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Why Incremental Steps Are The True Key To Hitting Your Goals

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If you’ve ever played with dominoes or have seen them, you know this: It takes a long time to set up the chain, at the precise distance from one another, and with much finesse, until you can finally have that ‘payoff’ moment where you knock over the first one and get to watch some, or all, of them fall.

When we set up this scenario, we know what we’re getting ourselves into. Yet, oftentimes, when we are working towards our goals, we expect the entire lineup to be ready, in perfect formation, and for each little rectangular figure to knock down the next and the next with ease in no time flat.

Why the discrepancy? And why is it so common to try to leap ahead past the quieter joys of setting up each piece, balancing, measuring, creating a system, and finding the peace, presence, and potential to savor that stage in favor of the seeming-grand finale?

I was recently brought back to a memory of starting my first business back in 2009. I’d been working behind-the-scenes ‘setting up my dominos’ and was ready for the first one to drop. 

My friend Michael Oki gave me that opportunity when he brought me in to do the payment processing (that company was/is a credit card processing brokerage) for his semi-pro soccer team. 

And that one opportunity, which wouldn’t have been possible without the time setting up the lineup of dominoes, created the momentum for another opportunity and another and another (until 13 years later, we had clients in 38 states).

What does this mean for you?

  • Focus on the stage where you are.
  • Appreciate that stage for exactly what it is and how it will set you up for the next one.
  • When you’re ready, look for that first (or next) domino, not the 2nd, 5th, 10th, or 100th down the line. Just the next. 

That’s how big progress is made. Through small, incremental steps.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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