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2 – Choosing Where to Change your Life

by Jill

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do. —Elbert Hubbard

I struggled in my 20s. I saw my entire life in front of me along with every opportunity or direction. Where should I live? What should I do for a living? Do I get more school? Do I get married or have children? There were so many paths and so many directions. I couldn’t think about what to do next because I couldn’t figure out which direction to go. I didn’t even know how to decide. It was like the worse Choose Your Own Adventure book ever.

When we don’t pick goals or directions, decisions are made for us. At some points, some decisions are made, and other paths are closed off. But other doors open too.  It’s just how life is. So how do you decide now which goals and dreams you want to take on and make a reality?

One thing I learned over the years, is that the impossible really is possible. I know when I was in my 20s I didn’t think anything was possible. That I would be as happy as I am today. That I would have a job I would like as much as I do. It just seemed so far away. When I was in my 20s I had three jobs and the job market was bad and I was extremely poor. I could see my way to do anything I wanted to do in my life. I resigned myself to being poor and alone and not really have much going for me. I really needed to think how to change my life. So even when you are stuck in a place when you don’t have advantages in life, you still must go through small steps. You might have to go through more steps because you are starting in a place where you are disadvantaged. But the process is still the same. You just must go through and figure out what is the next thing you must do to do better and keep going through the process until you see yourself clear of it. As you start to achieve these things you start realizing that dreams are possible.

If I were to ask if you were to pick the one thing you could do to change your life what would that be.  What if a fairy godmother came down with a single wish, what would that be?

We can only do so much change at the same time. While we are talking about small changes, also think about limited changes. Some of the planners and books talk about having a few tasks for areas of life family, work, spiritual, physical. To make changes we must have enough time to do them and enough resources either financial or time.

So how do you decide what things you want to take on and make it a reality? We can only do so much at the same time. And when we are talking about small changes we are also thinking of limited changes. So, when we are deciding we have to think about the time and the resources, either financial or material. Do we have the umph to carry them out?

A good place to start is to decide on an area in your life that you want to work on. There are a few areas to consider. Where you live in terms of your location or your home, health, faith, purpose, fitness, financials, work, happiness or grit, community, friendships, hobbies, charity, learning something new, relationships, hobbies. There are quite a few areas we can tackle in our lives. The problem is they are not all equal and there are some areas that just demand our attention all the time. We can’t give up on our family because this isn’t the year we aren’t involved with our family. We can give up on our job because we are not focused on this aspect this year. They all come at us and we must make them a part of our lives. Truthfully even if we pick areas to work on, we cannot always guarantee we can follow that plan. Maybe when we thought our job was stable and needed no immediate care or your family was quite stable but then suddenly someone needs some more focused attention. Sometimes we must go after something else because it became more important. Sometimes we even make bad decisions when it comes to our lives. We dated bad people and had bad jobs. But despite the fact we are bad at picking our priorities, we are still the biggest experts in the world on what is good for us.

Questions to Ask Ourselves

If we step outside and treat ourselves like we are own friend, it helps us look at the big picture. If we pretended we were watching our lives as a movie, what would you scream at the screen? “Just go do______ already!!!” I spent a summer abroad in college and came back with an entirely new perspective. It really changed my life! Travel can help too. But to get at the core of what is most important for us to tackle starts with asking yourself great questions. Dig deep and listen to your answers.

  • If I were to ask you what would make your life amazing, astounding, and happy what would it be?
  • When you pray at night what do you pray for? Do you even pray for yourself?
  • What do you want your life to look like in 5 or 10 years?
  • What areas of your life would benefit most with attention?
  • What area of your life scares you the most when you think about your future?
  • If you asked those closest to you were to tell you the thing that would best improve your life, what would they say?
  • What do you love?
  • What did you dream of as a child?
  • If you acted as your own best friend, what advice would you give yourself.
  • What is the most important problem do you need to solve right now?
  • If you gave a thank you speech in 20 years what would you be thankful for?
  • If you could have all the money and time you needed, what would you do?
  • What would make you happier if you could achieve it?
  • What could stop your happiness if it happened?
  • What makes you cry?
  • What makes you angry?

