On a popular weight loss show, a contestant weighing over 500 pounds kept repeating, “I have to lose my dad. I have to lose my dad.” While I’m not in the contestant’s shoes needing to lose almost 300 pounds — the amount his dad weighed — his statement shook me. His body language, his face, his words all revealed he was feeling paralyzed.
This “it’s too big of a goal” thinking can overpower people in all parts of their lives. Many set big goals and objectives thinking of only the result. Then reality hits when they see how much work and time it will take to reach this big goal. Paralysis, delays and procrastination follow until they stop trying and fail to reach their goal.
Make it happen. It can be anything you need to change or do. Lose five pounds. Write 100 words. Work on the project for five minutes.
Change Overwhelming Goals into Doable Ones
A more doable approach is to break the big goal into smaller, more manageable goals. This doesn’t mean ignoring the big goal of losing 200 pounds, earning your first million or serving your 10,000th customer. To turn these big goals into bite-sized goals, set smaller goals of losing 10 pounds for this month, earning extra $100 a week or finding two new customers this week. As soon as you reach this smaller goal, bump it up. Thinking smaller and accomplishing those little steps will give you the satisfaction and motivation to continue.
You can apply this approach to many situations with these steps:
- Identify what you want to change or accomplish.
- Create a bite-sized goal that brings you a step closer to what you want to change or accomplish.
- Reach goal? If yes, go to the next step. If no, go back to step two and try again or modify the goal to something more reachable.
- Celebrate and up the goal.
- Repeat steps two through four until you reach your big goal.
Start with Five Minutes
Instead of thinking “I need to write an 800-word article,” start by writing 100 words or writing for five minutes. Continue this process, building your way up to the big goal of the 800-word article. This approach of small steps cuts the chances of your giving up.
This do something for five minutes approach works great for when you’re not in the mood for working on something. Do it for five minutes and see what happens. For email addicts, close your email application for five minutes. Increase the time as you adapt. For web-based email, try using a different browser that you never use when you need to do something on the web. Make it a rule that you can’t open the web-based email application on that browser.
I’ve had a few days when I didn’t check email between first thing in the morning and noon. That’s HUGE for me. It took a while to make it happen, but I started by closing my email app and switching to “Contacts” in Gmail so I’m not staring at the emails waiting for me. I have good days and bad days when it comes to checking emails less often. It’s progress.
I check email obsessively on days when I want to hear from someone. That desire for a little connection is one that changing email habits won’t cure.
I picked up this philosophy from the the short “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer.
How did you make it happen?