Make little steps forward


To make a change, you need to break a big job into lots of smaller ones. Take writers as an example. Their biggest obstacle is the thought that the book will take too long. They see the workload stretching out in front of them, with no end in sight. The laborious research, the hundreds of thousands of words, and the hunt for a publisher. And that’s why so many would-be authors never get started. They don’t have a process. ‘The journey of a thousand miles starts with the smallest step,’ says the old Chinese proverb. If you think about the scale of the changes you’re seeking, it’s easy to get disheartened. How can you get from here to there, you ask? The answer is to take it one step at a time.

Baby steps are not only OK but sensible.

Elsewhere on this site and in my book I talk about the need to have a list, and to break it into headings. And break those into sub-tasks. Or to use an old saying, ‘By the inch it’s a cinch. By the yard it’s hard’. You need a list of jobs, broken down into smaller sections. And then do each step. They don’t even have to be sequential. If you saw my Get Up and Go book over the months I was writing it, you’d have seen batches of 500-word articles, many in random order and which gradually came together into a logical sequence. In short, you just have to complete a step, and move on to the next one. And the first step is the most important. Have you created a list of jobs? If not, do it now. Put it down in any form you want, as long as it works for you. You can always change the types of list, and how it’s structured. But do that first step now. Feel free to start small. Want to be self-employed? Start with a side gig. Looking for a partner? Get a list of local events. Thinking of writing a novel? Start with a short story.  

Practise in a small way

Want to go rowing? If you join the UK’s Amateur Rowing Association they will get you to capsize – but in a shallow safe area, where you can’t drown. There’s a message here for all of us. Taking baby steps will help you get used to your future life. If you need to cook for a dinner party, do the dish for just you and your partner. If it tastes wrong, it won’t matter.  

Now write down some small steps you could take to achieve your goal.

You can download an editable version here: Taking those all-important little steps  

My initial small steps  


Want to know more?

These ideas are taken from my forthcoming book, Get Up and Go.

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Would you love you achieve much more in life? Are you somehow held back? Do you never quite get started? It may be due to self-sabotage. And you might not even recognise it. The brain sometimes offers us convenient reasons why we haven’t done something. It’s clever that way. Perhaps you’d like to get promotion in your job? Or find a new partner? Or go travelling? But you never quite get around to it. There are reasons for that. You may have low self-esteem. You think you’re not sufficiently skilled, or that others are better than you. Maybe people have told you that and you’ve accepted that. There’s a voice that says ‘This isn’t what you do.’ Some of us say to ourselves ‘You’re a disorganised person’. It can cause you to set yourself low goals, things that are easy to achieve. You get up in the morning, and do your daily, routine tasks. But you don’t get around to doing any ‘big picture’ activity.  


Start by recognising the emotions that cause self-sabotage. They’re the feelings of inferiority, of not being good enough. Notice when you avoid taking steps that would lead to a big change in your life. Spot when you say ‘No’ to an opportunity. Watch out for times when you hear someone talking, and you think ‘I could do that. I could do it better’. But then you don’t act on it. It just lies there as an unfulfilled dream. Accept that taking big steps are difficult. They cause us anxiety. We feel nervous.  


Say Yes to opportunities. If someone offers you a bigger role or some responsibility, say ‘Yes’. Write down the specific steps needed to achieve the change that’s on your mind. Keep them somewhere you will see them. Start with very small steps. They will build your confidence. At the top of a small hill you will be able to see the next one. It won’t seem so far away. Identify your strengths. Write down the things you have achieved, or the ways we have helped someone else to achieve something. Have a mantra or affirmation you can repeat to yourself. Here are some examples: – I can do this. – I have the skills to do that job. – No more hesitation.  

Want to know more?

These ideas are taken from my forthcoming book, Get Up and Go.

If you’d like a free, no-obligation chat, click the button below. It takes you to our phone call booking system.

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Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

Luck doesn’t come into it


You Don’t Need Luck, Just Pluck

Some people think they’re dogged by bad luck, while others think they’re lucky. Truth is, neither is right. And here’s why. In an experiment done by Richard Wiseman in The Luck Factor, he discovered that people who considered themselves lucky hadn’t noticed the steps they’d taken to succeed. One woman talked about how she ‘just happened’ to find a partner one evening, ‘quite by accident’. But she omitted to say that she regularly went out to social events and mixed with people. Others, who stayed at home and watched TV, thought they were ‘unlucky’ because good things didn’t happen to them.

