The Fastest Path to Your Goals

posted by Aby Garvey 12 Comments

knitted scarfYou may already know this about me, but at my core I’m a dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfer. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from figuring out how to do something new, and then making it happen. Whether it’s painting a room, sewing curtains, knitting a scarf, or growing veggies, there’s tremendous satisfaction that comes from doing things myself. 

I know that many of my readers are DIYers like me and probably for similar reasons. So I wanted to let you in on a little secret: You don’t always have to figure everything out yourself. There are times, when the DIY mentality causes more frustration than satisfaction. In these situations, you can actually get where you want to be faster and easier if you reach out for help, new ideas and a fresh perspective. To a DIYer at heart, this feels a bit like paddling a canoe upstream. It simply goes against our natural flow. But I know firsthand that it’s worth it.

How do I know? Well, there have been a few times in my life where I’ve stretched outside my comfort zone and hired a coach or mentor. When I took up golfing, for example, I took private golf lessons so that I didn’t create bad habits I would later have to undo. When I started simplify 101, I hired a business coach so I would get where I wanted to be faster and more efficiently. Most recently I hired a running coach to help me achieve my goal of running a half-marathon. In each case, the same hesitation came up. Shouldn’t I be able to figure this out on my own? It’s a good question, because there are excellent resources out there, some of them even free, to help with running, golfing, starting businesses and getting organized. But, when a goal is really important to you, it’s critical to find the fastest path to it. Doing it on your own can lead to endless hours of research and stressing over which approach is truly best for you. When you seek the guidance of an expert, you get on the fast track to your goal. When I started my business, for example, I knew that I wanted to send out a monthly newsletter. My coach knew the exact steps to take to make that happen, which meant I sent out my first newsletter months before I would have if I had done it on my own.

How to find the fast track to reaching your goals

So when does this DIYer think it makes sense to reach out for help from others? Here’s when. 

1) When you’re clear on your goal and it’s important to you, but you don’t know the most efficient way to get there.  If there’s something in your life that you really want—to start a new business, get organized, or lose weight—then it just makes sense to find the fastest path to your goal. 

2) When the cost of not changing is greater than the cost of changing. One of the motivations of many DIYers is to save money. But sometimes, it’s actually less expensive to go straight to an expert for help. To evaluate if it makes sense for you to invest in help, consider the cost of not changing. What is disorganization costing you? It could be costing you money if you’re paying late fees, buying duplicates of items you already have, or buying new clothes because you can’t keep up with the laundry. It could be costing you peace of mind or even sleep. It could be placing tremendous stress on your relationship, not only with others but also with yourself. If you’re constantly berating yourself for not being as organized as you’d like to be, what cost is that having on other areas of your life? Once you’re clear of the costs of not changing, the investment in help to change can often seem like a no-brainer.

3) When you need assurance that you’re on the right path. When I hired my running coach, my goal was simple. I wanted to run faster. I have long legs that I feel I’m not putting to the best use when I run. So, I did what any DIYer would do and looked for solutions. I watched Youtube videos about new running strides and strength exercise that would help me run faster. But I wasn’t sure which approach was right for me. One expert said one thing, while another had a different idea. I wanted someone to watch me run and tell me what I could do better. I wanted to make sure I was on the right path so I could train with confidence.

Your criteria for when to seek help might look different than mine. But if you’re a DIYer at heart and there are areas of your life you want to change quickly, explore if seeking help from a coach or mentor is right for you. With coaching, you still get the satisfaction of doing it yourself, you simply get there faster.

When do you feel its okay to get help? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for joining the conversation!

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  • September 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Wow, did I need this.
    I’ve been trying to figure out a multitude of things to try doing–from growing vegetables to chickens to making lunches (this is actually working out, surprisingly) to cosplaying–while in high school. I’m pretty sure I’m doing too much…so maybe I should enlist some help. ^^

    Thank you for the article! Definitely helped me, something I’ve been pondering for a bit.

    September 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Glad the ideas were helpful to you Allison. Good luck with all of your projects!

