Why Setting Big Goals Doesnโ€™t Work (And Why Small Goals Make a Big Impact)

business entrepreneur instincts strengths Mar 25, 2021

“Reach for the stars!”

You’ve heard encouraging phrases like this for your entire life. I have too.

But what no one ever tells you is that there are about a million things that will get in your way between here and where those stars are. That may seem obvious but when setting lofty goals, it’s easy to forget exactly how much has to happen between where you are now, and where you want to be which can set you up for failure or abandoning your goals altogether. Big goals (like building a million-dollar business from the ground up, say) aren’t ever achieved overnight. E v e r. The fruits of your labor will be enjoyed after weeks, months, and often years of steadfast commitment to getting a fraction closer to reaching your goal every day.

So how do big achievers stay the course and realize even the wildest of their dreams? They set goals so small you’d miss them if you blinked. Seriously. They know that the accumulation of tiny accomplishments is what will lead them to achieving that million-dollar business goal, so they break down each step they will have to take between their current reality and the reality they are working toward. And then they break each of those steps down into even smaller ones. 

The question they are constantly asking themselves then becomes, “What is one small thing I can do today that will get me just a little bit closer to reaching my goal?” Sticking with the million-dollar business example, the answer to that question on day one might be something like “Brainstorm what kind of service or product I want to offer.” And on day two the answer might be, “Narrow my brainstorm down to five possibilities.” 

If you’re thinking that this approach to growth feels oversimplified, it’s because it IS. While setting tiny goals to manifest big dreams can feel counterintuitive, if the goals you’re setting day in and day out feel like biting off a little more than you can chew, the risk of burnout, overwhelm, and inaction are high.

Let’s say you set out in the general direction of your big goal without mapping out the steps you’ll need to take to get there… and then BAM. Circumstances pop up out of nowhere and you spiral off course. Inevitably, you’re back to square one and promise yourself you’ll “start again next Monday” or “it just wasn’t the right time.” Unsurprisingly, this approach to goal-getting can lead to resetting the same goals year after year resulting in disappointment and bruised belief in your own potential for success. The solution to this pattern is fortunately easy: keep dreaming big, but when it comes time for action, keep it small. Put differently, keep the long-term goal in the back of your mind and focus your energy on the small things you can do right now to propel yourself forward. 

The idea here is that by setting micro-goals that you know you can achieve (i.e, oversimplifying your path to getting what you want) you are building a foundation of success from which to move forward. When you succeed at taking one step toward your goal, you will take the next one with more confidence. And when you’ve taken two successful steps forward, you’re that much more likely to take a third. Rinse and repeat regularly and honey, you’ll reach every damn star in the universe. 

Wanna make some money, and fast? While we certainly prioritize our needs around here, we’re also strong believers that what we truly want deserves just as much time and attention as what we must have.

So whether you download this roadmap because you’re in a tight spot, or simply because you think bringing in a cool $5k over the next 5 weeks sounds pretty awesome (we agree), this guide was made for you. Enjoy!

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