setting small goals

At the end of last year, I set some big goals for 2014. I was motivated and excited, and then... I was in my third trimester, I was completely exhausted, I had our son and I was more exhausted. Yikes. When Owen was one month old (two months ago), I'd regained some energy and gotten my feet back under me, so I decided to dive back into my goals. For the last couple of months I've been diligently using Lara Casey's Powersheets to help me set and keep track of small goals, all of them with the bigger picture in mind. It's been interesting and rewarding to tick things off the list each day and week. As I sat down last weekend to go through June's goals and reevaluate for July, I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment. I'd done a lot of what I set out to do in June, which is awesome. But I also felt a bit frustrated. As I looked back over my big goals, the ones I set six or seven months ago, I felt pretty bummed. Most of them still seem so far away, and I found myself feeling pretty defeated. The reality is that my days right now are not my own. They're filled with the demands of raising a toddler and a newborn and trying to get some work down in the wee hours of the morning and late into the night. But that doesn't change the fact that I have dreams and ideas and things I hope to do - some of them big! How will it all get done? When will it all get done?

It's hard for me to take a deep breath and relax when I get worked up about these things, but that's exactly what I'm having to do - sometimes multiple times a day. I'm also having to remind myself that everything I hope to do doesn't have to get done today, or even this week, this month or this year! I've been setting small goals for each day and week and checking many of them off for the last couple of months, and that's something. The big goals may seem impossible right now, like do a half Ironman or prep for the move back east. But since I know those are goals I have for six months or a year (or more) out, I'm able to do little things daily or weekly now to start working toward those bigger goals. And while those small goals, like go through the office closet this week or complete a couch to 5K program this month, might seem insignificant to me right now, they're necessary! Rome wasn't built in a day, and after having a baby, it's going to take awhile to be able to run another half marathon. But who cares how long it all takes, as long as I'm doing a little bit each day or month to work toward those big things?

Indeed, when I look at those lists of small goals, I need to see them as stepping stones toward something larger. But they're also accomplishments in and of themselves. They're helping me create and establish habits and patterns which will, in the long run, benefit my health, my family and my work. I've been thinking a lot about one of my best friends - the one who recently graduated from nursing school. As of this week, she's been offered a job and she's passed her board exam (yay!). But that process started five years ago with her enrolling in prerequisite classes like Chemistry at the tiny community college in the town where our husbands were stationed at the time. I'm sure it was humbling, and I'm sure her big goal seemed really far away. But here we are, five years later, and she did it! All of those small goals (get an "A" in anatomy, apply to nursing programs, etc.), once accomplished, added up to something really big: a new career that's going to make a massive difference in her life and in the life of her family. That's something.
Do you set small goals? Do you get bogged down by the big picture like me?! I'd love to hear your thoughts and any advice you have on staving off discouragement.

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3 comments:

  1. Oh I love hearing about your experiences with goals and PowerSheets. Obviously.
    The best thing that has helped me in my goal-setting journey (besides, uh, starting to actually set goals) is to use 30 minutes in my morning routine to set up my three MITs (http://zenhabits.net/purpose-your-day-most-important-task/). That way I have a bit of focus. It's hard to focus on twelve or six months at a time, but it's more than manageable to focus on a day. A day I can do. Even better? The hours before lunch time. I try get those MITs completed before then, or a chunk of them. That way I feel accomplished every single day, even when my MITs are just "respond to one email" or "write blog post header".

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    1. I'd never heard of this MIT concept (have I been living under a rock?). I sent your link to my husband and he was like "I think this will change my life." Um, seriously. I love this, and I'm SUCH a creature of habit and routine, so this is something I could absolutely build into my mornings. I'm so with you - the big goals are so daunting, and I've found it really helpful to just have little things I'm doing each day to "get there." I'm right there with you on the small, daily, goals. I have a couple that I try to do each day, but this concept of writing three or two or one each morning and making sure I get that done? Totally brilliant. I'll let you know how it goes!

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    2. Woo hoo. It certainly changed my life.

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