Do you ever write a task down on your to-do list after you’ve completed it? I caught myself doing this the other day, and feeling that little bit of satisfaction as I crossed this off my list (Here’s me randomly posing looking pretty pleased with myself, to illustrate my point).
This is one of those things that seems ridiculous on the surface, but actually makes perfect sense when you understand how your brain works.
Sometimes, we can spend a whole day getting small tasks completed, but when we come home to relax, that sinking feeling floods in, telling us that we really achieved nothing today. We didn’t reach any of our goals.
I’m sure this has happened to you too, right? You might think something like, “answering emails doesn’t count as getting things done, because I didn’t actually make any progress“. Sound familiar?
You didn’t make any progress, even though you crushed it at work, getting all the little things done that have been piling up, and getting through all of your emails? This seems counter-intuitive, but yet we all do it.
Surprisingly, goal setting could be to blame here! Why are you feeling disappointed with yourself even though you had a relatively productive day? Probably because you didn’t consider these little tasks goals in the first place. They’re just “things you have to do” (P.S. This is actually the same thing!)
It’s pretty difficult to argue against the practice of setting goals, and usually people will tell you the whole “keep them specific, with a realistic time period”, etc. etc. and you feel like this makes total sense if you want to be a success.
But, these could be hurting your productivity and your own wellbeing. If your goal was not to answer 10 emails, but instead was to produce a 50 page document full of amazing content, it’s fair to assume you’re going to come home pretty deflated, right?
So let’s switch it up – If you change this goal, and make answering 10 emails your new goal, even make answering one single email your goal for that day, things will be different.
Let’s take a look at my own to-do list for today. As you can see, nothing crazy and impossible to achieve on there, but all steps in the right direction!
These mini-achievements make us feel validated, that we deserve to feel good about ourselves because we reached these mini-goals. This leads to every day feeling like a success, which is what I want you to work towards.
In 2003, King & Burton studied goal setting in more detail, and found that goals should really only be “moderately important” and “fairly easy” (so nothing unattainable here). They also said that goals shouldn’t really implicate finances on a grand scale, as this often pushes people towards negative and extreme behaviours in order to get what they want.
Obviously, if you’re dedicated to achieving something that’s awesome, and I am proud of you for your determination and drive! But, you can still achieve these things by breaking down the process and focusing on the mini-wins, committing to achieving even one thing every day.
This way, you won’t be left feeling worthless and inadequate, if you don’t complete the mountain of tasks you’ve set for yourself. Also, you won’t be so focused on one goal that you are pushed towards these negative thinking patterns and behaviours, and neglect your family and friends, burning bridges all around you, because you are focused. This is not the mark of a sustainable career as an entrepreneur.
Other experts like Schweitzer & Ordonez (2009) have found that when people do set these unattainable goals, they often will lie to make up the difference between the original goal and what they actually achieved.
So, a lot of the time, we put all this effort in to reaching a certain milestone, we don’t actually make it, but then we lie about making it…(scratches head..). When you lay it out like that, the logic doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Like I mentioned at the start of this post, if you know how your brain works, this will all make a lot of sense. But most of us weren’t taught this stuff in school, so it’s okay not to know! That’s what this system and methodology is here for!
In plain English, your brain wants to keep you safe, and protect you from any change. So, goals which require your brain to go above and beyond its comfort zone will send up red flags automatically to your brain, and resist the change.
That’s why sometimes, even when things are going well, we sabotage and stop ourselves from moving forward – to avoid discomfort and to avoid change.
Now, this is not to say you should never go outside of your comfort zone, but your brain works in a seek reward/avoid discomfort way, so this process of breaking your goals down into mini-goals, or mini-wins, allows you to move forward without this fear of failure that so often cripples us.
You’ll also learn to understand what types of mini-goals you can set on a given day. If you’re feeling productive, increase the number of mini-wins you’re aiming for. But if you wake up and things aren’t going to plan, take one mini-win and focus on achieving this, letting anything else act as a bonus!
When you start to see the results of your mini-wins, you feel encouraged and this leads to more action on your part to achieve more, in a steady, sustainable way. This prevents you as an entrepreneur becoming overwhelmed and discouraged as you stare at the mountain you have to climb.
The problem with trying to climb this mountain is that when you “fail” at achieving a goal which was probably next to impossible to achieve anyway, you go back to the start of that mountain, but you now have to drag along with you those feelings of being a failure, not being smart enough or attractive enough, or whatever those are for you.
So, don’t allow yourself to feel unworthy of success. Instead, make success as easy as possible through breaking goals down into mini-wins, and start making the climb. But climb hills with a backpack instead of mountains with a suitcase. You can make that choice, just as you can choose which way to move towards success.
Photo Credit: Rockymountainreader.com
Jump in to our Facebook group, and let us know your mini-wins for today. You can join us here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/mindsteinsystemfreegroup