieve it and to then have your initial spark dwindle. It could be that book you’ve never written, the weight you’ve never lost or the around the world trip you haven’t been on yet.

The issue in this scenario is that the goal is too big to achieve in one or even just a few steps. What was once a shiny and exciting idea can become overwhelming and even burdensome. The trick is to take a great big goal and break it down into baby steps. Not because you’re a baby or you need babying but because it allows you to get clear on each sequential step in order to keep you moving.

In the world of coaching this is called ‘chunking’. When you have a big goal in mind you’ve ‘chunked up’ to a big vision. The next step is to ‘chunk down’ to create smaller achievable chunks/steps in order to build a sustainable path to success.

Chinese philosopher Lau-tzu said,

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We couldn’t agree more Lau-tzu.

It can feel like a huge distance between where you are now and where you want to be, so this blog is about helping you make the distance… step by step.

Now is probably a good time to point out that this blog assumes you already have a clear and robust goal to work with, which means you know exactly what you want to achieve, you know why it’s important to you, what the benefits will be, you know what success will look like and you have a deadline for when you would like to have achieved it. If this isn’t you and now you’re thinking ‘eek. My goal is still a bit fuzzy’ then talk to us about coaching options because helping clients achieve success is what we do here at SESC!

For those who have their goal in mind, lets push forward.


To take a deep breath, grab a pen and write what you come up with as you walk yourself through achieving your goal.

Step by little tiny step imaging going from where you are now to where you want to be, predict what will need to happen when, who you may need to help you, resources you will need and list it all down. Your narrative might sound something like this; ‘the very first thing I need to do is…. Once I’ve done that I’ll need to…’ and so on.

Yep. It’s shocking isn’t it… Creating a strong action plan can be as simple as making space in your calendar to simply take the time to walk yourself through it and capture your thoughts.

For example writing a book can begin with… “First I need to decide on a topic and focus for the book. Then I need to decide who I want the audience to be. Then I need to decide on a writing style. Then I need to decide how I want the book to flow. Then I need to write an intro. Once I’ve done that I’ll….” And so on. All of a sudden a giant goal becomes an extensive list of easily achieved baby steps.


for creating baby steps out of big goals

  • Walk through your goal step by step, problem solving on the go and document the journey you need to go on to achieve your goal

  • If the step isn’t clear it may not be small enough, don’t be afraid of breaking it down and down and down until it’s clear

  • Give each step a deadline

  • Ask someone who cares about your vision as much as you do to hold you accountable and agree on how they’ll do this so it motivates you (and doesn’t guilt you or make you avoid them forever…)

  • Be flexible with how you achieve each step, as you work towards a big goal you evolve as a person and the method of achieving the goal will evolve with you

  • Keep yourself motivated by ticking each step off some sort of list (visual people tend to love this technique)

  • Celebrate your mini-wins along the way! It can be your very own happy dance or a call to a friend to say “I DID IT!”, whatever it is make sure if fuels your fire and inspires you to achieve your next mini-win

  • If you need a pick-me-up then lift your head for a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come so far and allow that to give you the motivation you need to keep moving

  • Be kind to yourself and enjoy the process! We agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson that ‘Life is a journey, not a destination.’

There you have it. Good luck breaking your big goal down into smaller steps. If you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you! If you enjoyed the blog but feel you need an extra tailored little bit of somethin’ somethin’ then email us and lets see how we can help. You may even like to take up our offer of an obligation free chat to see if Success Coaching is for you.

Ciao, Steph

Steph Edmunds is SESC's Certified Professional Life Coach, Speaker and Facilitator.

You can contact Steph here.