Why You Should Make Your Goals Small

Sure, dream big, but when it comes time to actually do something, make your goals small.  Small goals are attainable goals, but they can lead to something big.  Here’s a simple process for achieving your goals.

WE’RE ALL dreamers and dreamers tend to dream big.  Reach for the sky, reach for the stars, and if you fall short, you’ll have the moon. Etc.

Au contraire: I say, reach for what’s just beyond your reach, but in the direction you wish to go.  Make your goals small.

If you’re the 1% of us who has been able to accomplish any goal you’ve set your mind to, then please let us know in the “Comments” section below, and I’ll be pleased for you to guest post a rebuttal to this article.

For the remainder of you, the 99% of which I’m a member, this post is for you, and I say again:

“Make goals that are small, but in the direction you want to go.”

The reason I make this assertion is simple and empirically obvious: the overwhelming majority of us do not achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

Think about it.  How many of the goals you made last New Years happened?  Not many? None? If so, why not?

There will be a lot of excuses that you’ll conjure to address the “why not” query, but I bet one common thread is that they were simply too big.

A goal is considered too big when it’s simply too tough to reasonably achieve.  It can be to costly, too time consuming, require others’ participation, technically challenging, physically taxing, or emotionally draining. The simple thing to say about it is that — given who you are and the circumstances of your goal-wining capabilities — a goal with these attributes is just too BIG.


Make your goals small

Not so small that they’re not at all challenging, for if not challenging, you won’t value their attainment, and may therefore not even do the things that are completely in your power to do.

The idea is make the goal something that meet these four conditions:

  1. You are clear you want it,
  2. You know you can achieve it,
  3. You are willing to do what’s necessary, and
  4. You value the outcome.

Take losing 50 pounds for example.

You may be 50 pounds overweight, it may be causing all sorts of problems in your life, and you may desperately want to shed that weight.

But what I’m saying is that losing 50 pounds is not your goal.

It’s too big.

It probably took years to gain that weight through an assortment of activities, propensities, emotionally charged stuff and habits.  And it’s precisely these big entrenched reasons that make losing 50 pounds too big of a goal.

You need to choose a set of goals, each within your reach, because otherwise nothing will happen.  You’ll “fail” before you even really get started, for the hill was simply too steep to climb.

Make each goal small and make sure they comport to the four conditions cited above.


Make sure your small goals are in the direction you want to go

Rather than making losing 50 pounds your goal, get clear on, say, ten small goals that line up along the road, step by step, to losing 50 pounds.

Your first goal is one of ten.  Once that’s locked and loaded, your next goal is number two of ten, and so on.

You can put all ten on paper.  You an examine them to ensure that they all are stepping blocks along the road you wish to travel that takes you where you wish to go.  But once that’s done, the only goal is the first one… put the rest aside for now.

So, continuing with the “50 pound” example, you do your homework and determine the 10 things both meet the four conditions and are accretive, meaning one adds to the other to bring you where you want to go.

Perhaps you come up with these 10 small goals:

1. Walk for 15 minutes each day, adding two minutes each week.

2. Eat only two wheat-based food servings each day, reducing to one after two weeks.

See Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

3. Stretch for 10 minutes upon awakening for two weeks, 15 minutes thereafter.

(Find your stretches at www.mobilitywod.com)

4. Reduce the milk/cream in the coffee by half for two weeks, one quarter thereafter.

5. Do 10 minutes of calisthenics each day for two weeks, 15 minutes thereafter.

(Here are 50 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.)

6. Consume 30 grams of protein within the first half-hour of arising.

7. Stop eating at 10:00 PM week one, 9:00 PM thereafter.

8. Drink four 8 ounce servings of water/day week one, six week two, eight thereafter.

9. Take an omega-3 and Vitamin D supplements each day. I get most of my supplements from:
ProHealth10. Practice gratitude. Each evening before sleep spend at least two minutes citing those things for which you’re grateful. This can make you more mindful, and being more mindful helps keep you on point with your goal.

{Hey, if you think this list is lame, but improving health is your aim, consider Dr. Hyman’s Ten Simple Tips That Will Change Your LifeAll of these are science-driven, meaning that they work to dramatically improve health, particularly if you’re going nutty from some chronic ailment.}

Notice what each of this list of ten have in common. Two things:

1. They’re small goals, not BIG, and are therefore attainable; and

2. They’re  accretive, meaning that one builds on the other.

As you pursue your small goals, each week, you’ll get that sense of accomplishment as you make progress, because the hill you chose to climb didn’t require crampons and thunder thighs.

Soon, many of us will be making those New Year Resolutions.  Wouldn’t it be mighty fine if this time we kept some of them?

Over and out.

Last Updated on February 27, 2022 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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