My best friend and I have a lot of things we are opposite on and this area is one of them. She thrives when she aspires to a goal or a vision of future gain. I thrive better out of fear of a bad alternative. I often say to myself “So you want to go into retirement without a penny? And so overweight you can’t have adventures?? Well you better go do something about that!” It might be the voice of people in our lives when we were younger but either way you must find out which question means the most to you.

When considering your future goals, you must consider current circumstances. What kind of goal do you have time to tackle? Do you have the money to do this thing now? Maybe circumstances require a particular focus right now. Maybe something has your attention and energy right now. There is nothing like having focus and joy and attention to a goal to help you make it happen.

I wanted to do a podcast for a while as I said before. Because of current circumstances I have the time now. I have the interest now after being invited to create segments on another podcast and found I loved it. But all things came together to create a podcast that I have now. If I had goals to travel the world, perhaps now would not be the best times.

Now that you picked a focus, you must figure out how many goals to choose. We will look at a few ideas on picking goals now that maybe you have a general topic.

Somethings to keep in mind is we all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days. We have obligations and hobbies. But what will happen while walking towards your goal you might change your mind. If you are new at goal setting start small.  Build trust in yourself and as you get some goals done you will see what you are capable of. Then you might be able to take slightly bigger steps. But in general, keep it small. IT is hard when you are new at goals and you aren’t sure if you will succeed at that you dream of doing.

Focus Planner

FULL FOCUS PLANNER: Unboxing/Flip-Through - YouTube

The focus planner is part of Michael Hyatt’s planning tools. It is really geared towards high performance checklists and goals with plenty of reflecting on what went right and wrong in that time period. They split goals into two kind: achievement goals and habits goals. Achievement goals are something that has a set goal like to pay off house or go on a big vacation. Habit goals would be more like daily like have two servings of vegetables or take a walk after work. Then they have people pick 7-10 annual goals. They think anymore might get overwhelming. 

They mention that according to one study by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University indicates that there is a 40% bigger likelihood of achieving a goal if you write it down. Their planner is built around gathering and measuring these goals with records of the reasons and the goals and sub-goals and habit tracking. Planners like this are great for some people. They love the plans and the check-boxes. Some people love the paper format and others digital. Some others, like me, can’t deal with planners in their personal lives while do fine with them at work. https://fullfocusplanner.com and https://focusonthispodcast.com to see more.

The ONE Thing

Then there is The ONE Thing and it’s a planner and a system which starts from a book and podcast by Gary Keller. His ONE Thing is to get the reader and listener to pick ONE THING.  Really focus on that by planning it out, blocking off time and doing it. He gives us data that a habit takes 66 days to form or a plan to stick. Stickiness is what we want because we don’t want to fall easily back to our old ways or fall away from our goals.

“What’s the ONE thing I can do right now, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” He suggests doing this every day.

He has a plan called the 4-1-1 plan. The first step is to set a long-term goal, maybe look five years into the future too. Then set year goals based on this look at the future you. Then break those goals into monthly goals and then derive weekly goals from there. From here you block off time for work on your new goals and start writing specific actionable tasks. In that sense it is very much like the Focus Planner. On a podcast I heard him talk about seeking those items that would make the biggest impact on the year, month, or week. Then it comes to today “if I were to achieve this action, my life, my goal would be so much better.”

He more recently developed the 66-day plan. The goal is to pick one thing and work on it for 66 days until you nailed it. Maybe you repeat this 66-day plan until it takes you to where it is effortless. He takes these small steps and really does the heck out of them until they are set. For me who is not that into planners, at least not in my personal life, this seems much more appealing. He warns not to make this a to do list. The activities must fit int the ultimate goals and not just be something to check off. To find out more about this kind of plan https://www.the1thing.com/blog/the-one-thing/66-day-challenge-tip-1-set-bigger-goals-focus-on-smaller-habits/

In his book, he frames for the plan is a Someday Goal > a One-Year Goal > Monthly Goal > Weekly Goal-Daily Goal and the Right Now Goal. They all work together and are sub-groups of the Someday Goal. This sets up what he considers to be dominoes that fall right into success. As the small tasks and goals are accomplished, the bigger dominoes fall. He insists that you block time for this ONE THING.  Once it is done, the rest of life can continue as well as other goals and tasks you have. He says you should live with purpose and visualize your goals. You should never compromise on the ONE THING even in the face of work. He says we must pursue these dominoes “ruthlessly?

