An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Plotting small steps helps achieve goals

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert Buente
  • 615th Contingency Operations Support Group commander
We all have dreams, desires and aspirations, but how can you turn those visions of the future into something realistically attainable?

We also have our struggles in life, whether they are relationship-based, fitness, financial or career, just to name a few. The combination of dreams and challenges can create an environment where people recognize that change is necessary and provide the motivation to set new goals. Throughout the years, I have used the following tools to increase my success rate as I try to achieve a goal or make the best of a forced change in my lifestyle.

First, don't limit your dreams because they seem too big. Almost anything is achievable given enough energy and time. The next step is to write your goals down. Dreams don't become goals until you record them in some way. Around the house, that could be as simple as writing them on a sheet of paper to hang on the refrigerator or changing the screen-saver on your computer. At the office, it could mean a memo to those who work for you or who you work for. The key is to build a reminder and create commitment to achieve your goal.

The next and hardest step, is planning. If a goal is worth achieving, then it is worth the time it takes to plan for success. This step can also be very intimidating because the final goal can seem so large and far away. The trick to this is to break up your large goal into several smaller, intermediate goals to create a pathway for success.

For instance, my son has a goal to be an Eagle Scout. Together, we laid out a timeline to step him through the scouting ranks. From time to time, we pull out that timeline to see where he is compared to where he planned to be. With this feedback, he knows when he needs to rebalance his lifestyle in order to keep pace.

By taking it step by step, the end goal seems less frightening and more achievable. Also, don't be afraid to ask a professional for help with planning. Organizations such as the Airman and Family Readiness Center, the Education Office and the Health and Wellness Center are prime candidates to help you achieve your goals.

Finally, don't forget to celebrate achieving those intermediate goals. There is no better way to build momentum to an end goal than recognizing the small successes early and often. If your focus is always on the next hurdle, it is hard to maintain commitment. Goal achievement shouldn't be hard work.

There you have it, a very common sense method toward goal achievement. Remember, dream big, take notes, plan small steps and celebrate success at every opportunity. Big goals can be very intimidating but using this process can help you to turn your dreams into reality.