Q. All the people in my workplace are working on their 10-year plan and making impressive resolutions about their goals. Some days my big...

Share story

Q. All the people in my workplace are working on their 10-year plan and making impressive resolutions about their goals. Some days my big goal is just getting to work on time. Am I a hopeless slacker?

A. No, you’re just more realistic than your co-workers.

I’m not sure who started the New Year’s resolution grand-goal campaign. I secretly suspect it’s the same folks who put decadent desserts on magazine covers that also declare the best ways to lose weight or who invented the plastic CD wrapping you can’t remove.

The reality is that grand goals mostly depress us and make us beat ourselves up and feel deeply inadequate. It’s hard to feel inspired when we see a Grand Canyon between where we are and where we want to be.

If you want to stay stuck, use a grand goal as a bat and watch your ego turn interesting shades of black and blue. If you are actually interested in change, convert your grand goal into its simplest possible beginning.

For example, if your lofty aim is winning “Dancing with the Stars,” how about starting with practicing walking and chewing gum. Notice the beginning step is easy and achievable. Even dedicated procrastinators would have trouble inventing reasons they can’t walk and chew gum.

When I’m working with clients, I often encourage them to “dumb down” their goals to speed up their accomplishments. It turns out that if you string together multiple simple beginnings, you get a lot done.

Most of us can only gaze with slack jaws and frozen anxiety when we attempt to “shoot the moon.” A few unusual souls may find such objectives motivational, but they may also think running with the bulls in Barcelona will increase their jogging speed.

Try the following exercise:

1. Write down your grand goal (e.g., look like a supermodel, be CEO in a month, make a billion).

2. Imagine the simplest possible step you can take tomorrow that would take you in the general direction of your goal (remember to comb your hair, arrive early at work, save money by not buying a latte).

3. Repeat No. 2 every evening from now to eternity.

If I were a writer of fortune cookies, I might add, “An ocean of achievement is made up of a daily drop of water.” But since I’m a communications expert, I’ll simply advise, “Sweat the small stuff.”

The last word(s)

Q. Your column makes it sound like the most important part of work is being able to manage interpersonal politics. Why should I have to work so hard to navigate childish reactions from others at work?

A. Because those “childish” reactions will tank your career like the Titanic if you don’t learn how to navigate through them.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube