What are micro-goals? They’re the small steps you take towards achieving what I call your “big goal.” Micro-goals are often set aside and not recognized along the way towards the big goal because the entire focus is on the big goal. The loss of not recognizing the micro-goals is a loss in your progress towards the achieving the big goal. It can lead to an increase in frustration, loss of momentum, decrease in self-esteem and confidence, and at worst, the abandonment of the big goal. Let’s look at a common hypothetical scenario.
Let’s say on January 1st your big goal is to lose 20 pounds this year. You improve your diet, exercise more and get enough rest consistently for the first few months. On April 1st you’ve already lost 10 pounds. An amazing achievement. You’re actually three months ahead of the pace to achieve your big goal. But maybe you don’t recognize the achievement of this micro-goal because you’re still solely focused on the big goal.
So how do you track and celebrate micro-goals? Here’s some of the ways you can do this:
1. Set up reminders or alerts in your phone to spend 15 minutes periodically to think about your progress. If you don’t set this reminder, it’s very likely examining progress will not happen.
2. Keep a journal and create a very brief narrative of what’s been going on, ideally at least once a week, so you can see what intervening factors there may be. Just a few sentences, unless you’re inspired to write more. For example, you didn’t exercise as much this week as the previous two. A reason why could be because of the significant increased volume of work. This is a very different scenario than not exercising because you didn’t feel like it.
3. Another thing you could do with the journal is track concrete variables so you can see trends over time. In the example, the obvious one is how much weight you’ve lost. But you could also look at how many times you’re exercised, how long was each exercise session, how many days you ate healthy (However you define it), rate on a scale of 1 to 10 your energy level, etc.
4. If you’re good with spreadsheets, create one and use the data you collect to make charts for a visual representation of your progress. You could also download an app for your phone that will create these charts for you.
5. Manage your expectations so they’re realistic. Remember that change and progress are not perfectly linear. But as long as the trend is in the right direction you’re on your way.
6. Recognize the micro-goals with a small concrete reward. For example, if you’re into creating art, buy that paint brush you’re been looking at for some time.
7. Keep track of all the micro-goals and review them as a whole each time you achieve one. Not solely one micro-goal at a time.
Remember that recognizing the achievement of micro-goals will keep you on the path of achieving your big goals. Now that’s something to celebrate!