Updated: Mar 18, 2021
All big, amazing dreams and outcomes actually have humble and small beginnings. The beauty of health, success, and life come from baby steps that were made a little at a time. The outcome or goal or tasks may seem insurmountable but one thing that has always worked for me in the midst of hardships, many responsibilities, the to-do list that keeps getting longer, etc was to write out 3 personal and 3 professional micro-goals, EVERY WEEK.
What are Micro-goals?
So, you might be thinking...why would I want to set the bar low with little and small? You might be thinking, 'I need to accomplish BIG GOALS, BIG DREAMS, BIG TASKS!' Well, yes, you will get there. I, too, have these big dreams, big goals, big hopes...big obstacles, molehills that turned into big mountains, etc emphasis on BIG. And sometimes, they are so BIG, I get stuck on the BIG and can't see around it, and at the end of it all, I felt like quitting or giving up or upset with myself because I had these big goals and dreams and at the end of the day, I wasn't going to achieve them, because I have an all-or-nothing mentality that plagues me sometimes and if I mess up once, then oh, it's all downhill from there... anyone else feel like this?
So, Micro-goals is a system where you say you are going to do something, and you make it possible and easy for you to ACTUALLY DO IT! It's not really about how small it is because this system helps you build a HABIT of focus and completion.
Write it down by hand and keep it where you can see it daily! This is so important to do. The frontal cortex of the brain is connected with the action of our hand physically writing (not typing with fingers, texting into a note) - the action of writing things down gets imprinted in our brains and actually stimulates that part of the brain in charge of decision-making. (I'm sorry, I digress... my doctor brain gets excited!) Write it where you see and look at it everyday, ie a white board, your planner, etc. Micro-goals are created weekly. (Below is a picture example of one mid-week as well as written how-to instructions).
Write down 2 or 3 Columns - titled Personal, Professional, Family. Try not to have too many columns. I started off with 2 columns.
In a list format with a check-off box next to each mini-task, write down ONLY 3 micro-goals for each column. These are 3 things you realistically know that you can get done, but you’re going to push yourself just a little bit, but not too much. Studies have shown that if you try to change one habit at a time, you have about a 70% success rate.
Examples: when I first started these micro-goals, my personal ones were walk 20 minutes 3x/week, eat a serving of veggies 2x/week, go to bed by 11PM 5x/week. My professional ones were read industry-related material for 30 minutes 3x/week, work on my website 1 hour 3x/week, talk to 3 people about my profession for that week.
Example of what my check-off boxes looked like: walk 20 min 3x/week ___ ___ ___ (imagine those lines are boxes). I would check off one box each time I did a walk. Same thing for the other micro-goals: in bed by 11PM 5x/week ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
These micro-goals are meant to be small and achievable because what we're developing is encouragement to yourself, accountability to yourself, learning to focus, and most awesomely, retraining your brain (neuroscience evidence behind this!) ...going at 1% improvement at a time.
Sometimes, I didn't get to check off all the boxes - maybe I only walked twice that week for 20 minutes. But that's okay, because the following week, you can have the same micro-goals and try again until that practice becomes a habit, or you can pick a new micro-goal for that week. But seeing what you were able to achieve as small as it was will set the course of life in big ways...just you wait! And this system will help you get better and more flexible in problem-solving, getting back on task, not getting overwhelmed, staying focused because again, this re-trains your brain, mind and actions.
BIG Things Happening...1% at a time
If you can just make a 1% improvement at a time, a 1% improvement, then another 1% improvement… guess what? Over time, probably in the same timeframe you’re going to get to the end goal. It’s just going to be done in a manageable, more realistic way.
Think of this Micro-goal exercise as an 'experiment'! And in my experience, if something feels hard or if I mess something up, that doesn't mean that I messed up. That doesn't mean I'm a failure. That just means it gave me data in this experiment. The more data you get, the better your end result is right.
I hope this was helpful! I wanted to start off the first blog with this topic because it is the foundation for the BIG STUFF. I still practice and come back to the system of micro-goals; they have changed in nature as my personal life and professional life changed, but they have helped me grow in ways I spoke of earlier. I have not yet arrived nor am I perfect at it, but I'm looking at the 1% improvement method to get me there !!