I have not used his plans for my personal life. I have used it for customer projects at work. I do go into work and every Month ask myself what the one thing is I need to do to make this a good month. I do the same for the week. Every day I ask myself what the one thing is I must do today to make it a great day and help my customer succeed. It isn’t the intent of the planning system, but it really helps me focus.

He has a nice goal planning guide here which you can find in my show notes on my website: https://www.the1thing.com/thank-you/?resource=3917. It’s long but it fully lays out his plan.

So, you can see the idea is to pick a goal or a few goals but not too many. Make tasks that directly fall in line with your main goals. As the small steps come together they are pointing towards a successful end of a goal. But what is too much? When do we know we are planning too many things? In my opinion one is too few. It’s a luxury most of us can’t afford. But the Focus Planner suggests too many. To win at achieving our goals we need enough energy, money and time and resources. This will vary based on what is going on in your life already. Each of us will have to decide what our bandwidth on fully dedicated goals without excuse.

Alice in Wonderland

 “Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.

The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

Alice in Wonderland - Cheshire Cat Quote - Where Should I go? - 0118"  Greeting Card by ContrastStudios | Redbubble

Alice in wonderland looks to be tale of a girl growing up. She daydreams and cannot pay attention. She even falls into the hole and not goes in with intent. She has no direction and no aim. She admits she believes anything. She is curious about everything and has no direction or goal. She is confused by the weird world around her and investigates everything she sees. She meets an elderly caterpillar who has some good advice but is comfortable where he is and not going anywhere. He is perfectly happy smoking and relaxing. A Cheshire Cat who is confusing and only aims to confuse others. He is comforting but his advice is useless. When the cat asks her who she is she says, “I hardly know”. The White Rabbits busy all the time and perpetually late. He is frustrating and frustrated. The Mad Hatter was insane. He is stuck in a party that never ends. The Queen of Heart was bossing everyone making her priorities everyone else’s problems. She doesn’t care at all about what other people need or must do. By the end she grows up in size and determination and returns home. You can look at story as a girl growing from a child to an adult.

According to editors Charles Frey and John Griffin, “Alice is engaged in a romance quest for her own identity and growth, for some understanding of logic, rules, the games people play, authority, time, and death.” When you approach the book with this idea in mind, it offers interesting and meaningful interpretations of the events and characters in the story.

This is what we must do. Throw away the confusion and uselessness. Get rid of being stuck in contentment. Throw off our priorities driving us mad and burning us out and all the priorities everyone is putting on us. Lastly throwing off the bossy other people who make lives more important than you own.


  1. Dream big about your life. Look at main areas in your life and figure out where you would like to see change or need some work or have big goals.
  2. Ask some hard questions of yourself so you know what you are really looking for in life. Reset your frame in terms of a tv show or you talking to yourself as your best friend. What advice would you give yourself?  As those though questions and get the good answers.
  3. Look at a few big goals you would like to achieve in life or in the next five years. Start to create a list of the things you want to tackle.
  4. Determine how many goals you would like to have.


  1. Dream big about your life. Look at areas in your life you would like to see progress or attained goals.
  2. Look at a few big goals you would like to achieve in life or in the next five years.
  3. Pick a good number of goals that you are think are attainable with the resources you have right now.
  4. Ask yourself every day “What’s the ONE thing I can do right now, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Fun Advice

Ferris Bueller says “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. “

So, what do you think of this advice? I think it sums up a lot of this podcast. Life does come at us pretty fast and gets even faster as we go. Stop! Look around! Then ruthlessly prioritize. Not sure that is what Ferris meant but let’s go with it.

Please let me know what you thought of this episode and your looking carefully at your life and goals and paring them down. Check out the Slack channel and the website at smallstepspod.com. Please subscribe, leave a review, and tell a friend. SFR Subscribe! Review! Friend! Thank you and have a great week!

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