To be successful in life, micro goal-setting is the key.
Do you have big dreams and fantasies that cause you to shoot for the moon? Have you reached the moon yet, or are you still navigating amid the stars?
We often find ourselves star-struck and spell-bound by the inspiration from and aspirations of others, only to get caught up in the disappointment of the inevitable detours.
How can we stay on track with such ambitious goals? The answer is simple: micro goal setting. The secret behind the success of many is the creation of micro-goals to perpetuate overall success and goal completion.
What is micro goal setting?
Micro goal setting is just what it sounds like: breaking larger aspirations down into smaller goals. A simple example is creating smaller weight loss goals that add up to larger overall goals; rather than trying to lose 100 pounds at once, you can try to lose 1 pound a week.
Micro goal setting can also be reflected in daily habit changes that contribute to an overall lifestyle or philosophy, such as setting aside certain periods of the day to meditate or journal to improve social awareness and improve stress management.
Micro goal setting has been shown to have increased rates of motivation while creating smaller goals with incentives for achieving these goals leads to greater commitment to the overall goal. Ultimately, micro-goals are the product of breaking a larger goal into more achievable and consistently practised micro-goals.
Why is micro goal setting valuable?
Whether you are ambitious or simply struggle with achieving what you set out to do, micro goal setting offers many valuable incentives. First, micro goal setting makes larger goals more tangible.
Many who are overly ambitious create lofty goals that end up being unachievable and quickly abandoned. With micro goal setting, you can break down your dreams into doable components that lead to the overall completion of your goal.
For those who struggle with goal setting or accomplishment, micro goal setting can create a motivational incentive that snowballs into achieving more and bigger goals. When someone creates a simple and achievable goal, it creates a sense of achievement that incentivizes achieving other goals.
Larger goals that were previous deterrents, such as quitting smoking or running a marathon, become much more achievable when you achieve smaller goals such as going one day without smoking or taking a 15-minute jog.
Whether you are a chronic overachiever that gets distracted and dissuaded by your big dreams or you are easily deterred if you don’t accomplish what you think you should, micro goal setting provides a simple and easy achieve platform for accomplishing larger goals.
What are the fundamentals to successful micro goal setting?
The key to micro goal setting begins with having a quality macro goal that you wish to achieve. The popular recommendation for creating goals revolves around the SMART theory:
- goals should be specific with prescribed steps
- Goals should be measurable in some quantity or achievable components
- Goals should be achievable within your present abilities, interests, and resources
- Goals should be relevant to your overall life trajectory and not entail a considerable detour
- Goals should be time-bound so that they can be completed and evaluated within a certain period
Once you have a SMART goal that you wish to achieve, you can then fragment this goal into smaller micro-goals. Micro goal setting is popular within athletic circles because it incorporates the concept of periodization, or breaking down training schedules into different phases with differing objectives. The same approach can apply to any goal that someone wishes to achieve.
For example, let’s say you want to improve the amount of time that you spend with your family and your overall sense of connectedness to your family.
This goal can be measured within 6 months’ time, is relevant to your overall well-being and your family’s happiness, is achievable (hopefully everyone wants to have a happy home life), is measurable (by the amount of thank you’s you get) and is specific to you and your family.
A micro goal relevant to this larger goal could be to spend every Friday or Sunday having dinner with your family for 2 months. Once you achieve this micro goal, you can add another goal to spend 30 minutes playing with your kids on Tuesdays for 2 months.
Then you can add 30 minutes of helping your significant other with tasks or just spending time together (you know, spousal obligations).
By the end of 6 months, you have increased your family time by at least 2 to 4 hours and have probably seen an increase in overall happiness and social cohesiveness. Such an example is an arbitrary but simple exercise in demonstrating how micro goal setting can be applied to achieve larger goals.
How do you know you are successful and how do you stay on track?
The simple measure of how effective micro-goals are is whether they add up to achieving your overall goal. Micro goals in and of themselves can serve as milestones and markers of individual achievement; if this is your preference, then setting micro-goals is a habit that can lead to gradual improvement in whatever area you are implementing them.
That being said, having a larger goal with a specific timeline provides a framework that allows you to assess whether your micro-goals are adding up to the final result you seek.
While getting into the habit of breaking long-term goals into short-term goals and micro goals is essential to overall goal completion, there is always the temptation to get sidetracked, disappointed or just lose interest in achieving one’s goals.
Simple tricks to improve overall goal completion are to try and stay focused on a specific goal, provide a constant assessment of progress and break one’s goals into more manageable segments.
Have trouble losing one pound per week? Then why not aim for a half-pound each week rather than giving up on your weight loss goals.
As previously noted, rewarding yourself for achieving your micro goals helps to incentivize overall goal completion. If you’ve managed to lose 1 pound per week for 5 weeks, then treat yourself to a movie; many athletes even work in a cheat meal each week to maintain their focus on an efficient diet.
If you find yourself still struggling to achieve your micro-goals, reevaluating your long-term goal may help to refocus your efforts and channel your energy to more productive pursuits.
Achieving your goals does not require Herculean effort or scientific rigor. Achieving your goals simply requires constant, long-term commitment and vision amplified through constantly achieving your micro goals.
If you’re looking to boost performance, increase productivity or change how you’re living to achieve your vision of success, then creating micro-goals can be the recipe you need to finally enjoy the fruits of your labor.