    • September 13, 2013 at 8:34 am

      The more important expert I’ve ever hired is my therapist. I knew that, for all intents and purposes, I “couldn’t” resolve my issues on my own, and my family and I both suffered every moment those issues went unaddressed. You’ll understand, Aby, when I say I love my therapist so much that I’ve knitted for him. :-)

      The worst experience I had was in hiring a personal trainer. Her credentials were fabulous, but the result was a nightmare! How did you go about selecting your golf and running coaches?

      September 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      Hi, Linda,

      Thanks for your question. For the golf coach, the stakes were pretty low. I had never golfed before and simply wanted someone to teach me the right way to do it before I developed bad habits. So Jay and I took lessons together at a local golf course. It turned out great. I still remember some of his words of wisdom to this day. :)

      For the running coach, I had a specific goal in mind…to complete a half-marathon and be as efficient in my running as possible. The idea to hire a coach came to me via an email newsletter after I entered a drawing in a race. The coaches credentials seemed great (she has completed many marathons, etc.) so I emailed her and told her my goals and asked if she could help. It all fell into place from there. :)

      Hope that helps. The key for me has been to be clear on what I want out of the coaching and then seek someone out who fits the bill. It’s also nice if you can try something on for size to see how it works for you. My running coach will do as few or as many sessions as you’d like, so it’s really low risk. If it wasn’t a good fit, I could simply move on.


      September 18, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Thanks, Aby, that helps a LOT, and gave me a big “d’oh!” moment! I thought that because she had the credentials, she would “know” what was best for me. It never occurred to me to tell her what *I* wanted, or what motivational or goal-setting styles work best for me. That gives me a much clearer idea of how to approach things in the future!

      • September 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm

        Dear Aby, your article is exact for me. I like to do the things by myself too but sometimes I looked for help.
        I’m a kind of organized person but I’ve learned a lot with your articles and courses and I improved the organization in my home and I organized for others too.
        I decided to take organization as a bussiness. I took a course about “Bussiness for professional Organizers” with OZ a brazilian company, but reading your article I understood I need a bussiness coach “to get where I want” as you said.
        Do you have this kind of coaching program?

        September 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm

        Hi, Silvia,
        I don’t have a formal coaching program for professional organizers, but I’d be happy to talk with you about what you’re looking for in a business coach to see if I have the expertise you are looking for. I have been in business for nine years…so have a lot of experience to draw on. :)
        Email me if you’d like to explore this further.

        • September 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm

          I have a big goal. By May 2015 I will be in my own home. I am saving up money to buy a trailer with cash. I could probably do it sooner but I want to take this next year and a half to learn how to stay clean and organized while I’m in a smaller space. I have someone who comes in once a week to help me, but it’s still difficult. My brain is not wiredlike a typical brain. It takes me a long time to process things and I get easily distracted, it’s kind of like ADD. I can work up to 45 minutes before I get overwhelmed and need to stop. What I get done during that time most people can do in 10-15 minutes. I’ve learned to be ok with it, it is who I am. I think when I get everything more clean and organized I will be able to get more accomplished in a shorter period of time.

          I’m thrilled to have found your site and look forward to making the investment to take at least 2 of your classes; Learing how to organize and organizing yojr creative space. I am an artist.

          October 1, 2013 at 11:24 am

          Thank you Angela. I’m super excited to hear that you have learned to be okay with how long things take you. I bet that has been a huge help in your ongoing success because feeling frustrated only makes things harder.


          October 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm

          As I read your message, Angela, I felt so proud of you! I love your big goal and how you know and respect who you are. I wish you all the best!

          I don’t work as fast as I used to. Sometimes, it’s because I really want to pay attention to what I’m doing; other times, I’m dawdling because I hate what I’m doing. :-D But as long as I keep going, whatever the pace, I’ll get where I want to go. I know you will, too!

          • September 30, 2013 at 10:46 am


            Thank you, thank you. Everyone needs to be motivated and I think creative people tend to dig and dig and never finish. How did you find a great business coach? I looked several years ago, but was not sure what I was looking for. Do you know who might be great in Atlanta, GA? Anyway, I love your newsletters and everything you do. Great fan!!!

            October 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

            Hi, Martha,

            One of the great things about coaching is that you don’t have to be in the same location to work with a coach. So…I wouldn’t limit your search to Atlanta. Do you have a better feel now what sorts of things you would want to work on with a coach? I think that would help you find the right coach for you.