Setting lofty goals can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. The excitement of what could be pushes us out of our comfort zones and motivates us to give our dreams a shot.
However, when the inevitable “bump in the road” occurs and we’re confronted with the possibility of failure, overwhelm tends to set in. When this happens, it’s important to remember that the possibility of failure has been present in each and every pursuit of greatness by anyone brave enough to dream. The possibility of failure was present when: hunter-gatherers scrounged for food, electricity was discovered, the first airplane took to the skies and the first man landed on the moon – the list is endless.
If you’re someone who gets overwhelmed or discouraged when faced with challenges, fear not! It means you’re human just like the rest of us. It’s absolutely normal to feel this way – especially when you have a goal you want to achieve more than anything.
What’ll set you apart is what you choose to do after overwhelm presents itself to you – will you let it push you or stop you?
Challenges are virtually inevitable but failure doesn’t have to be. However, failure will be inevitable unless you keep pushing forward and trying again, again and again.
If you can go into your goal setting practice with the above in mind, it’ll make the process much easier for you (and your mental health). I believe goal setting should be exciting, motivating and fun.
With that said, ever since I was a child, I’ve sat down several times a month with a pen and paper to write out my monthly and/or yearly goals. To this day, I find comfort and structure in frequent goal setting as it allows me to remain dedicated, focused and passionate about my aspirations.
Years ago, when my goals became more career-oriented and aligned with self-improvement, I discovered that I needed to shift my goal-setting habits to be more effective and, well, bite-sized. So, I began setting micro goals and it was life-changing.
What are Micro Goals?
Micro goals are the stepping stones that get you to the top of the hill (your primary goal). From there, you can sit back and enjoy the sunset. They are the brush strokes of a breathtaking painting. Without them, there would be no breathtaking paintings – or art museums worth visiting for that matter.
Simply put and without metaphors, they are a series of smaller goals that help make your primary goal more attainable and make the journey there less daunting.
How to Set Micro Goals?
Micro goal setting tends to be far less intimidating than setting primary goals. I’ve always indulged in rituals to fully immerse myself in the goal-setting experience.
You don’t have to go all out but putting on your favorite song, lighting a candle or taking several deep, intentional breaths can make the experience that much more enjoyable.
I highly suggest having your own goal-setting journal where you can write freely, make bullet lists and jot down ideas. Once you’ve designated your goal-setting journal, the journey to your goal can commence!
Here’s how I set micro goals in three easy steps:
- Before making a bullet list, spend several minutes freely writing out everything you wish to achieve. This can be about one specific goal or several goals. For example, you can write about wanting to further your education. Write out how it would feel while in the process of doing so and then how it would feel once you accomplish it. It doesn’t matter whether you write full sentences or just jot down several words that come to mind. Before moving on, write down why you want to do this and how it could impact your life. Let’s go back to the furthering your education example. The why you provide could be that you have a passion for whatever field of study you wish to pursue and the impact on your life could be related to personal satisfaction, knowledge attainment or career progression.
- Break down your goal. This is the most important step in the entire process as this is where the magic lies. This is the step that gets you even closer to achieving your goal. To make things easy, I’ll refer to the furthering your education example. The breakdown of this goal – I recommend using bullet points – could look something like this: research schools; research programs related to my area of interest; review tuition costs and payment plans; ask friends and family about programs or schools; network with current students and/or professors; prepare a personal statement and edit for several days; gather references or necessary documents to apply; fill out the application form; apply; consider realistic options if accepted (i.e. how it would affect work or other commitments); patiently await results. Remember: bite-size pieces and don’t forget to savor each bite!
- Take inspired action. Now that you’ve broken your goal down into micro goals, it’s time to set feasible time frames and take inspired action. After all, those micro goals won’t achieve themselves! The momentum you’ll feel after completing each micro goal will propel you towards your dream.
Following Through with Micro Goals
Setting micro goals is the easy part. Following through with those micro goals can be the hard part but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you commit to just one micro goal per day or week, you’re still progressing and getting closer to achieving your dreams.
Some goals take longer than others but once we achieve them, we won’t necessarily remember how long it took us to get there. However, we will remember the steps we took to get there and the meaningful lessons we learned along the way.
The power of micro goals is known only to those who have utilized them and believe in the potential they offer.
Do you set micro goals? If so, how have they helped you achieve your goals?