The Importance of Breaking Goals into Managable Steps

setting goals
source: Tim Green

Do you set goals for yourself regularly?

I firmly believe that goal-setting is an important part of achieving our dreams and improving our life, a principle that applies to entrepreneurs, students, mothers and artists alike.

Identifying areas where we want to grow and change is a skill that sets successful people apart, but so often we accept “the way things are” because we’re not sure how to change them.

On the other hand, I know that setting lofty goals that seem unachievable can discourage and paralyze me if I’m not careful. Have you ever had that experience, where you’re so overwhelmed by a goal because you’re not sure how to get there that you just abandon the whole thing?

As a way to fight that discouragement, try setting MICRO goals instead:

Measurable Goals

Whenever you’re trying to make a change, it’s important to set measurable goals. Whether your goal is to make better use of your time, build your blog or grow a side business, set goals you can measure. Rather than “stop wasting time”, say “spend less than 15 minutes on Facebook each day.” Rather than “grow my blog”, try “increase my readers by 25% over the next three months.” Most likely you’ll have several of these smaller, measurable goals for any single goal you want to work toward!

Inspirational Goals

Finding motivation to change isn’t easy when you’ve lived a certain way for most of your life. Set inspirational goals that give you a reason to invest the time and effort into achieving them. For example, tie a certain reward to organizing a specific room – a piece of art work or a new lamp – or make a list of what “being successful” as a businessperson means to you so that you can look forward to th0se things when you start to feel discouraged.

Concrete Goals

It’s so easy to undermine your goals by choosing vague ideas that leave you overwhelmed and discouraged. What does “become a better mother” really mean anyway? Chances are it means something different to every person who resolves to do it. To make concrete goals, define exactly what you mean by “become a better mother” and, just as importantly, write it down. Do you want to spend more time playing with your children? Involve them in the kitchen more often? Hold your tongue rather than snapping or yelling when you get frustrated? Define what it means to you and write down your goals and vision where you can refer back to them often.

Realistic Goals

Another reason people abandon their resolutions is because they set unrealistic goals. Rather than resolving to start cooking meals that would make Emeril proud, set realistic goals that work with your personality and lifestyle. You might resolve to try one new recipe a week or to serve a vegetable with every meal. Setting unrealistic goals is an easy way to become discouraged before you even get started.

Obtainable Goals

Finally, it’s important to set obtainable goals. If you live in a small home with no storage, your goals are going to have to reflect that limitation, and you’ll have to come up with creative solutions for storing Christmas decorations and off-season clothing. If your life is busy and full, you may not be able to set aside 20 hours a week to work on your side business. If you set unobtainable goals, you’ll become easily discouraged when you can’t meet them.

MICRO Goals

Each of the principles above is an important part of goal-setting, but the acronym as a whole is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s important to break your goals down into micro-goals — smaller, bite-size steps with all of the characteristics we’ve outlined, each of which moves you closer to your ultimate goal or vision. It’s much easier to meet a goal that says “exercise 15 minutes a day” than it is to try to “lose 50 pounds over the next six month”. Defining the latter is still important, but breaking goals down into manageable steps is the key to actually getting there!

Do you tend set lofty, overwhelming, big-picture goals that make you give up before you get started?

This post is sponsored by my good friends over at Get Organized Wizard, where founder Michele Connolly helps people break their goals into manageable steps every day. Whether you’re looking to organize your home, achieve personal goals or build a solid business, Michele has tools to help you get there…one step at a time. Be sure to check out the new 52 Organizing Missions iPad App and get started organizing your home in just 30 minutes a week!

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