Career Bytes step up

Published on February 28th, 2012 | by Coach Liz


Success planning part 2: stepping it up

Life can be slippery. Ask Shane. He’s a skilled bass player who wants to leave his day job for good and have a financially, self-sufficient music career.

During our first coaching session, I asked Shane what his plan was for making this goal a reality.  He said, “I want to move closer to the city, start gigging with my friends band, redo my website, cut another demo and work on my image, you know…get in shape.” He added, “Nobody wants to see a fat Elvis” and laughed! We started exploring priorities and timeframes when Shane realized out loud, “No wonder I’ve been stuck! These are huge changes and I only have so much time and energy. The truth is, I’ve been picking away at all of these steps, but haven’t hit stride with any of them yet.”

Remember, if your plan isn’t S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely, you will get frustrated. You’ve heard it before; the devil is in the details. When life happens on top of your efforts to change, you can get derailed. That’s what happened with Shane. The company he was working for started downsizing, and Shane panicked (quite possibly, a blessing in disguise). He was suddenly very motivated to make things happen. The challenge became what to focus on first, and how to do it wisely. So we moved onto the creation of stepping stones. Shane had worked through the first step of the three-step success planning strategy, Clarify Your Goal. He was now ready for step 2.

Step 2: Actualize your goal

Once your goal is clearly defined it’s time to actualize it! The use of stepping stones is a sure-fire method for successfully breathing life into it. Stepping stones are an individual action, event, or task that must be completed before the next action, event, or task can begin. Achieving a goal may require taking many steps, or a few. What’s crucial is the connectivity of the steps – how smoothly one leads to the other – not the number of steps it takes to reach a goal. At first glance, a stepping stone may appear huge and as a result, you may get overwhelmed. Dissecting that stone usually reveals a cluster of steps that will help you accomplish your goal by seeing it more clearly.

Identify next steps

First things first. Identify each step associated with your goal. Shane decided that his first step involved gigging with the band. He wanted to capitalize on the resources the band could offer; equipment, gigs and increased exposure. He explained, “The first thing I’ll do is call my friend, the band leader, and see if I can sit in on rehearsal. I’ll have them play some of my songs with me. If we like each other’s style, I’ll get a feel for the kind of agreement we want to develop.”

What is the timeframe?

Create a timeframe for the accomplishment of your stepping stones. A stepping stone is nothing without a detailed destination plan. Even if it’s a small step, it needs to have an identity, a direction and be time limited.

Bonus tip – Stop and Start

If you’ve identified a goal and feel stuck about what stepping stones to take, try the Stop and Start activity. This is something you can do, anytime, with any issue. It provides clarity, and goes like this.

Get a pencil and some paper. That’s right. stop reading, get something to write with and roll with us here! Now, write down one goal you’d like to accomplish but have been struggling with.

Now, list three things you need to stop doing and three things you need to start doing in order to achieve your mission. There can be no building on top of an old one. With that in mind, you will need to move some things out of the way before you can begin a new action. As you think about that, you’ll realize that the stopping can be just as, or more important than the starting. Don’t cheat yourself. List three of each. It can be a challenge, but you can do it, and you are worth it. I’ll meet you here next time to explore the third, and final portion of the three-step success planning strategy.

Haven’t read the first post? You need to! Success planning part 1: New Year’s resolution gone wrong

OR…move on to Success planning part 3: Master your goal


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About the Author

Liz Merriweather is the co-founder and lead coach at Artist Development Coaching, a company devoted to furthering the lives and careers of artists via the miracles of life and career planning. She brings over 24 years experience to the table as a therapist in private practice and as a life coach specializing in helping people achieve clarity. You can connect with Coach Liz at

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