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How to Set Little Goals to Achieve Big Things

It’s New Year’s Resolution time. Each new year, millions of people set resolutions and, with very good intentions, start strong. Unfortunately, in an overwhelming majority of cases, enthusiasm, willpower and drive run their courses. After a few weeks, or even days in, most give up.

If this describes you, do not despair. There is nothing wrong with you. In fact, a lot of behavioral science and research tells us there are much better ways to tackle your resolutions and goals that will dramatically increase the likelihood for success.

The Importance of Small Goals

Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.

Big goals are great out of the gate, but to reach them requires multiple small accomplishments along the way. Big goals represent the outcome of many smaller goals, and efforts. Big goals like “losing 50 pounds” (a crowd favorite this time of year), “growing my client base by 45 percent,” or “saving $30,000 for retirement and travel” CANNOT be accomplished in one fell swoop.

What we now know is that breaking down “30,000-foot goals” into smaller, more immediate wins that are process oriented are far more likely to get you to your final goal (with small celebrations along the way).

For instance, with the goal of losing 50 pounds this year, establishing smaller goals like walking five times a week, replacing one meal a day with a salad, and intermittent fasting will help you to see the first five come off, and will become self-sustaining. Smaller goals give you specifics to focus on daily and are highly motivating every day.  Also, the “just for today” mentality is a great way not to feel overwhelmed by the larger end goal.

Think of it as working a strategy and focusing only on accomplishing the day’s goals. Before you know it, days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and not so suddenly, but methodically you have reached your larger goal.

How to Set Goals

In 1981, George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham developed some principles for successful goal setting, and then published their work called SMART goals. Their work, with only slight variations, are still the gold standard of successful goal setting. Their methods have become widely popular and incredibly successful in helping people achieve great things.

SMART is an acronym for learning how to properly set goals, and breaks down like this…

  • Specific: Target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable: Quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
  • Achievable: This is a balance. You want the goal to be achievable but not a walk in the park. As milestones are reached, confidence grows, and you can challenge yourself more.
  • Realistic/Relevant: State what results can realistically be achieved given available resources. Make sure the goal is what you want to achieve.
  • Time-Related/Time Bound: Specify when the result can be achieved. Target dates are important. Pre-deadlines keep the sense of urgency top of mind.

For more information on SMART goals, click here.

At Peachtree VA, there’s nothing better than seeing our clients succeed. We’ve helped dozens reach their goals by providing top-notch resources which creates the focus and space they need to grow. Our Method Matching will deliver the perfect Virtual Assistant for you.

Remember, we are in your corner when it comes to helping you achieve your goals. We would love to a part of your process. Contact our Director of Business Development today for a no-obligation phone call.