Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.Pablo Picasso
Take a moment to close your eyes. Imagine your life five years from now.
What does your life look like? Have you paid off all of your debt? Have you saved adequately for retirement? Are you traveling through Italy and drinking Aperol Spritzes in the piazza?
Now think back to 5 years ago. Are you living the life you imagined you would be, right now?
Did you have every intention of being further along than you are?
According to goal setting research from Dominican University, of people that actually set goals, only 34% go on to achieve those goals. If you take the population as a whole, that number is even smaller, since only a minority of people actually set goals at all.
If you believe the New Year’s Resolutions statistics and research by StatisticBrain, 38% of Americans never set goals and only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
But that isn’t to say that you are only 8% likely to achieve your goals. When done correctly, research by the leaders in Goal Setting Theory, Locke & Latham, suggests a whopping 90% improvement in performance and achievement.
With the right tools in place, you can achieve your goals, both large and small, and start living the life you dream of.
In this article, I will define Stepping Stone Goals and cover why they are key to achieving your long-term goals and dreams.
Contents and Quick Links
- 1 How to achieve the life you want to live
- 2 What is a Stepping Stone Goal?
- 3 How will Stepping Stone Goals help you achieve the life you dream of?
- 4 Why a Stepping Stone Goal is so important
- 5 Information is not the answer
- 6 Why you aren’t living your dream life already
- 7 How to actually achieve your goals
- 8 Recap
- 9 Action steps
How to achieve the life you want to live
Step 1: Define your “Big Vision”
The very first step in any goal setting process is to get clear about what I like to call your “Big Vision”. Where do you want to be 10 years from now?
Not sure how to define your Big Vision? Visit How To Design a Happier and More Fulfilling Life.
Take some time to work through the process of clearly defining what your future should look like. What would it look like to live the life you dream of?
- I will be living in my dream house, overlooking the ocean, and have a flourishing garden that I can tend to every single day because I’m not commuting and working crazy long hours.
- I will have my own travel business and spend 6 months out of every year exploring new countries and cultures.
- I will be retired and have the freedom to travel and visit all my grandchildren that are scattered across the US.
- I will shop at Whole Foods and have a personal trainer 3 times a week because personal time and money simply won’t be an issue anymore.
You have permission to daydream and spend the time to explore what it is that matters most to you. Visualize exactly what it will feel like once you accept into you life all the things that matter most.
If you draw a blank here because you haven’t even allowed yourself to dream of a better future, take a moment to review (happiness list post)
Step 2: Turn that vision into a clearly defined goal
Once you have your Big Vision, it’s time to break it down into actual goals which need to be accomplished.
Any goal you set should be what I call an XYZ Goal. It must take you from current X to outcome Y by time T.
For example, if you want to be living in your dream home, overlooking the ocean, your goals might run along the lines of:
- I will purchase my dream home within the next 10 years. (No dream home to having a dream home within the time of 10 years.)
- I will increase my annual income from $75,000 to $200,000 (inflation adjusted) within the next 10 years, with half that income coming from personal business and investments.
- These two goals will allow me the luxury and time to live my Big Vision.
Step 3: Break these really big, long-range goals down into smaller, mid-range goals
It’s important to set goals anytime you want to prioritize tasks and habits so that you can achieve more.
But if a goal is too far into the future, it’s just a wish. It isn’t something you will realize anytime soon so there just isn’t any incentive to put the work in now.
This is why your long-range goal needs to be broken down into smaller, mid-range and short-range goals. These are goals that will feel more realistic and achievable, therefore leading to more motivation and purpose to work on them.
If you Big Vision is 10 years into the future, start by breaking that goal down into 5-year goals and 1-year goals. Ask yourself, what do I need to have accomplished 5 years from now in order to be on track to achieving my 10-year goal? Then, what do I need to have accomplished within the year if I’m going to be on track to achieving my 5-year goal?
This process of breaking your Big Vision down into smaller chunks is how you will lay out the path you will follow in order to succeed.
The journey to your Big Vision will have many steps, and you need to plan out the detailed directions so you don’t get lost along the journey.
You can learn how to step through this process by visiting the 10-year goals post, and using the accompanying 10-year goals workbook.
What is a Stepping Stone Goal?
A Stepping Stone Goal is a short-term goal which will strategically lead you down the path you need to take. This path is your journey to achieve the life you dream of living.
Each Stepping Stone Goal you set:
- Can be completed within 90 days.
- Moves you closer to your Big Vision Goal.
How will Stepping Stone Goals help you achieve the life you dream of?
Here’s an outline of how you will use Stepping Stone Goals to accomplish your Big Vision.
Big Vision of where you want to be in 10-years
Clearly define this Big Vision. This is your Cornerstone Goal. All goals you set along your journey are to support your Cornerstone Goal. It is the support goal which directs the choices you make every single day, up until the day you achieve success.
