3 steps to ratcheting your way to success

Even though I’m one of the less handy people on the planet, I do love ratchets. They make that neat clicky noise when you use them, and life is so much easier when you’ve got one handy to tighten or loosen something. What’s not to love?

Small action steps lead to big goals.But ratchets are also valuable for entrepreneurs: They’re a great reminder that success is just as sweet if you ratchet your way toward it in small steps as it is if you leap over tall buildings in a single bound to get there.

We live in a society where instant gratification has become fairly common. Google searches, MP3 downloads, receiving a white paper…all can frequently be accomplished in mere moments.

Unfortunately, business success typically doesn’t work that way; the vast majority of entrepreneurs are not going to be overnight sensations in their fields of expertise. That means you need to have the patience and persistence to keep on keeping on, as well as the wisdom to celebrate the often-overlooked triumphs you experience on the way to achieving the big goal.

So how do you get and stay motivated to ratchet your way to success? The following three steps will help.

Smart action steps + smart execution = delicious success.

Step 1: Get your head in the ratchet game.

This two-part step is easily said, less easily done.

The first part is getting clear on what you want to accomplish by reaching this big goal: not just what you’ll gain in a material sense, but how you’ll feel fabulous as a result of reaching it.

The second part involves learning to love the baby steps.

Yes, yes; I know. “Research online shopping carts” is not nearly as sexy as “launch new high-end product”…but you can’t do the latter without addressing the former. And that means the mundane task of research is absolutely an essential step to getting you to the point where you’re basking in the online orders streaming in.

Step 2: Figure out the what and the when of your small ratchet steps.

Stop thinking about the big honkin’ task facing you, and start thinking in terms of small action steps that will ultimately complete said task. And, since entrepreneurs often find their personal and professional lives woven together, note that this process of chunking down a potentially overwhelming task into smaller, less intimidating action steps works equally well in both arenas.

For example, one of my 2016 goals is to get back into archery (and, no, I did NOT develop my interest in it because of Katniss strutting her stuff in The Hunger Games; I purchased my equipment several years ago). But what does “get back into archery” really mean, and how do I do it, and why am I even bothering?

The “why” was fairly easy here: I enjoy the “thunk” of the arrows hitting the target, the feeling of strength when I draw the bow, and having an uncommon hobby.

As for what it means to “get back to archery”, I decided that I want to shoot two or more times per month and eventually get good enough to join a league for the fun, competition, and camaraderie.

And when it comes to actually making this happen, I realized there are any number of steps I can take to get to the point where I’m a proficient archer:

Each of these steps is a little one, but taken together, they’ll get me where I want to go. In fact, I’m attending a meeting tomorrow of a local archery club; membership will allow me to shoot all year round, essentially whenever I want, in indoor ranges – and all for a very modest investment. Woohoo! (Move on over, Katniss.)

Step 3: Evaluate and celebrate your progress.

Once you have your action steps identified and scheduled, you get to determine what signposts you’ll use to assure you’re making good progress toward your big goal. In other words, you want to keep tabs on yourself to ensure you’re actually doing the work. This is essential if you’re to avoid joining the ranks of deluded entrepreneurs who think (and act as if) scheduling a task is the same thing as completing that task.

As you clearly define what “progress” looks like, be especially attentive to those mini-milestones along the way. After all, if it looks like it will be two or three months before you can launch your high-dollar consulting package, you need to maintain your enthusiasm and focus so you stay the course.

As you work through your ratchet steps and reach those interim goals, be sure to acknowledge the progress you’re making! It’s pretty easy to build in little, inexpensive celebrations. On a bitterly cold day, a cup of hot, fresh-brewed coffee with real cream and a touch of sweetener can be a great mini-celebration after completing a step. (Yes, that’s definitely on my agenda when I finish writing this post.)

Ratcheting your way through all your check points, and assessing their effectiveness as you go, will make it almost inevitable that you reach your big goal.


Do these three steps make the big honkin’ goal seem more attainable? Woohoo! What’s the first ratchet step you’ll take after you finish reading this post?

Or do you have so many thoughts swirling in your head that you can’t even figure out what it is you really want to accomplish or how to accomplish it? If that’s the case, I know some tactics and strategies that will help.

I specialize in working with two types of entrepreneurs: the Overwhelmed and Paralyzed, and the Unfocused and Frenzied. Although the approaches differ, the end result is the same: clarity, confidence, accountability, and hitting the bull’s-eye.

Is this something I can do for you? Probably. Would it be in both our best interests? I can’t say – and neither can you unless we spend a bit of time asking and answering some questions.

The easiest way to do that is for you to grab a spot on my calendar for a no-charge, no-risk get-acquainted call. At the end of that call, I’m confident we’ll both know what the right answer is: yes, no, not now.

Are you brave enough to take the ratchet step of exploring this possibility? If so, I’m eager to hear from you.

(BTW, thanks to Jessica Paterson for posting the antique ratchet image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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