So often, I’ve identified a goal I want to reach or a project I want to do, yet somehow I never get around to doing it. By examining the reasons for this so-called “procrastination,” I realized that often I was afraid I’d miss some critical step and fail. Other times, I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to begin.

I began to think my way backwards through a project until the point at which my fear disappeared and/or I understood and was capable of performing the required task. Through experience, I learned to focus first on the smallest possible outcome and action on my journey to a desired outcome, rather than on the final outcome itself. Before I know it, I’ve reached my goal by tackling it one step at a time.

It turns out to be pretty easy to achieve any particular goal when you use this “reverse” planning – identifying the steps you’ll need to take to reach your desired goal and get the results you want. Essentially, you will break down each project into a series of actions and intermediate outcomes.

It’s like building a house: first you dream about what you want and an architect translates it into a drawing. Then the architect creates a blueprint that clarifies the specific dimensions and characteristics of the house. Once that’s done, the architect creates specifications: the exact materials and products to be used, weight loads, wiring and lighting required, plumbing needs, etc. – what the contractor needs to actually build the house. The contractor then has a whole series of activities to plan, from laying the foundation to erecting the shell to installing all the building systems to putting in all the finishes inside and out, and finally landscaping.

The key to all this is that they all work backwards from the ultimate goal – a fabulous new move-in ready house – to develop the plan of action for achieving that goal. Each step depends on a preceding one, until ultimately we arrive at the beginning action.

Practically any goal you have can be achieved simply by identifying the small steps that go into reaching that goal. In this way, you can break down something daunting into manageable, doable actions. So instead of being afraid you’ll never achieve something, you can remove the fear factor and empower yourself to do just about anything you want to do.