Standing Stone Goal
These are your mid-range, 5-Year goals which support your Big Vision dream. This is the halfway point and Standing Stone Goals give you a future reference point for what you need to accomplish halfway on your journey to Cornerstone Goal success.
Just like the little rock columns that mark your path along an open trail, your Cairne Goals mark the milestones you need to achieve each year on your long-range, Big Vision journey.
Stepping Stone Goal
Stepping Stone Goals are the essential goals that step you through the year. It will take a series of Stepping Stone Goals in order to achieve your larger, 1-year Cairne Goal. These are the goals that will dictate your weekly and daily actions to ensure Cairned Goal success. Each Stepping Stone Goal is a quarterly goal that should take 90-Days to complete.
Pebbles are the small supporting weekly goals which support your 90-Day Stepping Stone Goals.
No foundation is very strong with sand filling in all the gaps and crevices. Similarly, your Sand Goals are the daily habits and tasks which are necessary to support your weekly Pebble Goals.
By going through this process, you clearly define the XYZ Goals (from x to y by time z) that form the overall journey you will take. By working backwards, you will then use this list as a guide to set your weekly goals and daily habits. These are the baby steps which make up your overall journey to the life you dream of.
Here’s what that will look like:
Why a Stepping Stone Goal is so important
Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.Unknown
A Stepping Stone Goal is a 90-day goal which will move you along the path to building your dream life. These goals have to be reached in order to make progress on your Big Vision, Cornerstone Goal.
Your Big Vision is the life you dream of living. It will take many Stepping Stone Goals to step your way along the journey to achieving that life.
Without these goals, life stays the same. You may make some progress here and there, but you may find that 5 years from now, you are still right where you are, right now. This may not be a bad thing, but if you dream of something bigger and better, these Stepping Stone Goals are the key to making it actually happen.
Information is not the answer
If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect absDerek Sivers
We all have information available to us. We already know what we need to do. It’s the doing it that is the challenge.
If simply learning the information on how to get rich actually made us rich, we’d all be billionaires.
Even more familiar to most of us, if simply knowing how to lose weight and become fit was all we needed, we’d all be perfectly toned and healthy.
Information is not the answer. We have the information.
So why is this the first place we go when we want to achieve a goal? There is so much information widely and freely available. We listen to podcasts, read books, watch webinars and attend live events. We spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on education that promises to get us to where we want to be in life.
This is the easiest way we can trick ourselves into thinking that we will make progress. But it’s not going to be enough to achieve your goals.
It takes action.
Action comes in the form of small daily habits that, with consistency, move us forward. It might be slow and you won’t see instant results, but you will move forward.
Why you aren’t living your dream life already
More information isn’t going to achieve our goals for us. But this isn’t the only factor that holds us back from success.
- Poor habits
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of focus and clarity
- A self-limiting mindset
These are all factors that work against us when we set, but don’t actually achieve, our goals. Remember, only around 8% of people that set goals actually go on to achieve them.
But that doesn’t have to be you.
How to actually achieve your goals
Proper goal setting and daily action is what will move you forward to success. You need a clearly defined goal, a reason this goal is important to you and a clear plan in place dictating exactly how you will achieve this goal.
Your 90-Day Stepping Stone Goals will meet all of these criteria. It is the goal that will get you closer to exactly where you want to be, and guide you along the journey to achieving the life you want.
A Stepping Stone Goal can be completed in 90 days and acts as a building block to achieving the life you want. It may take 10 years of setting many Stepping Stone Goals to get where you want to be, but each one is instrumental in your journey to get there.
You can live the life you dream of by defining your Big Vision dream, turning that dream into a clear long-range goal, and then break that big goal down into smaller steps to achieve along the way. Here’s what that will look like:
Once you have your path laid out, you can get started on your Sand Goals and step your way up to your 90-Day Stepping Stone Goals all the way up to your Cornerstone Goal.
If you haven’t made the progress you hoped to make in life so far, it’s likely because you haven’t clearly defined your big goals or set the smaller goals and habits necessary to make progress.
A goal too far into the future is just a wish. Smaller, short-term goals based off of your Cornerstone Goal will lead you to success.
- Use the form below to download the Goal Setting Workbook
- Using the workbook, define your Cornerstone Goal, Standing Stone Goal, and your Cairne Goals.
- Finally, use your Cairne Goals as a guide to define your short-term goals to accomplish this year, breaking them down into goals which can be achieved within 90 days. These are your Stepping Stone Goals.
- Once you have a clear Stepping Stone Goal, you can map out what you need to accomplish each week (your Pebble Goals) and what daily habits and tasks (Sand Goals) will support your progress.
- Find accountability and share your goals with the Stepping Stones to FI Facebook group at https://facebook.com/steppingstonestofi