How to Reach Your Goals

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, January 2019

It often surprises my clients when I explain that the best way to achieve big goals is to take small steps. Usually, they think in terms of making huge changes and moving to a new situation all at once. Then the mind locks on to all the different things that need to happen, they become overwhelmed, and do nothing.

The best way to attain a goal is to take consistent, small action steps over a reasonable period of time.

Aaron was frustrated that nearly 20 interviews had not produced a job offer. He wanted to conduct mock interviews right away. But I suggested that he tell me three questions that he was often asked. We focused on the main points he would make to respond, and then wrote out each answer.

One of his coaching assignments was to practice saying his responses out loud, using a conversational tone. A few weeks later, when we had worked through 15 questions, Aaron felt ready for mock interviewing. But rather than ask him all of the questions at once, I started with just four. The smaller steps made the process more manageable.

I also suggested that Aaron keep his practice periods brief. Short sessions on a frequent basis work better than one very long practice period. Aaron agreed to practice saying his responses for 20 minutes per day, Monday through Friday.

It was Tracy’s desire for perfection that got in the way of improving her time management skills. If a technique did not work perfectly the very first time she tried it, she declared it worthless. She lost the motivation to make changes.

“Perfect” is not an attainable standard. Mistakes are part of learning. I explained to Tracy that in order to master a new skill, she had to be willing to goof up.

Black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking creates a tendency to give up too quickly. I have had clients describe events that happened years ago as evidence that things cannot change today. Their thinking is what is getting in the way. If you do not believe that a situation can get better, you will have little impetus to try something different or to take action. Be willing to change your perspective and try a new approach.

Finally, set interim goals when you are working on a long-term goal. This strategy builds on the sense of accomplishment to sustain your motivation and increase your confidence. For example, an immediate goal would be accomplished in two weeks; a mid-term goal within two to three months; and a long-term goal in six months or more.

Copyright 2019, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching