Many of us set goals like going to the gym regularly or quitting a bad habit. Setting goals is a great practice and can improve the quality of your life. I recommend even taking the time to write them down. But with achieving a goal, just as I advised in my recent post about starting a business, “5 Tips to Start Working for Yourself”, there’s no better time than now to start. Speaking from personal experience, that’s easier said than done.
People see me working 16-18 hours a day without breaks, so of course they believe I’m super hardworking. In reality, that level of work intensity only happens when I’m passionate about what I’m working on. Several years ago if you gave me a task related to finance, management or operations, you’d observe a master of procrastination at work. As CEO, though, and for the sake of the business, I had figure out how to push past procrastination and get tasks done—even the less inviting ones.
In this post, I want to share what I’ve learned to help you go beyond just setting a goal to actually starting to achieve it. They’re easy tips, and doable for anyone.
Set micro goals
Part of the problem with getting starting may be how you envision your goals. For example, if you set a goal of reading an entire book in a week, losing 30 pounds, or simply starting to go to the gym, does the thought of each goal feel overwhelming? You probably think about reading the whole book, losing all 30 pounds, or going to the gym every morning at 6 am?
You think it’s too hard, or you simply don’t believe you have time for it yet.
To overcome that overwhelmed feeling, break down your overarching goal into smaller, more achievable micro goals. Instead of saying that you’ll read the whole book, set the smaller goal of reading a page a day. Do that until it becomes habit, and then build on the habit, reading two, three, or more pages a day. Before you know it, you’ve read the entire book.
A word of caution, though: Don’t try to achieve too much too soon, like reading 20 pages a day. It’s easy to burn out and fail. By setting reasonable micro goals, you eliminate a huge mental barrier and make it much easier to just get started.
Create and stick to the plan
Another key tip? Before you even start work on your goal, make a plan that includes step-by-step instructions for how you will establish the new behaviors needed to meet your goal. For example, if you decide to read a page before you go to sleep each night, the plan might go, “Brush my teeth, read a page and then go to sleep.” Also note in the plan when and how much you’ll increase those these behaviors. Over time, you’ll experience the constant success that encourages you to continue working toward your goal as laid out in your plan.
Work on one habit at a time
It’s easy to get excited when something works. Suddenly you want to try to achieve even more goals, right away. Just as you can burn out by trying to do too much toward meeting a single goal, you can burn out by trying to meet too many goals at one time. Try to tackle a single goal at a time to avoid zapping your energy, enthusiasm, and ability to succeed.
So do you want to achieve a goal or establish a new habit? Just reduce the barrier to entry by setting micro goals. Don’t start tomorrow, start now! Goal by goal and habit by habit, you can achieve almost all any goal you set.