The most important first step to achieving your goals…
Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 201 of It’s About Time – today’s episode is all about a very important first step. A step that many of us struggle with when it comes to dreaming big, setting goals, and following through.
Without this first step… I hate to say it, but success is unlikely. That’s just how important it is.
And the funny thing about this first step, is that it’s probably not what you think it is.
If you ask someone, what’s the first step to reaching your goals – whether those goals are personal like getting in shape, professional like starting a business, financial like hitting your revenue or income goals, or just plain fun… chances are they’d tell you “the first step is to make a plan.”
But… they’d be wrong.
So today, you’re going to find
- The most important first step to achieving your goals
- How your mindset impacts your ability to get things done
- Three roadblocks that are standing in the way of your success
- Five simple methods to cultivate confidence and be your best, most positive self
As this episode goes live, it’s the week of Thanksgiving 2024, and that means that one of my favorite times of year is just around the corner. No… I don’t necessarily mean Christmas or New Years although I do love both of those holidays and time spent with family.
Instead, I’m talking about the release of the December issue of Southern Living Magazine. Every year since 1995, Southern Living Magazine has featured what they call the big white cake front and center in all of its glory on the cover of the December issue. Now this isn’t just any white cake, it’s always layered, gorgeous and incredibly complicated – at least, it’s complicated for a novice baker like myself.
Back in 2019, I looked around and realized that I didn’t really have any hobbies to speak of, and I wanted to change that. So I decided to challenge myself and bake the 2019 big white cake. This was a three layer german chocolate cake with hand sculpted sugar Magnolias adorning the top. It looked intense, and I knew my work was cut out for me.
Every recipe – especially when it comes to baking, because it’s such a science – has steps. And typically before you can even start on the official step one of such a complicated recipe, there are other, unwritten steps.
You’ve got to head to the grocery store to gather the ingredients. Measure everything out. Organize and tidy your baking space. Order cookie cutters or gold dusting powder or green food coloring or whatever else you might need.
But in addition to all of the steps of the recipe, and the unwritten steps that have to be taken before you even begin step one…. There’s another very important first step in the process.
A step that a lot of us struggle with, whether we want to bake a complicated three layer chocolate cake with gum paste flowers, make a change in our career, start a business, or any other goal we have…
That important first step? Believing that what you’re setting out to do is possible. Not just possible in general, but possible for YOU. The most important first step is believing in yourself.
The Importance of Believing in Yourself
And maybe that sounds a little cheesy. And maybe you just rolled your eyes. At this point, you’ve probably seen more motivational posters, pinterest quotes and instagram posts telling you to believe in yourself than you can count.
But before you tune out, let’s dive deeper into what self-belief really means, especially when it comes to time management, and setting and achieving goals. Stick with me, because it’s about to get really good.
So what exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? For lots of us, we’ve been given this message from a really early age.
At its core, believing in yourself is the confidence in your abilities and your judgment. It’s about trusting yourself to manage challenges, to make sound decisions, and to successfully reach your goals.
So why is believing in yourself so key when it comes to time management? Well – the way we spend our minutes and our hours in the day, is best driven by a purpose. We all want to live with intention, right? Especially this time of year when we’re starting to think about what we want to do differently in the new year, I hear so many people say “I want to be more intentional.”
But then, what does it actually mean to be intentional? Sure it sounds good – but what does it mean? Being intentional means making deliberate choices to reflect what’s most important to us.
And you can’t be more intentional without goals. You just can’t.
Being intentional, living with purpose – it comes from the goals we set for ourselves. Those goals give us something to be intentional about.
And even if you haven’t officially written down your goals on paper, or even acknowledged that the things you want to do are goals, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have goals.
Okay – so are you with me? Having a vision and having goals is what gives us the big picture direction to manage our time day in and day out. If you want to be intentional, you have to have something to work toward… a goal.
And when we set goals, acknowledge that there are things we want in life – a lot of times that require us to step out of our comfort zones. We’re charting into unknown territories, whether it’s in our personal life or our professional life. We’re admitting to ourselves that we want something, whether that’s a more peaceful and calm life, or a promotion with a corner office.
