When Your Goals Seem So Big and Distant

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Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves, even if they are for one year, seem so big that we could never accomplish them. Of course, we want to make sure our goals are achievable but also ambitious. But almost all goals need to be broken down into smaller, more manageable goals if we truly want to accomplish them. Here’s why:

  1. Long term goals alone encourage procrastination. Saving $2,000 by the end of the year? It sounds like you have plenty of time and no need to worry about it right now. This can be a recipe for failure.
  2. Long term goals alone deflate motivation. Feeling like your goals are always out of your reach and not being able to say you’ve actually accomplished anything is very discouraging.
  3. Long term goals alone don’t take unexpected things into account. Planning on saving $2,000 by the end of the year, only to have an unexpected hospital bill come up, is not going to be a very do-able goal.

It’s pretty clear that we’re going to have to set some shorter-term goals in order to reach those big goals of ours. Here’s how to take a BIG GOAL and break it down into an actionable step you can work on day-to-day:

  1. Find a few main action steps to get to that big goal. If your goal is to get a certain promotion at work, think of the main steps to get there. Maybe it’s to complete a big project, hit a certain amount of sales, make networking connections with 5 specific people, and find a mentor.
  2. Once you find your steps, put them in order of when they would need to be done and assign a due date to each one. My promotion example had 4 steps, so I could try to set a due date to complete one every 3 months in order to reach my goal by year’s end.
  3. Each month, look over your current step and determine what things you could do to work towards that step in that month. For example, if I was working on the networking step, I could make it a goal in February to network with 2 of those people. If life throws you a curveball, this is where you could adjust your goal to make it something that is still challenging but actually achievable.
  4. Take those monthly goals and translate them to your weekly schedule and to-do list. So, for example, if you went to an event with potential networking opportunities, you could literally write on your schedule “stay after event to have a conversation with John Doe.” This way, your goals are worked right into your daily life.

By following these steps, you can make any goal more do-able. I have a goal to beat my last year’s 5k time, so each month my action step is to run a timed 5 kilometers in order to gauge my progress and train. This translates to my weekly goals because I put the times I am going to the gym directly into my planner so I can prepare and run these action steps. You can do the same thing with any goal of yours!

What action steps can lead you to your long-term goal? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

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