“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Lao Tzu
The above wise quote contains the secret to success that many of us don’t heed. We are told to think big and to set big goals, but the truth is that all big successes started small.
How do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time.
The same goes when it comes to reaching your dreams and achieving your goals. You have to start small.
No matter how big your goals and dreams, you need to start small.
Think about it, how do you lose 20 pounds in 60 days? The answer can be as simple as starting with eating a healthy breakfast and stop taking the supper.
How do you start a multi-million dollars business? Well, you take one step at a time. You can begin by interviewing a successful business owner.
What if your goal is to write a best-selling book? Again, the answer can be pretty simple. Just start with writing 500 words a day.
If you think that 500 words are too much to handle, start with 300 words. Eventually, you will end up with a complete book.
That’s how success is made.
So why setting small goals are important? Here are a couple of good reasons:
1. Every success is achieved through baby steps
You have to understand that every big success is achieved through numerous small steps. There is no shortcut to it.
You can’t lose 10 pounds without going through the process. Losing 10 pounds is the goal, the process is the baby steps that you need to take to get there.
2. Small goals allow you to focus better
Do you know that one of the main reasons people fail to accomplish their goals is that they often set their goals too big and too far off into the future?
It is easier to focus on what you can do today than to focus on what you can do within a year.
When you set a goal that is too far into the future, you will lose confidence, momentum, and fail to focus on it because of your circumstances and environment.
You will be distracted by everything that is happening in your life.
And this is why I strongly suggest you set your goals in a shorter time frame, such as quarterly goals.
When the deadline and the target you want to hit are shorter, you tend to be able to focus better.
3. Small and tiny goals promote action
According to a study conducted by Ran Kivetz, a researcher from Columbia University, people tend to work harder when they are closer to their goals.
Kivetz used the coffee-shop reward card to carry out his research. For every 10 purchases of coffee, the customer would get one for free. Kivetz discovered that as customers get closer to the goal of 10 coffees, they accelerated their purchase to reach the target.
Another study was also conducted on the buy 12 and get one free coffee study. This time, the reward cards started with 2 stamps that were already earned.
In other words, you will still need to collect 10 stamps to get a free coffee. Both studies were identical, but for the buy 12 and get one free that started with 2 reward stamps, customers tend to fill up their cards even faster.
This is because the customers perceived themselves as already making the progress towards the goal.
This study shows that when people see progress, they tend to work harder to reach the goal.
And this also explains why we should start with smaller goals. Smaller goals are the best approach to creating progress.
When you make progress, you feel motivated to take even more action to reach the goal.
4. They build confidence and strengthen your beliefs
I bet you have heard about the success cycle. When you set a smaller goal and you make progress. The progress or the small wins are what gives you confidence and grow your beliefs that you can do it.
And when you have more confidence, you will take even more action and make even better progress.
This is why people often say, “success begets success”.
Successful people are able to create extraordinary results in life because they tend to focus on making progress.
When they make progress, they feel good. They are confident and they build the belief that their goals are possible and that they can do it.
As a result, they take more action and make more progress.
This is how they are able to take massive action and make a lot of progress to become extraordinary.
Remember, extraordinary people are ordinary people who are willing to take do the extra work. They are the masters of baby steps because they know that in order to achieve big success, they need to master the small wins.
5. Small wins develop momentum and create habits
Another important reason to start with small goals is to develop momentum and to grow the right habit.
We all know that success doesn’t come right away. Often, it takes time to build something big.
And because it takes time, we can’t depend solely on our motivation to take action. We need to rely on habits.
When you focus on smaller goals, such as a daily goal of writing 500 words, you will turn it into a habit.
It is what you do on a consistent basis that will determine the results you get in life. People don’t become successful in a day or two, they become successful in years.
This is why developing the right habits that will get you the results are extremely vital to your success.
Thus, start with small goals. Use the power of small goals to drive you into taking action and making daily progress.
As you make progress and grow your habits, you will eventually develop the characters that you need to become more successful.
Always Start with Smaller and Short-Term Goals
You have to understand that the key to success is to take action. And to reduce your resistance in taking action, you need to start with smaller goals – goals that are so easy to do that you will just do without much motivation.
Tiny goals are not 6-month or even quarterly goals, they should be even smaller like a 5-minute target, the 1-hour, 3-hour, or a 1-day goal.
Just like what Sonia Thompson suggested in her article, start with embarrassingly small goals to make a big impact.
Sonia wanted to develop the habit of writing daily. She started with 2,000 words a day but found it to be challenging. And so she adjusted her writing goal from 2,000 words a day to just 50 words. Here’s in her own words:
The minute I adjusted my writing goal from 2,000 words a day to 50, I was able to establish my writing habit again. I could crank out 50 words in less than two minutes. And 50 words is such a small goal, there’s absolutely no reason I can’t take the time to do it each day.
But there lies the beauty of setting stupid small goals. Much of the time when I start work on doing my mini-habit for the day, I write a bunch more than the 50 words. The small goal reduces my resistance to getting started.
Then Newton’s first law of motion kicks in. Once I’m in motion, it becomes easier to stay in motion. Momentum builds, and day by day I make significant progress toward the bigger goals I’m working to achieve.
You may think that this is counterintuitive and that many gurus actually suggest you think big and set big goals.
While it is true that big goals and big dreams are motivating, it is the small actions and tiny goals that we accomplish each day that gets us to those big dreams.
I believe that we all need to have big dreams and big goals, there is no doubt about it.
However, when it comes to achieving those dreams and making progress, we need to start from the ground up. Meaning, we must start small.
This is why we break our big goals into smaller actionable steps that we can act on immediately.
So how do you complete the journey of a thousand miles? Well, you begin with one step at a time.
Ask yourself what is the one small, tiny step you can take right now to move forward. And do it now.
If you want to learn the art of setting and achieving all your goals, get Goal Setting Formula, the course that I created.