The lesson here is that we make our own luck.

‘Bad luck’ can sometimes happen because we’ve made bad choices, something we discuss in ‘How to make better choices’. If you haven’t been successful in the things you have tried, you may not have failed enough times. What I mean is, most things fail. You have to try a great many in order to succeed. Whether it’s finding a partner, setting up a new business venture or applying for jobs, you have to meet enough people, try enough business ideas, or apply for enough jobs. And you have to do each of them right. If you put off prospective partners by your attitude, you won’t succeed. Some people give off negative vibes. They may be tense, nervous, or stand-offish. They may have defensive body language, be involved with their phone, or seem bored. Are you applying for a job, and getting nowhere? That could be for many reasons. If you get interviews, that’s a good sign, so you don’t have anything to worry about. Just keep persevering. If you aren’t being invited to an interview, it’s time to review what you’re doing. We discuss that further in the book. As for new business ventures, I’ve had more failures than most people have had hot dinners. And I’m still looking and trying things. Because you only need one idea to work, and it’ll support you for a long time. Many of my ideas just don’t capture other people’s imagination. It’s a shame. I think they’re wrong. But there’s nothing I can do about it.  

Now do the ‘Luck not Pluck’ Worksheet below:

You can download an editable version here: Pluck not Luck Worksheet   Pluck not Luck Worksheet   This is an extract from my forthcoming book, Get Up and Go.

If you’d like a free, no-obligation chat, click the button below. It takes you to our phone call booking system.

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False Friends or Actual Allies?

Falkse Friends
False friends often look welcoming

We’re surrounded by false friends. They masquerade as merry mates. But all too often it’s a wily corporation or an organisation that wants something off you. The same even applies to some people. Hence, excluding your family and friends, much of what passes for fun has a cost attached to it. The brands know how to manipulate you into buying stuff that you either don’t need, or isn’t good for you. I know. I’ve worked for two of Britain’s top advertising agencies. We’ve devoted our lives to getting you to open your purse. And we’re good at it. Ad agencies will show you happy families, shiny cars, and the promise of optimal health. We have jingles. We conduct research to understand your neuroses. We hire celebrities to front our products, and we put our logos on athletes. Nowadays I’m a reformed character. And knowing what I do, I want to help you think about your lifestyle. Feel free to buy whatever you want. But be aware that someone, somewhere, is rubbing their hands together, knowing that you’ve bought into the dream they’ve created. And if they’re not selling you something, they probably have some other motive. Their need is rarely the same as yours. The main false friends are: 1. TV 2. Social media 3. Gambling and the lottery 4. People who want you to buy into their misguided and unscientific beliefs such as manifesting 5. Companies that want you to buy their stuff These are your false friends. You may think they’re friendly and fun. But all too often they’re out to snare you. You can probably think of some organisations that are not like that. I can, too. They include some of the non-profit organisations; food banks, for example.  

Action points

When an organisation wants something off you, whether it’s time or money, ask yourself these questions: – How does this benefit them? What do they get out of it? – If I agree to their offer, what do I lose? Independence? Time? Money? – What else could I do with that time or money? To achieve a big change you have to be strong. Avoid the lures of those who suck you into their orbit and get in the way of your goal.  

Want to know more?

These ideas are taken from my forthcoming book, Get Up and Go.

If you’d like a free, no-obligation chat, click the button below. It takes you to our phone call booking system.

Talk to us in confidence


Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

Take the quiz

What’s the One Big Change you need to make in your life?

Are you looking to make a big change in your life? Not sure how to proceed?
Take the One Big Change quiz to find out how.
This quiz is still in beta. We'd love your feedback on it. You'll be able to comment at the end.


Page 1 of 5

1. I’m ready for a bigger job.
2. I prefer the security of a job to self-employment.
3. I’m just too busy
4. I should spend more time looking for a partner.
5. I have unfinished business with my siblings/parents


Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

Would an Accountability Partner help you?


Accountability coach
Could an accountability coach help you achieve your goal faster?