When you believe in yourself, and believe that yes, you actually can do the things you want to do, you’ve got your very own inner compass guiding you through uncertainties and doubts that arise in this process. When you believe in yourself you’re able to say “Yes, I might face obstacles, but I have the strength and the ability to overcome them.'”
One thing I want to note here is that believing in yourself isn’t about having an inflated ego or being an overconfident jerk. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean that you believe you’re better than other people.
Instead, it’s about having a realistic understanding of your abilities and worth. It’s acknowledging that while you may not know everything, you are capable of learning and growing.
Unfortunately, I’m sure we can all think back to a time when we struggled with self-doubt. Have you ever told yourself, “I can’t do this.” or “I’m not good enough,”? It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Maybe there are some areas of life where you do feel totally confident, but others… not so much.
Maybe you are totally confident when you step up to the stove to make dinner for your family, able to whip up delicious meals without a second thought – but when you have to lead a meeting at work, or get on a sales call with a potential new client you totally clam up because you’re not sure if you can do this.
Or maybe you’re like me and you’re totally confident when you step up to a podium to give a speech, but the thought of asking a new friend to lunch makes you totally nervous. I mean… What if they say no? What if I’m actually terrible at making conversation and they realize that I’m a huge nerd?
The good news is, belief in yourself – in any area – can be developed, nurtured and strengthened over time. The good news is… even though you might believe that you can’t… you totally ARE good enough to set goals and achieve them! In fact, you owe it to yourself to dream big, and then chase those dreams by setting goals and taking action.
So if believing in yourself can be developed, cultivated – how do we do this exactly?
Roadblocks to Self-Confidence
In order to figure out HOW to pump ourselves up, we’ve got to know what we’re up against here. And women in particular have a lot of specific challenges when it comes to the way we think about ourselves and what we’re capable of.
Society seems to have given us a certain set of expectations about what we can and can’t do. Cultural norms within our communities, families and backgrounds can have an impact in what we believe, and even workplace dynamics can impact our confidence.
Here are three roadblocks that can impact our confidence, and how much we believe we are capable of achieving our goals:
- Our environment
- Imposter syndrome
First – Yall our environment is huge – and the people we surround ourselves with play a huge role in how we think about ourselves. It’s been said that we are the average of the five people that we spend the most time with. Now of course there’s some dispute to the accuracy of that, but here’s what we can take away from that.
If you spend a lot of your time with people who are negative, or who speak negatively to you – it can impact how you think about yourself. If you spend a lot of your time with people who are positive, ambitious, and driven – it can also impact how you think about yourself.
Second – one major factor is impostor syndrome. We’ve probably all heard of imposter syndrome at this point, but here’s a quick refresher just in case:
Impostor syndrome is where, despite achievements, some people feel they’re not as competent as others perceive them to be. They attribute their success to luck rather than ability, leading to a fear of being ‘exposed’ as a fraud.
I got that promotion because I was just lucky, or because I knew people. I won that award because I was in the right place at the right time. My business is successful because I’ve stumbled into finding clients. Having all of these podcast downloads is just super random.
Have you ever heard of the difference between women and men when it comes to applying for jobs?
After reading a job posting, women tend to apply for jobs only if they believe they are 100% qualified for the job – that they meet all of the qualifications listed. Men, on the other hand, tend to apply for a job if they believe that they meet around 60% of the qualifications.
And the third roadblock to confidence is the pressure to be perfect.
Somewhere along the way, “having it all” and I’m saying that with air quotes – started to mean having the ability to juggle multiple roles flawlessly.
To be the perfect professional with the perfect outfits and the perfectly curated instagram feed. To have a full social calendar, while also being an amazing mother, loving and attentive wife. To be Pinterest perfect, perpetually in shape with a magazine ready, seasonally decorated home.
And even if you’re doing really well in some areas, because you’re not excelling at ALL of them, you can start to feel like you’re not good enough.
This kind of pressure can lead to two extremes.
We try reeeeeeally hard to do all the things, and be all the things to all the people. Get burnt out, get exhausted, and get really frustrated because everyone else makes it look so easy. And then we give up.
