“Everything starts with one step, or one brick, or one word or one day.” ~ Jeremy Gilley


Everything, even your biggest, boldest dreams start with one first step. And that small-step beginning is a great way to drive on-going goal success, especially if your goals scare you a bit. Here’s why. You won’t achieve any goal – big or small – if you don’t believe that you’re capable. It’s easier to lose belief in yourself over a big, scary goal, but if you break that big goal into smaller chunks, it will suddenly seem do-able. So, what’s on your success-radar? Take that goal and break it into manageable chunks. Then get to work. #YeahYouCan #DTFW

For the next couple of weeks I’m rebooting some video classics from 2013 that are all about finding goal-success. Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows, and if you’re interested in video 1 of this series you can watch it here.

Welcome back to episode number two of Dream Big Think Small, with me, Michelle Cederberg. The last time you saw me, I was delivering my message while I was playing in the mountains, and today, I’m thrilled to be shooting from our brand new studio. We’re talking about resolutions, and setting them is a big thing for a January plan. Oh, it’s so fantastic to step into a new year with change and growth and betterment on our mind. This year, I will finally quit smoking, lose the weight, find the love of my life, fix my finances this year. Then we step into the new year, and by the middle of January, 50% of us have abandoned all hope. By the end of March, statistically, about 88% of us are done. It seems that resolutions just don’t work, and then we spend the rest of the year going, “Well, that was fun?”

Well, here’s the truth: Your brain can’t handle New Year’s Resolutions! Why is that? Well, if you’re like most busy people, you’re making tens of thousands of decisions all day long. All of your work-related yes and nos, deciding what you want to have for lunch, tuning out all the advertisements from TV and websites, even that decision about whether to have the afternoon muffin or that second glass of wine are creating conditions in your brain that we’ll call willpower-burnout. The truth is, resolutions require massive amounts of willpower, and your brain just doesn’t have the capacity to get you to success. It’s not you. It’s neuroscience.

The part of your brain that controls willpower is located in the prefrontal cortex. That’s right behind your forehead. Wake up! That part of your brain is also responsible for helping you to stay focused, to solve abstract tasks, and for short-term memory. You know all those things on your to-do list? Busy, busy, busy.

According to ‘The Google’, people aren’t successful with their resolutions because their goals aren’t specific enough. B.J. Fogg, a PhD in social science at Stanford University, said that goals that are too abstract are near impossible for our busy brain to focus on, so the plan to lose weight fails before we even get out of the gates.

Now what? It’s almost February, and maybe things haven’t gone exactly as you’d hoped, but it’s not too late. Let’s just hit that reset button, and get this show back on the road. How do we do that? Well, I’ve got a four-step plan:

Number one, pick only one. Pick only one resolution. I know that you’ve got big plans for yourself and you want to do it all, but your brain can’t handle it. Find the most important goal for yourself, and start there. I know this is a hard one for us to embrace because we’re dreaming big, but remember, it’s dream big, think small. Pick one.

Number two, dream big, think small, act in small steps. I want you to take that massive mound of personal perfection and break it down into manageable mini mole hills. The way that we do that is to take our resolutions and break them into habits. If your resolution is to eat healthy food, the habit is a simple small step to, for instance, substitute your coffee break chocolate mocha and massive muffin for a low-fat latte and some fruit. One thing, one habit. If your resolution is to quit smoking, then the habit is to stop smoking that after-dinner cigarette. One thing, one habit. If your resolution is to exercise more, your habit is to walk 10 minutes on your coffee break or do 10 pushups the first thing out of bed in the morning. Oh, my gosh. Yes, progress may be slower, but you need to remember that one small step is better than a thousand big thoughts. Dream big, think small, act small. I know you can do this.

Number three on your plan for success is accountability. Hold yourself accountable for the changes that you want for yourself. Tell somebody else about it. Write it down. Hire a coach to help you along the way. Any time we can bring accountability into the mix, success will skyrocket. The reason why we don’t tell people is because then we get to fail in private, but why do you want to fail? Success is about putting it out there and making it happen. Hold yourself accountable.

Finally, number four, focus on each small success. Positive feedback, even the stuff you tell yourself, and I’m going to say especially the stuff you tell yourself, is going to be a big deal for continuing to make these small efforts. If you can say to yourself, “Yes, I did 10 pushups this morning!” that’s a lot different than saying, “Oh, my gosh. I suck. I only did 10 pushups.” You can hear the difference, can’t you? Every time you positively reward yourself with good words and feedback in that way, you’re going to try harder next time.

There you have it, resolution success in four steps. Pick only one resolution, dream big, but think small around it, be accountable, and of course, celebrate your successes along the way. Next week, I’ll be talking about a twist on those traditional boring smart goals. Wait until you hear what I have to say about that.

Before you go, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so that you don’t miss a single episode that I shares. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram for daily motivation, like and follow me on Facebook, and of course, you’re always welcome at michellecederberg.com to see what’s new.

This year is yours for the taking. Dare to live it big.

Michelle Cederberg, CSP, MKin, BA Psyc

Empowering today’s dreamers, leaders and go-getters to create the life and career they want.


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