Having goals is important. It is important to achieving personal and professional success, and overall happiness. But sadly, many goals go unaccomplished. In my opinion, one of the major causes of failed goals is the lack of urgency. When setting goals, we tend to think too much about where we will be in the future and not enough about what we need to do now to get there. And while it is important to visualize future success with our long-term goals, something needs to be done at the present to get there. There needs to be a tangible link between the future and the now. In come micro goals.
Micro goals are simply your long-term goals broken down into everyday mini-goals, or mini-milestones. They can also be seen as subgoals. Micro goals are extremely specific—they are task-specific goals and deal with everyday tasks that need to be done in order to achieve bigger goals. Here is what a micro goal looks like when its broken down from its larger goal:
Long-term goal: Lose 20 pounds in 60 days.
Short-term goal: Run 4 times a week, 4 miles each time.
Micro goal: Get to the gym and run at least a mile today. Then once you are finished with that first mile, your next milestone is to run another mile. Then another. Then another.
What micro goals do is break down any task into smaller steps (or chunks as Zig Ziglar puts it). A goal of running 4 miles today is a short-term goal. But what a micro goal does is that it breaks down those 4 miles into smaller chunks so that it will push you to just start—and to keep going once you’ve started. While 4 miles may not seem like much to seasoned marathon runners, it is a mountain for those who are uninitiated.
Lars Draeger, in his book Navy Seal Training Guide: Mental Toughness attributes setting micro goals as one of the primary reasons 25% of SEAL candidates have the mental strength and positive mindset to get through the rigorous training regimen to become full-fledged SEALS. If SEALS think it is important to their success, everyone should be doing it.
Why Micro Goals?
A goal to ‘start profitable business in one year’ can be pretty scary. Where would you even start? But breaking that goal down into chunks of smaller goals makes it a lot more manageable. For instance, here is a list of some micro goals that you can do today that will help you in your goal of starting a profitable business in one year:
- Submit paperwork for business registration
- Get a domain name for business website
- Research wholesale prices
- Conduct target demographic survey
- Get bids from web designers
These micro goals are subgoals for your goal of starting a profitable business. And that is what a micro goal ultimately does; it serve as constant reminders of what you must do each and every day in order to achieve your goals. With that said, here are a few reasons why you should incorporate micro goals into your everyday life.
1) Pushes you to start, NOW
Because micro goals are about the “now” and not the distant future, it forces to start doing something NOW. Even though they are called micro goals, the act of consistently doing something now adds up to some big returns in the future. Consistency is the key to success and if you are consistently working on your goals, day in and day out, by accomplishing micro goals, you will succeed.
2) Keeps you on track and great for building momentum
Micro goals are also good for getting you to stay the course and building momentum. There will be days where you do not feel up to the task to do anything. But micro goals serve as a constantly reminder for you to get off your butt and start. But once you start, something oddly interesting happens—you start feeling really good about yourself and want to do more. Dopamine is a chemical in the body that regulates motivation and our reward system. It also regulates the will and motivation to act. Dopamine is released by pleasurable sensations, such as a task accomplished—and further motivates you to keep going.
3) Great for having multiple goals
Many of us have multiple goals that compete for our limited time. Multiple long-term goals present a problem in and of itself—it creates confusion and a time commitment conflict. The mind is constantly asking itself “which goals should I be working on today?” By creating multiple micro goals, time constraint pitfalls that come with having multiple parallel goals are avoided. Micro goals break big goals into little manageable chunks, which make it entirely possible to work on multiple projects throughout the day.
4) Forces you to think about order and priority
Micro goals force you to think about your priorities in your life. Since micro goals are imminent and urgent, it forces you to avoid procrastination and actually get something done. It forces you to think about how you want to spend your time today, and what you must do today in order to progress further along with your long-term goals.
How Micro Goals Should Work
Micro goals is not about what you are going to do in the future or what you are going to do later, it is about what you are going to do now. And that sense of urgency and the proceeding feeling of accomplishment does a great deal of good for the psyche by providing needed momentum and motivation. In addition, it provides a roadmap for you to achieve your goals. In using micro goals, you are always keeping your eyes on taking the next step, and not looking at the top of the mountain.
I have started incorporating micro goals into my daily life and constantly set numerous micro goals every day. It has brought me great success and I hope it does the same for you. Try it and let me know what you think.
Netflix enthusiast, horrible speller, jiujitsu hobbyist, weekend drinker, and occasional poker player. Favorite quote is “[o]ut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”