5 Practical Steps to Getting Better at Anything

set goals, take action, and make progress
Over the past year, I’ve been working hard to improve several areas of my life. I wanted my business to be more successful, I wanted to be stronger and faster, I wanted to be more organized. All goals that I share with a lot of you, I’m sure.

Now, thanks to some hard work a simple 5 step process that I came up with, I’ve made some substantial improvement. I’ve lost 40lbs and put on a lot of muscle. My business has tripled its revenue. And, I’ve organized the majority of my life.

After following these 5 steps for almost a year, I decided it would be a great time to share them with other people. Hopefully, you’ll find them as useful and productive as I have.

  1. Where are you now?

    The first step to making any improvement is to take a very honest and candid look at where you stand. Think about whatever subject you’d like to get better at, and do your best to describe how you’re doing now. Write it down on a piece of paper, and be as specific as you can.
  2. Where do you want to be?

    Now, write out a paragraph about where you want to be in that area. Do you want to increase your revenues? Spend less time working? Loose 50lbs? Ignore time constraints, money constraints, and anything else you think might interfere. Describe in detail the result that you would want if you knew could do anything. And again, be very specific.
  3. What do you need to do to get there?

    You now have a point A (where you are now) and a point B(where you want to be). The next step is to see if you can find a path from A to B. With a lot of things it’s obvious what you need to do to get better. If you want to loose weight, you probably have to exercise more. If you want to grow your business, you have to work hard and market yourself. If you want to get better at a sport, then you need to practice. Think hard about what you need to do, and write it down very specifically.
  4. Take a step towards your goal, daily.

    This is the action part. You need to come up with a small and incremental step towards your goal that you can complete daily. Look at the path you’ve got to take to get from point A to point B, and see if you can find a small task or action that will help you get there. If it’s a business goal, you might want to contact three more people every day. If it’s a health related goal, you’re action might be exercising every day. Promise yourself you’ll take whatever action you decide on and complete it regularly, no matter what. Don’t make it too hard—you want to take one step not 10.
  5. Check your progress, then repeat the 5 steps.

    After a few weeks, maybe a month, take stock of your new position and begin the process anew. See how far you’ve gone, think about how well you’ve kept up with your daily action, etc… Use this information to make your next round even more effective. Also, don’t forget to congratulate yourself on doing a good job.

The only crucial ingredient that’s not included as one of the steps is hard work. If you really want to get better at something, it’s going to take some time and some effort. But don’t get too serious about it, have some fun! Enjoy taking each easy step towards your goal, and savor the difficult ones. Before long, you’ll really start to see some progress.

Watch out for these traps

There are only a few things that can actually hold you back and prevent you from getting where you want to go. And, you actually control all of them. Here’s what might get in your way:

- Giving up
- Avoiding the issues altogether
- Making progress and then slipping back to where you started
- Lying to yourself

Follow the 5 different steps, and watch out for the common pitfalls. You’ll notice that you’ll feel better immediately; and you’ll probably start seeing progress in a few weeks. Keep at it for months (or years) and you’ll get to your target, no matter where it might be.

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Reader Comments

Aug. 10. 2007 5:03 PM
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I like how you’ve laid it all out into just 5 steps. It’s a nice way of simplifying a complex prodedure.

What about time constraints? Would you normally set dates with your personal goals?

PS - Congratulations on your own success! Well done.


Aug. 13. 2007 3:50 AM
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Hi Mike,

It certainly is a simplified version of the very complex “getting better at something.” I really think that with things like this it can be far too much to handle if it isn’t simplified. And, I mean that from an action standpoint, not understanding.

Personally, I only set time constraints if I have to. The idea is to continually make incremental progress. If I can keep taking the next step, I’ll eventually get somewhere. That beings said, some things are better with (or require) time constraints.

Thanks for your comment!

- Mason


Dec. 28. 2011 3:53 AM
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One of the most important steps that many would overlook is the self reflection. No matter how much you plan and make progress religiously, you would be unable to chart your own progress or make useful changes if no self reflection is made. Reflect upon one’s own progress and than move along.


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Feb. 27. 2014 1:40 PM
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This is a great summary of how everything should go in anyone’s life.i was having a pretty bad day so far, but thanks to your article everything seems so simple now!


Apr. 16. 2014 1:30 PM
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Taking a daily step (even the smallest one) is so important for achieving your goal because it keeps your goal in front of you and closer every day, plus it teaches you discipline and persistance when it comes to career and business


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