At the start of each year, many people set huge goals for the next 365 days. A lot of those goals relate to self-improvement. While everyone makes their big goals with the best intentions, the reality is that most discard them within a matter of weeks. This pattern isn’t limited to the beginning of the year. If someone has a big project they need to tackle, they generally start out with very ambitious goals. But almost inevitably, they still end up scrambling the night before the project’s deadline to get everything finished.
These common scenarios make it clear that setting huge goals that are somewhat vague isn’t the way to accomplish what you want. Unfortunately, this type of advice still gets repeated even though it’s obviously not effective. If you’re tired of getting stuck in this type of goal trap, the good news is there is a way to break the cycle.
Little Goals > Big Goals
One of the reasons that so many people continue to only set big goals for themselves is they don’t want to put effort into something that doesn’t seem to provide much of a reward. What they don’t realize is putting aside big goals and focusing on little ones doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish something significant. What it means is that it’s easier to accomplish a string of little goals that amount to something notable than to try and tackle a huge obstacle all at once. Additional advantages of little goals include:
Momentum: Just getting started can be one of the hardest parts of accomplishing something. When someone faces a really large goal, it can feel too overwhelming and cause a type of paralysis that prevents them from taking action. So while you may initially feel like little goals set the bar too low, it’s important to realize that’s not a flaw or accident. Instead, it ensures you’re actually able to get started, which in turn will naturally allow you to build momentum.
Feedback: Studies related to everything from weight loss to job performance have shown that consistent feedback plays a significant role in successfully accomplishing a task. Keep in mind that this feedback doesn’t have to come from others. Instead, it can take the form of self-evaluation. With really large goals, it can be hard to set milestones to figure out where you’re at in the process. But with little goals, their very nature means that you’ll easily be able to assess how you’re doing on a regular basis.
Easy to Adjust: Another problem with big goals is they’re not very flexible. And since making such a big change requires a significant leap, people almost always fall off track. While that completely derails their attempt, with small goals, you can just acknowledge that your original plan wasn’t exactly right and adjust accordingly.
John Weezypoppy is a freelance writer who blogs about cheap scrubs as well as other medical supplies and uniforms.