Or we rebel. Since “having it all” is impossible, what’s the point? We just lean into being the hot mess mom who’s all over the place, never on time and laughs about barely hanging on by a thread while drinking wine from a styrofoam coffee cup.
These obstacles, these roadblocks: your environment, imposter syndrome and the pressure to be perfect – these are NOT personal failings on your part. These roadblocks are NOT your fault. And recognizing that these things are not your fault brings you one step closer to feeling confident when it counts.
So now that we know what roadblocks to be aware of, let’s talk about how to overcome them.
Turns out, jumping over those roadblocks and crushing your goals is all in your head. Our mindset, and the thoughts we think play a pivotal role in our ability to get things done.
Here are Five ways to start believing in yourself and build confidence:
First – Cultivate a growth mindset.
Two Types of Mindsets
I want to tell you about two types of mindsets – a growth mindset and a scarcity mindset.
Introduced by psychologist Carol Dweck, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth, learning and positive change. When you have a growth mindset, you look at a challenge and strive to figure it out. You look at a mistake and take it as an opportunity to try something different next time.
A scarcity mindset, on the other hand, is rooted in the belief that everything is limited, or fixed. You will only ever be so successful. You will only ever have x amount of opportunities. It looks like a pie with only a set number of slices. If someone else gets a big slice, that means less for everyone else – and when you’re out of pie… you’re just out.
A scarcity mindset is sometimes called a fixed mindset. Because it’s believing that everything is just the way it is, and there’s no room for growth or change. When you have a scarcity mindset you tend to fall deeper into comparison-itis, feelings of jealousy, competition, and the notion that we’re not good enough because others are ‘ahead’ of us. A scarcity mindset can trap us in a cycle of constant comparison and dissatisfaction.”
But here’s the good news. If you’ve ever fallen into a scarcity mindset, it’s totally possible to shift gears into a growth mindset. And it starts with shifting the way we talk to ourselves and the way we look at challenges. Instead of saying, “There are already too many podcasts out there, I shouldn’t start one,” think “What unique perspective can I bring?” or “It’s too late in my career to make a change, I’ll never catch up with my peers,” to “My career success isn’t a race, and it’s never too late to learn something new!
With a growth mindset, we look at others’ successes as sources of inspiration, not intimidation. We understand that one person’s success doesn’t limit ours – the world is abundant with possibilities and opportunities for all.”
Embracing a growth mindset also means accepting that we’re a work in progress. It’s okay not to know everything. It’s okay to be a beginner. What’s important is the commitment to learn and improve continuously.”
Second – strategy to believe in yourself? Celebrate small victories.
When you recognize your progress for achieving mini-milestones and wins, it builds momentum and reinforces your believe in what your capable of. Celebrating a win doesn’t always have to look like popping a bottle of bubbles or indulging in a fancy dinner. Instead it can be as simple as having a dance party in your office, or high fiving your best friend.
Third – Focus on learning from failures and setbacks. Practice reframing stumbles as opportunities to grow stronger and wise. Making a mistake is NOT a reflection of your worth. Remember that.
Fourth – Surround yourself with supportive, positive people. We’ve talked in the past about doing a digital detox and a notifications audit to clear your phone from all of the junk you don’t need. Is it time to take a look at who you’re spending time with and do the same? When you eliminate, or at least decrease the negativity coming from other people, and replace that negativity with mentors and friends who will encourage you, you’ll experience a boost in the way you see yourself – which will skyrocket your confidence.
Finally – number five. Take your dreams and ideas, and turn them into actual goals. Goals that are specific, and create a plan for making them happen. When you believe, you will achieve. And when you achieve, you’ll keep believing.
In the wise words of Journey, don’t stop believing. Hold on to that feeling.
So there you have it.
The most important, often underestimated first step to making things happen is believing in yourself. It’s even more important than getting organized and creating a plan.
If you’re feeling pumped up from this episode and you’re ready to turn your dreams into goals then you’re in luck. My super popular Ready. Set. GOALS! Goal-setting workshop is back this year, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
This year’s goal setting workshop is taking place over TWO days in December so you can carve out the time, space and have the guidance you need from me – your goal setting guide – to take your dreams and turn them into goals for 2024.
- Ready. Set. GOALS! – Grab your seat today!