It is easy to get so bogged down in all there is to do that we fail to see that we’re making progress. Like running a long race, if you are only concerned with the finish line, it may seem unattainable. But when you celebrate the short-term triumphs, it can shift your focus and help you finish strong.
For instance, when running a half marathon, if you only think about the 13.1 mile finish line, it’s easy to feel like there’s no way you can make it to the end. But when you shift and concentrate on making it to the first 5K (3.1 miles), then at the next 5K (6.2 miles) you are almost halfway through. Cheer when you hit one more 5K (9.3 miles) and it’s just a few more miles till you finish. Success!
What if you approached projects at work or home that way? Launching that new product line or remodeling your kitchen may seem like unattainable goals but when you set milestones along the way and celebrate finishing those, then the energy boost can help push you toward that goal quickly. All of a sudden it’s just a few more steps to be done!
The most effective way to set milestones is to look at your project realistically, knowing that there will always be issues and problems that will slow the process down. What I like to do is decide when each step could be completed in a perfect world, and then add a buffer of time. In some cases, you may need to back the process up from the ideal finish date.
Once you have decided on these smaller goals, then start working toward the first one without putting extra pressure on yourself about all the other things still to be done. Just focus on the first milestone. When you achieve that, do a little happy dance, throw some confetti, and turn your focus to the next milestone. See how much better that is?
It is helpful after each milestone to look out over the entire plan, make any necessary adjustments, and the draw your focus back to that next goal. In other words, take a look at the forest, but then refocus on that one tree. Before you know it, you’ll be doing another happy dance and getting closer to your final goal.
What milestones and small victories can you celebrate on your way to your big goal?