The Power of Setting Small and Focused Goals
There is nothing wrong with setting big goals, aiming high and setting your sites on achieving major things however, if you are coming from a place of inaction, inconsistency, indecision and sheer laziness, setting big goals might be detrimental to your overall wellbeing. Not to say that eventually, you shouldn’t aim higher, but starting small can be more beneficial than you think.
Here’s a quick story, a few years ago, I went through a period of serious depression, I couldn’t get out of bed, my mind was a jumbled mess. When I finally gathered the strength to get out of bed and get my life together, i set myself this ridiculous goal of filming 100 youtube videos in 30 days, I also set a goal to lose 40 pounds in two months by juicing fasting. By the 14th day, I was a mess, burned out and completely fed up. I quit.
I tried again, I failed. After reading an article about the power of setting small goals, I decided to scale back and rework my goals and plans. I set a tiny goal of posting one YouTube video a week and I set myself a challenge to walk to the library and back every day instead of working from home. I stuck to it, i felt energised, excited and ready to take on the next challenge. My confidence was up and after three months I had built a healthy habit of walking every day, I lost 20 pounds. I felt like a boss!
Recently I set a huge goal to write 150 articles in one month, I am almost done however, prior to starting this challenge, I had already completed a 30-day article challenge where I submitted one article per day for 30 days. My next challenge was a big one, I published 100 articles in 30 days.
The point I am making here is that you do need to start somewhere. An example, if you want to start a running habit but you can’t run for more than two minutes without gasping for air, then you should probably start with a tiny goal of running for three minutes per day for the next 30 days, after a week three minutes will probably feel too easy, so you might want to increase it to four minutes. By the end of the 30 days, you will most certainly feel more confident and ready to step it up a notch.
There is power in setting small goals
Small goals are easy goals that motivate you to take action. There is power in setting tiny goals, don’t underestimate the small steps.
“Setting the bar too high can sere to de-motivate and discourage you from ever getting started.” -anon-
According to The Progress Principle, setting small goals and seeing regular progress motivates you to keep going.
Setting a small goal will provide the following benefits:
-Reduce the risk of burnout
-Allow you to see regular and consistent progress
-Motivates you to keep going
-Avoid the cycle of stopping and starting
Have you set yourself a huge goal, you start off with bags of energy, ready to crush it and then after seven days, you are done? You can’t face another 45-minute high-intensity workout, you just want to sleep all day, you have reached burnout. Sometimes pushing yourself too hard forces you into quick burnout mode. Especially if you are new to good habit formation, or challenging yourself.
See Consistent Progress
With small goals, you see consistent progress. You don’t have to wait until you have achieved the goal of running a marathon before you give yourself some credit. You’ve reached your small goal of walking for 30 minutes today, pat yourself on the back. Your next goal is to walk for 32 minutes next week, you got this! You are on a roll, feeling confident and ready to attack another day.
“Tiny goals help us build the momentum we need to chase slightly bigger goals later.” -anon-
When you build that momentum, you start feeling more confident, more capable and more focused. Each tiny goal builds your confidence and motivation. Start with the small wins and build momentum to tackle the big wins.
I have been trying to write a specific fiction novel for the past few years, I keep stumbling and stopping, why? Because I set myself huge goals of completing the book in a week, it would never happen and then it would dampen my confidence. Recently, I set myself a small challenge to write 500 words per day. After all, some of the most successful authors only write 500 to 1,000 words per day.
Holly Black, the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles writes 1,000 words per day. Ian McEwan writes 600 words a day and Sebastian Faulks writes 1,000 words per day.
I built my confidence by setting a smaller goal of writing 500 words per day and most days I hit 2,000 words for my novel, which is far more than I plan to write most days.
I actually despise the word motivation, it’s like some elusive force that is supposed to drag you out of bed to get things done. What does it mean anyway? It’s complicated but in a nutshell, motivation is what drives you to take action. Some people are motivated by money which is extrinsic motivation. Some are motivated by personal gratification which is known as intrinsic motivation.
What drives you to act, wake up in the morning and keep pushing forward? Is it your children? Your health? Do you want to boost your confidence?
Whatever the case may be, setting small, attainable goals can actually motivate you to keep taking tiny steps towards a bigger goal. The feeling of satisfaction you get when you achieve a tiny goal will push you because you want to experience that same feeling of fulfilment and pride.
Avoid the cycle of stopping and starting
That wretched cycle of stopping and starting, is demoralizing, confidence crushing and de-motivating. Instead of setting massive goals from the get-go, start small, achieve something and then move on to the next milestone.
The cycle of stopping and starting often happens with weight loss. You tell yourslelf that you want to lose 50 pounds, you plan to cut all junk food and embark on a water fast.
After three days you quit, why? Because the goal was simply too much, lower the bar a bit, hit that bar and raise the bar slightly higher. Avoid the disheartening cycle of stopping and starting by setting small, achievable goals.
All goals require action, whether big or small, you need to move to get results. Setting small goals works well when you struggle with consistency, motivation and focus. There is power in setting small and achievable goals. They reduce the risk of burnout, they allow you to see consistent progress, they build confidence, motivate you to keep going and they help you to avoid stepping into the cycle of stopping and starting.
Instead of placing unnecessary pressure on yourself, set tiny, attainable goals, work towards bigger goals. Start small, build up and boost your confidence and self-esteem along the way.