Big goals cannot be tackled all at once, they need to be carefully and thoughtfully broke into smaller bite-sized action steps or else you will never make any traction. Or at least that’s how it works with me.
I am a perfectionist and that means I am often a procrastinator. Out of fear of not being able to do something perfectly I will put it off and put it off and put it off until I’m in an all out panic to do the thing. I put too much value on the end result.
I have found so much success if I do the hard work of taking a big goal or project and breaking into smaller goals with deadlines. I may not know how to get to “z” but I do know how to get to “b” and then to “c.”
And so many of those steps, those tiny goals only take a few minutes a day.
For example, in 2017 I want to read 16 books. If I let the magnitude of this goal overwhelm me, and I procrastinate, getting to December having read no books, achieving this goal would be nearly impossible. However if I break this goal into small chunks it is completely doable. Easy and almost effortless actually. Because 16 books in 12 months is actually less than 1.5 books each month.
I loved how John Piper breaks this down. Just 15 minutes a day friends.
Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious theological reading to deepen your grasp of biblical truth. In one year (365 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year, we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, 15 minutes a day, you could read about 20 average sized books a year!
HOW TO MAKE SMALL STEPS TOWARDS BIG GOALS.
- Identify the big goal. Then, give it a deadline.
- Identify every single step involved to make the big goal happen. It may be easier to start backwards on this. It also may seem difficult or like a waste of time, I promise it’s worth the effort and you will see more fruit as a result of your efforts here.
- Give deadlines or dates for the smaller steps. Be generous with how long you anticipate even the small steps taking. I try to be an overachiever with goals and planning not being realistic about how long specific tasks actually take.
- Re-evaluate every quarter. If you get behind on tackling the smaller action steps this is a good time to re-divide the goal and set new deadlines/dates. Or you may need to re-evalute the goal or project altogether, is this something still worth pursuing? Does it need to end goal / project need to change in some way?
- Find simple incentives to reward yourself when you achieve a goal, small or otherwise. I am a firm believer that incentives provide motivation when you just really don’t want to.
- Pray. Praying in and through the process, as you complete small action steps as well as big goals, is of highest importance. Asking God to continually give grace and discipline as well as wisdom and discernment. Remember, we may be moving in one direction and if God wants to change that direction, even if it means abandoning a big goal, obedience to Him is always the best idea.
- My favorite resource for making those small steps toward big goals is the Powersheets from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I am a pen and paper girl and love the process of writing it all out and then having it in front of me all year long. The tending sheet sits on my desk all month long and gives a physical reminder/accountability for all of those small action steps.
- 10 Principles for Productivity by John Piper (LOVED this article!)
- What’s Best Next by Matt Perman
Do you have any favorite resources for making those goals happen? I would love to know!
I pray this was helpful for you as you begin tackling those 2017 dreams!!