What’s Your Next Milestone?

district-3670200_640Depending on which source you look at, between 60 and 80 percent of New Years resolutions fail. By February first, people have either abandoned or forgotten about the goals they set for themselves. For most, it seems, the bar that is set turns out to be a bit too high.

Resolutions aren’t the only goals that cause us to stumble though. We often set goals and fail to meet them. We regularly bite off more than we can chew. While it is admirable to think big, to succeed we must act small.

The key to achieving big goals is to break them down into smaller, easily achievable milestones. As we string more and more of these together, the unattainable goal becomes ever more manageable. In this way, you can stairstep your way to success.

Psychologically, this method provides other benefits:

  • Pursuing small milestones promotes a better work ethic. When the task before you appears difficult or the time required seems overwhelming, there’s a temptation to cut corners. Goal achievement can become a race to the finish or an exercise in “checking the box” just to mark the job complete. Breaking the job into smaller pieces provides you the freedom to perform your best. Without the pressure of getting to the next stage, you transfer that extra effort into better output.
  • Pursuing small milestones leads to greater productivity. Ironically, completing one task propels you into the next. You know the feeling – crossing one item off your to-do list sparks a desire to tackle the next one. In the same way, achieving one milestone on the path to a larger goal gives you a boost of energy that can be applied to the next. You wind up making more progress than you expected to at the outset.
  • Pursuing small milestones improves the way you think about yourself. Reaching a small milestone sends a positive signal to your brain – “I am a person of action. I get things done.” Each successive step you complete reinforces this positive self-image. The confidence you gain from a track record of success makes it easier to take on larger and more complex goals.

Make 2020 the year you get more done. Learn to chase milestones instead of goals.