What is an Accountability Partner? And how useful are they? The Pros and Cons

The one thing that makes a real difference to achieving change is having someone to hold you accountable. It could be a friend, your partner, or a coach.

Once you tell someone you’re embarked on a project, you’re committed to it. You’ve gone public. Your own self-respect will urge you to complete the task. Otherwise, when your friend enquires, ‘How’s that project doing?’, you’d have to admit you’ve given up or delayed it.

Accountability partners vary in their usefulness and competence. Ideally you need someone who is objective, and doesn’t push their own agenda. They need to respect your independence and not make you take steps that don’t match who you are.

They need to be regularly in touch, at least monthly, and be committed to helping you achieve change.

If you’re unsure of your direction, need advice or just want a shoulder to cry on, an accountability coach will be the person you can turn to. It means you won’t make the journey alone. You’ll always have someone you can turn to when in need.

In short, if you want to achieve change, an accountability partner makes it easier.

At Get Up and Go we have professional accountability coaches who are trained in helping people achieving their goal. If you’d like a free phone or zoom conversation with one of them, let us know. We seek to pair you with someone who shares the same experiences and goals as you, and is also a professional accountability coach. Even if you decide not to use them you’ll come away with ideas and systems for making a big change in your life.

For a free informal discussion with one of our coaches, complete this form:

Accountability Coaching Enquiry




What kind of change are you hoping to make?






Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

6 Ways to Deal with Disaster

Crises are different from voluntary change, because they’re imposed on you. They’re an enforced change, as we saw earlier.

There’s a Yiddish saying: ‘The gods laugh while men make plans’.

So while enforced change is never part of your plan, you have to deal with it when it  happens. Let’s see what you need to do.

When a crisis arises, some advice sites suggest you mediate, do breathing exercises, take exercise, go for a walk, carry out some visualisation, or do some creative writing. The trouble is, that’s not going to tackle the problem, only reduce the stress. If your house is on fire, meditation won’t put the flames out.

This book is dedicated to Agency – taking action. So when crisis happens, we have to act.

First, let’s not call it a catastrophe. Let’s see it as ‘just one more problem to deal with’. I know that’s easy to say. But it’s true: there is always a solution to any problem.

Let’s assume you’re the best person to deal with this, that you can’t delegate it.

If so, you’ll have to deal with the problem fast. Don’t put it off. Do it now. There’s a saying: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Decide what your options are.

A family member has a health emergency? Call an ambulance.

Lost your job? Dust off your CV. Start job hunting. Do it methodically. Talk to people who might help: many jobs aren’t advertised, and someone who works in a nearby or similar business may help you get recruited. 

A financial problem? Phone the company you owe money to. Set up a payment plan. Companies love to know you are dealing with the problem. It will go on their records that you are in touch with them.

Health issue? Get medical advice. Avoid the quacks.

Car broken down? Do you have breakdown insurance? Can you call a friend. Can you get towed?

House problem? Water pouring in? – find the stopcock. Lights gone out? – check the consumer unit (the fuse board). House on fire? – if it’s a big one, evacuate the house. If it’s a small one, deal with it. Use a fire extinguisher or smother the flames.

Let’s say a key employee has decided to leave the business, due to personal issues. She has specific knowledge that the rest of the team, doesn’t. This will leave a huge gap in the way the business operates. The steps you need to take are: Be grateful to her for her work. See if you can help her with any personal issues. Get her to put on paper the most important aspects of her work. Ask her to help train a new recruit. Decide on the job specification. Start the recruitment process.

Interestingly, this happened to me. I called the employee, who lived 8,000 miles away. It turned out she was concerned about her country’s new tax arrangements. She was worried it would put her into a higher tax bracket and make her job unviable.  After some discussions she decided to stay on. Problem solved.

6 ways to deal with an emergency

  1. Stay calm. Getting upset or frantic won’t help. Your mind will be whirling with fears and a feeling of helplessness. You can feel overwhelmed.  Now is the time for a steady head.
  2. Focus on solutions. Get a plan of action. What steps do you need to take to fix the problem?
  3. Get help. Discuss the problem with someone else. Two heads are always better than one. But be aware that some people can get emotional.
  4. Learn the lessons. What can you learn from this episode? What caused the problem, and how can you minimise it if it happens again?
  5. Put a new process in place. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
  6. Don’t catastrophise. Weeping and shouting won’t resolve the issue. Until you face the problem, it will hand around, causing you pain. Fixing the problem will give you the relief you need.  

Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

How to Deal with Doubt

Doubt is a big trap for those who want to create change. It comes from a lack of self confidence, and the feeling that we aren’t competent or experienced enough to make the change. We aren’t the sort of people who do this.

We all know or have seen people who are more accomplished than we are. If you want promotion, you’ll know others who are more experienced than you.

  • If you want to date someone, you’ll see others who converse with that person, and who are better  looking or more suave than you.
  • If you want to set up a business, you’ll know how little you know about its practicalities.
  • And if you want to break away from someone or something, you’ll doubt your ability to survive without their support.

All of this can lead to a paralysis.

Some of us who want to be self-employed seek a work partner. I’ve seen that frequently. They want to share the burden, and get someone to be a path finder. They want someone who will be more self-confident than they are. In my experience it’s a limiting route, for various reasons. Let’s say you want to open a restaurant, and you partner with someone. Chances are that in a year’s time, you’ll be falling out with them because they have a different outlook.

Sticking with commercial ventures, many people want to become a franchisee. They know that the franchisor, the business that will sell you the franchise, will look after you and show you how to do it. All of which is true, but there’s a downside. A year after you’ve set up the business, and done all the hard work, you get ‘franchise regret’. You discover that the franchisor doesn’t do much to help you, that you could have discovered the operating procedures yourself and, worst of all, you’re committed to paying the franchise a hefty amount of money in perpetuity.

But at least such people have made the change. Many of us never get that far. And yet ask anyone who made a big change and they will say, ‘I should have done it years ago.’

People rarely regret making a change that failed. But people regret not making the change.

7 ways to overcome doubt

1. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s usually less than your generalised fears will tell you.

2. Take baby steps towards your objective.

3. Focus on the opportunity. It’s there, waiting for you. It’s your big chance. You owe it to yourself to try.

4. Get support. Find someone who will endorse what you want to do.

5. Minimise your weaknesses. What skills, knowledge or experience do you need? What would give you greater confidence? Amanda buys books on local history, enough to start a second hand bookshop. As a result, she knows more about local history than anyone else. She gave herself a practical project, recording the history of a family of stonemasons who owned our house in the 1800s. It’ll probably turn into an article in the town’s local history yearbook. It’s how she went from knowing nothing about local history to being an expert.

6. Accept setbacks. There will be partial failures along the way. That’s part of the learning experience.

7. Just go do it. Tell yourself you have to do it. Put down the book and do it.

There’s a saying: If you have  to swallow a toad, don’t look at it for too long.

Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

Are you biased?

If I asked you whether you were biased, you’d immediately say ‘No!’.

You might say you’re biased against racism or violence, but they don’t really count, do they?

The fact is, we’re not fully aware of how our brains work. Our brains process 11 million bits of information every second. But we can consciously process only 16 to 40 bits. That means we aren’t fully aware of 99.99% of the things we see and hear.

And that’s not surprising. If you had to fully review every piece of information you see, you’d never get out the front door in the morning.

But it means that almost everything you do and think is just based on preconceived notions, things that are tucked away in your brain. And that means you and I aren’t aware of our biases.

We’re especially prey to confirmation bias, where we look for things that support our beliefs. If you think you’re a failure or indecisive, you’ll filter information that supports that view. We reject anything that suggests the opposite. When that happens, you need to ask yourself, is this really true, or is it just my brain agreeing with what it’s used to thinking?

Then there’s the status quo bias. We’re happier staying where we are, rather than moving forward into the unknown. It’s the same as loss aversion, where we hate to lose what we’ve got now rather than win a better future.

The well travelled road effect is where we over-estimate the time it will take get to less familiar places, while doing the reverse for routes we know.

Think now about the challenge of making the change. The planning fallacy is where we underestimate how long it will take us to achieve something. And when we find it takes much longer, we give up. It’s important to recognise that achieving something of value can take time, and stick with it. Don’t give up half way through!

    Self handicapping is where we avoid risking our self esteem by not taking action. It prevents us from losing face. If you think you might fail to achieve change, you might put blocks in the way, for example through procrastinating.

