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Forget big goals. Take baby steps for small, daily wins.

Take these ’baby steps’ to attain progress and attain your goals.
By John Brubaker |
Forget big goals. Take baby steps for small, daily wins.

If you are already starting to get discouraged when it comes to your 2015 goals, be reminded that it’s not too late and you’re not alone.

This is the month of year when most of us reflect on what really stops us from going after exactly what we want. We look at where we get stuck and the underlying issues why. When people get stuck, it is usually for two primary reasons:

1. They don’t have a simple, actionable system or strategy to use.

2. They’re afraid of putting themselves out there. Why? Fear of failure and fear of criticism.

Both things erode their confidence and hold them back so they get discouraged and quit. It’s pretty common: people not taking the right actions because they couldn’t see where they’re headed.

Related: Stop thinking long term. Execute strategy 90 days at a time.

Taking baby steps

Generally we all have a desire for success to not be that hard. Whether it’s success in losing weight, learning a new skill, or growing a business, the fundamentals remain the same. There’s a solution, a simple yet powerful way of looking at your growth through a different lens. The one primary motivator that leads us to persevere is baby steps.

The media and our instant-gratification society tend to sensationalize experts and famous people as overnight successes. In reality these overnight successes are thousands of nights in the making, and they got there by taking countless baby steps.

Sometimes looking at the big picture and all the phases involved can be daunting. Much like the benefits of frequent, consistent exercise have a cumulative effect on us over time, so does celebrating our small successes on a daily basis.

You can manufacture your own momentum to score a few daily wins. This is important for you to do because your confidence is either lifted up or dragged down depending on your ability to make progress. When you make progress there is something at work that psychologists refer to as goal gradient. It refers to the fact that the closer we get to something, the harder we are willing to work to achieve it.

Related: Consistency is the key to breaking bad habits and forming good ones

If you’ve ever walked your dog around the block and he speeds up as you get closer to home, you’ve seen goal gradient in action. It’s the very reason online games have different levels and rankings built into them.

Perceived progress

baby_steps_2.pngThe key isn’t just progress, its perceived progress. To a large extent we control our own job satisfaction and motivation through incremental visible progress (baby steps) in our goal setting. When we set realistic, attainable goals and create an intentional process to seek and celebrate incremental progress or success, we stand to greatly enhance our own motivation on the job. Progress drives motivation, which in turn drives greater future progress.

This is the reason why you need to ditch your big goals and focus on achieving small daily wins. A ‘goal’ is too abstract and far reaching and as a result it becomes elusive. Take these steps to reframe and redesign your goals:

1. Narrow down your big 2015 plan to one specific goal.

2. Break that big picture goal down into systematic, manageable baby steps (think daily bite sized pieces).

3. Less is more. When it comes to execution, frequency is king. Do a little a lot instead of a lot a little (small, daily progress trumps one big time block once a week).

4. Document and celebrate your daily success (no matter how small).

5. Direction is more powerful than speed.

6. Focus on progress, not perfection. Be gentle with yourself. Making mistakes is normal (you’re human).

If you’re not designing your employees' jobs (and your own) to include some small daily wins on the scoreboard, you’re hurting your results. Winning is a habit. So is losing. How are you taking baby steps to create momentum and put some small wins on your scoreboard?

Related: Who needs goals when you can develop new, good habits


Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.
  

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