How Setting Small Goals Can Help You Achieve Bigger Ones

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Making a list of things to do each day (or week or month) and checking off items you have accomplished may sound like just another thing to do. When done properly, keeping a tally of completed tasks can help you work more efficiently and offer you small emotional rewards to keep you motivated.

Think Small to Accomplish Big Things

If all of your goals involve long-term objectives or your projects are large and involved, break them down into something you can do that you can check off on a daily basis. For example, you might make a check item "work two hours on the Smith project."

Checking off items as you go helps you feel like you are actually accomplishing something and getting closer to results. Kids countdown the days to birthdays and holidays for this reason — each step (day) that brings them closer to their goal offers some tiny emotional reward.

Measuring progress in steps is the most effective way to quit smoking or to lose weight. Smokers are not told to focus on quitting for the rest of their lives but to count one day at a time as a success. Dieters are told not to focus on the overwhelming task of having to lose large amounts of weight — a daunting task that can cause some to give up before even trying, and so are instead encouraged to focus on losing the first five pounds, and then another, and another.

If you are having trouble meeting certain goals, do not let your negativity take over because you are simply looking at a picture too large to feel anything but defeated; this will only cause you to feel even more ineffective and less powerful. Instead, look at your goals which may simply be too big or unrealistic. Create a new item(s) on your list that you can accomplish. Rather than focusing on shortcomings and failures reassess your goals and steps to make them more realistic and easier to accomplish.

Getting the Little Things out of the Way Can Offer Big Emotional Rewards

Getting the little things out of the way can help you focus better on the larger tasks at hand When you let little things (like returning phone calls) pile up you will begin to feel overwhelmed when all those little things have suddenly combined into one big thing to deal with.

Think about letting the laundry pile up for a week — a couple of pairs of socks does not amount to much by themselves, but when combined with a week's worth of shirts, pants, towels, etc., your one small laundry load turns into two or three you have to deal with.

Try to get one thing you dislike doing or that has been pressing on your mind out of the way early in your day. Then you don't have to deal with it weighing on you and you can more easily move onto the next project. An added plus: you will feel really good about accomplishing something you didn't want to do. Remember, we all need certain psychological boosts and emotional rewards to feel good about ourselves, others, and the things that we do.

In the business world, kudos, praise, and thanks often go without being said. Setting goals and then accomplishing them is a good substitute because it will help you feel better about yourself and the world around you.