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Next Steps: The Tipping Point Towards Progress

Published 17 Jan 2015 | Category: Theory
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily towards your goal. – Bruce Lee

When it comes to ambitious life goals, one of the single most important factors in determining whether you'll make progress or not, is how well defined your next step is - the step which you've prioritised towards the top of your list, as the first task you intend to tackle.

Choosing an appropriate next step is primarily about finding the right balance. It needs to be important - preferably the single most important thing that's currently holding you back from getting closer to your goal. If you don't think carefully about this, you could end up falling victim to busywork - even if you are getting lots of tasks done, which have some relation to your goal, unless you take a step back to review the big picture, there's no guarantee they're having a significant impact towards your progress.

On the other hand, they should also be simple enough to be actionable. If you've ended up with a first step which is a huge challenge in itself, it can often lead to procrastination, as the lack of certainty about how to tackle the task turns into an urge to put it off. Any step which is so big and vague that it can't be completed with a few hours of concentrated effort, would likely be better as a sub-goal, where it can be broken down further.

The above isn't to say that it's only the next step that matters - breaking down a large goal into a plan of action is also a highly useful process. But when it comes to making significant progress towards goals, breaking through plateaus, and identifying blockers, picking a good next step to tackle is crucial.

To make this process easier, we've introduced a new supplementary tool to Nach called the Next Step Revealer, which can be found at

The page lists all of your top-level goals, and pulls out only the current next step. We'd recommend opening this up side by side with your Goal Map, so that it can be used as a reference while reorganising your goals. This view cuts away all distraction of future plans, so you're able to clearly consider whether your next steps are sufficiently important and actionable. You may find it helpful to carry out this process regularly - perhaps by setting up reviewing your next steps as a weekly repeeating step.

You can also consider whether you're giving these vital steps the attention they deserve, or whether you've allowed yourself to get distracted by tasks of lower priority and importance. Taking time out at the beginning of each day to complete just one important next step is enough to ensure you'll be consistently making real progress.

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