I’m a huge sports fan. As a good Southern girl, I spend my fall Saturdays watching college football. The rest of the year, I’m trailing my own little athletes to a variety of practices and games, cheering so loudly they beg me to stop.

As a fan, I’m familiar with the concept of momentum – the invisible but very real force that can carry a team to success.

Something small can happen in the game – one team capitalizes on an error by the other, a star player makes a standout play, or a critical penalty gets called – and the energy seems to shift. All of the sudden, it’s as if everything starts to fall in favor of one team. They get all the breaks. They seem to play with a new energy and edge. They perform above and beyond what has been expected of them.

Momentum is a force that exists beyond sports, however. One example is the debt snowball, popularized by Dave Ramsey. According to Ramsey, when you’re trying to pay down a large amount of debt, you should start by paying off the smallest first, then the next smallest, on and on until all debt is paid. The reason is simple – by reaching a small goal, you’ll capture the momentum you need to tackle a bigger goal. The success you have will help motivate your progress forward.

But wait. Why is an executive coach writing about sports and money management? Because, if you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need momentum on your side as well. Whether you want to boost your leadership capabilities, build your strategic thinking skills, or finally leave behind your habit of procrastination, you’re going to need a little momentum to carry you through.

How do you start building momentum?

Just like you build a debt snowball – by taking one small action. By nudging yourself one small step outside your comfort zone. By making one small change and seeing how it works.

Let’s say you wanted to improve your ability to lead meetings, for instance. I’d suggest you start with the meeting that feels the most comfortable for you, and set a specific goal for what you want to be different. That might sound something like “I want to ensure that the team leaves our weekly staff meeting with clear action items.”

Will this one step make you a master at facilitating meetings? No, but it will start the ball rolling. Once you’ve mastered this task, you would look for the next action item you could take. In our example, you might move on to a higher level meeting or take additional steps to improve your staff meeting.

As you experience success in making these changes, you’ll feel energized to move forward in making even more. You’ll have a new sense of confidence – not just about your ability to lead meetings, but also about your ability to change and grow as well. You’ll have unlocked the power of momentum and begin to understand how crucial it is to personal and professional development.

Ready to get started building momentum toward your goals? Here are a few additional things to keep in mind:

1. Start as small as possible.

I know it’s tempting to make the goals a little bigger, but when you’re trying to build momentum it’s crucial that you pick a small action and master it first. We want you to experience success and use that success to push you forward. If you set too big a goal, you might miss this opportunity.

2. Notice your wins.

When you’re headed towards a big goal, it can be easy to miss the steps it takes to get there. But, celebrating these wins is key to unlocking momentum and realizing that you are on the right path.

3. Keep going.

It’s natural to lose momentum, especially when your end goal is a big one. If you find yourself lagging, don’t hesitate. Just find the next small action you need to take and get back on track with building the snowball again.

If you’re serious about taking your performance to the next level or reaching a big goal, you can’t afford to ignore the concept of momentum. So pick your first action step and get rolling today!