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Goal Setting With Micro Goals: How Little Goals Can Make a Big Difference

Setting and achieving big goals can be intimidating. Sure, we accomplish things all the time, but how frequently do you track your progress in a systematic way? Enter micro goals.

Backing up for a second, many people fail at reaching their goals because they aren’t able to connect what they are doing right now to where they see themselves in the future. Reaching your goals is often harder than it seems. If you’re struggling to stay motivated and disciplined, we recommend giving micro goals a chance.

What are micro goals?

Micro goals force you to prioritize your macro (or short-term and long-term) goals into small, actionable steps. A micro goal is about right now. 

They are very specific action steps and task-oriented goals that help you achieve your bigger goals. To you, they might look like a to-do list. You’re focusing on a very specific task at hand that will give you momentum and propel you forward to reaching your other goals.

Micro goals shift the focus to physical and actionable steps you can take immediately. They push you through a task that you need to complete in order to reach your larger goals.

Micro Goals vs Short-Term Goals vs Long-Term Goals

Here is an example of how micro goals compare to short-term and long-term goals:

Long-term goal: Say you’re trying to lose 10 pounds. You can envision yourself looking at the scale and seeing a smaller number, but what are you going to do to get there?

Short-term goal: If you’ve broken up your long-term goal into short-term goals, you’ve probably written down something along the lines of “workout 30 minutes a day for 5 days per week.”

Micro-goal: Run for one minute right now. Then do it again.

Navy Seals and Micro Goals

If you’ve heard of micro goals before, it might be through an example of the Navy Seals. They are usually credited with the term. For them, it is about survival to get through Hell Week (a week used to evaluate mental and physical strength). The candidates are pushed through these challenges with only one hour of sleep each night.

Micro goals for them is about focusing on the immediate task in front of them. They need to finish breakfast. Then they have to run one mile. They need to climb one wall. Of course, these will doesn’t *just* involve one mile, but by getting through that one mile, they are closer to reaching their goal of completing the week successfully.

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How To Determine Your Micro Goals

1. Work backwards to tie your micro goals to your long-term goals.

Start with your long-term goals to create short-term goals. Once you’ve established these, you can set a “complete by date.” Work backwards on your calendar to map out your short term goals.

Once you’ve established those, your micro goals are up to you. Getting through the first task to complete your daily goal. Get through

2. Make a to-do list everyday with your short-term goals.

You might not be the kind of person that needs to write down their goals, but having a clear idea of what you need to accomplish on a daily basis will keep you on track.

3. Consider what you can do right now to reach one of your daily goals.

I’m talking what you can do right this literal second. All of those tiny actions, especially if they are repeated, will add up. Getting through one minute of running or doing on simple task will put you one step closer to checking something off of you to-do list.

Do this everyday, and soon enough, you’ll reach your long-term goal.

How To Be Successful With Micro Goals:

Micro goals aren’t just a “set it and forget it” type of thing. They are what motivates you to accomplish each task that will help you achieve your goals.

1. Stay focused on one goal.

Don’t get distracted. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that we’re more effective when we multi-task, however, when it comes to building momentum to reach our goals, this is just simply not the case.

Stay focused on the task at hand and don’t get distracted. Turn your one minute micro goal into a laser-focused five minutes and see what you can accomplish.

2. Evaluate your goals frequently.

Make sure your daily goals are on track with your long-term goals. If they’re not, your micro goals won’t be getting you closer to reaching that long-term goal. Review your daily goals on a weekly basis to ensure you’re making the appropriate moves to reach your long-term goals.

3. Break it up into manageable segments.

Micro goals are all about what you can manage in a micro amount of time. It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.

For example, if your goal is to read 12 books a year. That’s about 20 pages per day. If you’re not used to reading that amount, focus on getting through one page. And then the next one. And then the next. Before you know it, you’ll have met your daily goal. And when you finish one book, focus on the next. One page a time.

Micro goals can be an extremely effective method of goal setting to not only keep you on track but keep you motivated. Setting goals in a systematic way helps ensure that we will be successful in reaching them. Start using this method today — you might be surprised at the results!

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.