Gosh, that’s a lot of negative possibilities! There are countervailing biases, ones that lead to over-confidence. As he walked around the line of troops who were diving for cover, the US Civil War General John Sedgwick remonstrated with them: ‘They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance’.  At that point a sharpshooter’s bullet hit him in the head, killing him instantly.

But this book is mostly about plucking up the courage to take action, rather than ducking for cover.

Now fill out the table below. It will help you overcome any hidden biases.

You can download a fillable Word document here: Bias quiz.


Type of bias Solution Does this apply to you? If so, how? How will you overcome it?
Confirmation bias, looking for things that support our sometimes negative beliefs. Try to see the world as it is, rather than how you would like it to be.  
Status quo bias. Are you happier staying where you are, rather than moving forward into the unknown? Embrace the future. It will challenge you, but also liberate you.  
Loss aversion. Would you hate to lose what you’ve got now rather than win a better future? Accept that your new life will be different and better, and that it may involve the loss of what you’re familiar with.  
The well-travelled road effect. Do you over-estimate how long it will take you to achieve your change? The longest journey starts with the smallest first step.  
Planning fallacy.  By contrast, are you likely to give up half way through your change project, when you find it takes longer than you expected! Don’t give up!  
Self-handicapping is where we avoid risking our self-esteem by not taking action. It prevents us from losing face. If you think you might fail to achieve change, you might put blocks in the way, for example through procrastinating. Self-destructive behaviour will hold you back. Accept that partial failure affects us all. It is a learning experience.  

Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.

Ask for permission or apologise afterwards?

When a wagon blocked a bridge during General Patton’s 1943 Sicily offensive, holding up his forces, Patton personally shot the animals and had them pushed off the bridge.

Elsewhere in the war, Patton moved at lightning speed.  He had supreme confidence in himself, and masses of Agenc, more than most of us.

But we can use him as an example (albeit a flawed one) of how to succeed.  You’ll move as fast as you can make decisions. In other words, if you dither, you won’t move forward.

Many of us feel we need to ask permission to do things. And it’s clear that the people who gained success in life didn’t do that.

How does this apply to you? It depends on who you’re up against. If you live or work in a negative, hierarchical environment, and you ask permission, it will often be denied. So asking for forgiveness may be the best route.

By contrast, in an outward looking, entrepreneurial work place, it may be better  to get others on board before you act. 

In general, you should act decisively and apologise for it later, if you get it wrong. It’s better than delaying by asking permission which is likely to be denied.

Many TV police shows involve a maverick officer deciding to do it their way, rather than playing by the rules. It gets them into trouble with their boss. But eventually the officer is found to have done the right thing. If you ask permission, a boss will usually refuse it, because for them the risks of inaction are much less than the impact of failure.

When it comes to decisions that affect only you, you have to act decisively. Those around you may tell you the risk is great, and you’re better off where you are. Sometimes you have to be General Patton, and just do it.

Patton also said: ‘When there is fear of failure, there will be failure’. In other words, if you’re worried about failing, you won’t take the risk. You have to commit to change, and accept that you might fail. But for most things, it’s only ever a partial, limited failure. Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ is a good motto.


Old self, new self

Are you waiting for permission to act? Here’s the thing. No one will give you permission. Only you can give yourself permission. Most of the people you know will have a fixed view of who you are. Let’s call it ‘your old self’.  It’s almost impossible for any of them to see ‘your new self’.

Could your old self achieve the change you have in mind? No. So people can’t visualise it. They are likely to be negative.

And if confronted with the new you, they may be defensive. You might become bigger than them. It might diminish them. Your move will disrupt the status quo.

You might have one or two close friends who will support you If so, you’re fortunate. And you’ve chosen your friends well. They will be your cheerleaders. But many of us don’t have that.

Now take the ‘Old self, New self’ test.

You can download a copy of the test here: Old Self New Self quiz


Old Self, New Self
How would other people would describe your current (old) self? What would they say about you?
Imagine you made the change you want. How would someone describe your new self? What difference would they see?
How would the difference make you feel?
What’s the first step to becoming ‘your new self’?


Do you want help with achieving change in your life? We have a coaching programme that could help you. Learn more.