Stepping Stone Goals


Photo by Steven Hylands

Everyone knows they should set goals. We are told this by our bosses, mentors, coaches, the gurus on youtube, and our families.  

SMART goals are the standard. Maybe you have heard of them.  

According to the SMART goal principles, your goals should be:

specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.  

I ran a goal-setting group when I worked as an RN. I probably ran it about 350 times. I worked with 10-15 people at a time. It was my favorite group to run, mainly because I took the material and adjusted them over time and made the group my own. 

The group I ran was successful because I had the group members set several goals that lead to their primary goal. These stepping stone goals started that same day. 

The process I used was simple.  

  1. Set your primary SMART goal.
  2. List all the things(Steps) you need to do with your time to get to that goal
  3. Pick one of those things to start today.  
  4. Set a goal for that one thing. 
  5. When that step goal is complete, you are ready to move on to the next.
  6. Do this with all of your steps.      

Here is an example.

SMART goal: I want to be going to the XYZ gym three times a week by February 4th, 2020.

Stepping stone goals:

  1. Set a weekly schedule for next week today. Put gym time on my calendar. This is an appointment. Like a job interview. I don’t miss job interviews.    
  2. One gym visit this on Friday at 3:30 pm. I will leave work at 3:00 pm. I will pack my gym clothes and put the bag in my car Thursday night. 
  3. Two gym visits next week on Tuesday at 3:30 pm and Thursday at 3:30 pm.  
  4. Three gym visits per week starting January 20th. I will attend Tuesday and Thursdays at 3:30 pm, and Friday at 9:00 am. I will put these days in my calendar as appointments. I don’t miss appointments. 
  5. If I miss a day due to illness, I will restart the appointments as soon as I am well. Missing a day does not cancel out the goal.  

The specifics are different for everyone. When I work one on one with someone, we will dive deeper into the individual issues and life choices that affect the goals.  

By adding the stepping stone goals, I found that success was much more likely for the majority of people. 

Give this a try! Let me know how it goes!  

Joshua J Grenell