Step-by-Step, Turtle Style

Posted on January 31, 2011


You’ve got a goal. Probably a pretty big one. Or maybe you have some big goals if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. So how do you ensure that this year you’ll actually keep your resolutions and achieve your goals?

You move like a turtle.

In my last post, I discussed the importance of moving slowly and steadily in order to ensure your success. And if any of your goals are oriented around improving or creating better relationships, then it’s absolutely essential that you learn to be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and great relationships don’t happen overnight, either.

So how do you make your goals turtle-like? You 1) Break them down into teeny-tiny steps and 2) Reward yourself like crazy every time you complete one of your teeny-tiny steps.

Take for example, Jason. Jason wants to date more often but he’s a pretty shy guy. He also works 50 hours a week , spends several hours a week at the gym and has a close group of friends from college that he spends most of his free time with.

When Jason called me for some coaching help on how to meet more people, I first asked him to list 3 activities he would like to pursue-activities that would give him a high chance of meeting women.

Then I asked him to pick just one activity and to break down this goal into a series of very small steps. In Jason’s Turtle-Step Plan (a plan that outlines the small steps one needs to take to work towards a big goal), each step required some effort, but the effort was pretty minimal. Then, immediately after completing each small step, I told Jason that he must give himself a reward.

So Jason was required not only to break down his goal into a set of tiny, smaller goals but he was also required to make a list of corresponding rewards. Setting a tiny turtle step ensures that Jason won’t be overwhelmed by what he needs to do and the reward ensures that he’ll go through with it.

Jason decided that he wanted to join a co-ed soccer team in his city but was feeling intimidated by the whole process.Here’s Jason’s turtle-step and reward chart, which he’s given me permission to share with you.

Goal: Join a local soccer team in order to meet more potential dates.

Turtle-Step 1: Spend 5 minutes researching online local soccer leagues in my area. (small reward)

Turtle-Step 2: Print out the list of local soccer leagues. Pick 3 that are close to my work/home. (small reward)

Turtle-Step 3: Find reviews for the 3 soccer leagues and bookmark reviews page.(small reward)

Turtle-Step 4: Skim over the reviews for all 3 teams. (small reward)

Turtle-Step 5: Look over the requirements/cost for joining the 1st team. (small reward)

Turtle-Step 6: Look over the requirements/cost for joining the 2nd team. (small reward)

Turtle-Step 7: Look over the requirements/cost for joining the 3rd team. (small reward)

Turtle-Step 8: Pick the soccer league team that seems the best based on reviews/requirements and costs. (medium reward)

Turtle-Step 9: Email league organizer and let him know I’m interested in joining league. (medium reward)

Turtle-Step 10: Complete required steps to joining league. (medium reward)

Turtle-Step 11: Go to Sports Authority and purchase necessary equipment. (BIG reward)

Turtle-Step 12: Show up at first practice. (BIG reward)

Joining a local team in order to meet more people had been a goal of Jason’s for months. With the turtle-step goal-planning process, he was able to join a league within two weeks.

He made sure to appropriate the types of rewards he gave himself with his perceived difficulties in completing the steps. He also honored his courage in taking bigger turtle steps (such as actually showing up at the first practice) by giving himself bigger rewards.

Now that you’ve seen how this process works, it’s time for you to break down some of those New Year’s Resolutions into tiny, manageable steps. Turtle-step your way to your big goal, make sure you’re rewarding yourself generously and often throughout the process and before you know it, that big, ambitious goal will be part of your reality.

Posted in: Setting Goals