People always say you should keep your eye on the target. I don’t agree. Huge goals can be intimidating and overwhelming.
Writing a book. Launching a podcast. Starting a business. These projects can take months to complete and years to succeed. Realizing the amount of work ahead of you can be daunting — so daunting, people quit.
Since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you don’t want to be a part of that group. You want to accomplish big things. You want to reach your goals even if though they scare you. Especially because they scare you.
What’s the solution? Believe it or not, the answer is: baby steps.
This Type of Goal Matters More Than Anything Else
I have a goal that scares me, one that I want to quit about once a week: finish the first draft of my book. When I think about all the pages that go in a book, all the blank pages I have to fill, I get the urge to curl up in bed and hide under a blanket.
But I don’t. Because when I start thinking about all of those pages, I remind myself that I don’t have to worry about them now. I only need to worry about writing one page today.
We think we need to take giant leaps to reach our goals, but we don’t. You only need to think about the next baby step you have to take.
You have your long-term goal, so now you want to set short-term goals to reach that big target. Monthy, weekly, or preferably, daily goals. Daily goals you know you can reach every day is the key to achieving big things.
Why? Because every one of those tiny actions will add up. It’s up to you what they’ll add up to. Will you write every day until, one day, you realize you’ve written a book, or will you watch Netflix every day until you realize six months have passed and nothing has happened?
Your actions add up whether or not you want them to. Instead of being passive, take control of what you do so that you make something of yourself and reach your goals.
The formula, according to Jeff Olsen, author of The Slight Edge is: consistently repeated daily actions + time = inconquerable results.
Don’t let fear stop you. Follow the formula, over and over again, and see where it gets you.
How to Set Tiny Goals That Lead to Big Success
To finish the first draft of my book, I set a goal to write two-hundred words every day. It’s easy — well, not always — but hard to miss because it’s such an achievable goal.
Until I finish the book, I have to keep up with that schedule daily — and I have, since January first. This makes writing the book easier. Instead of freaking out about what I have to write, I just need to get through two-hundred words.
I don’t doubt that I’m going to finish writing this book because I think I’m talented and have endless confidence in myself. I know I’ll finish it because I’m taking it day by day.
As long as you’re walking forward, no matter how small the steps, you’re going to reach the end. You won’t reach it by staying in the same place because the journey looks so long, which is what people tend to do.
In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy wrote:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
Set a specific goal you can reach every day, just like my two-hundred words. If you’re an artist, your goal could be to sketch every night. If you want to write on Medium, your target might be an article every morning.
Remember, it’s about taking it day by day and not worrying about how far the final result is or how long it’ll take you to arrive.
The Final Result Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think
When you break down your goal, it’s easier to look at it with both your eyes instead of peeking at it through your fingers, like a child who’s watching a horror film for the first time.
It’s like putting together a house of legos. If you look at everything you have to do to build that house, you’re going to feel like you can’t do it. That’s why you take it piece by piece. Next thing you know, the entire, grand project is done.
You don’t even need to know what the final vision is. People encourage us to set a goal, three, five, ten years from now. Me? I don’t know what the hell my life will look like a year from now.
I have a vague goal of sticking around Medium for four more years. I don’t have specifics or anything that’ll happen in between. I take that day by day, too. Write an article, publish an article. It’s simple that way.
How Do Successful People Succeed in the First Place?
People ask, “How do I reach my goals?” and they expect complex answers. But the answer is one day at a time. People don’t like that response because it’s too simple. They want an answer that’ll make them feel like superstars.
Following your dreams is fun because you like what you do, but you’re not going to feel like you own the world. Sometimes you’re going to be bored. There’s no music playing over you as your life plays out like a montage.
The reason successful people reach their goals isn’t that they’re thinking big all of the time. They reach their goals because they think small.
They consistently take small actions every day that will eventually add up until it looks like they’ve done the impossible.
Your actions add up whether or not you want them to. Instead of being passive, take control of what you do so that you make something of yourself and reach your goals. — Jeff Olsen, The Slight Edge
I didn’t set out to write and publish nearly 400 articles. I wrote one as often as I could. Next thing you know, I was 396.
If that sounds boring, I’m sorry, but that’s how it works. Really, you should be relieved. You don’t have to burn out and lose sleep. You can be great by taking baby steps.
The Smartest Move You Can Make
There’s something important you need to remember: there’s no rush. You might not like the idea of taking your goals day by day because you want to do everything in 24 hours. But you can’t.
There’s no need to run faster (unless your goal is literally to run faster). You can walk — and on certain days, when you feel motivated and energetic, run. But it’s okay to go slow. To take it step by step because at the end of the day, you’ll reach your goal.
Going slow isn’t a weakness — it’s a strength. Breaking down huge goals into small ones that won’t scare you away is the smartest move you could make.
You can’t rush success. Things will happen when they want to happen. You can’t decide what day and year you’ll finally “make it.”
Get your eyes off of the future and focus on the daily, consistent, persistent, small grind. That’s how you’ll do great things.