It’s Better To Set Smaller Goals (And Achieve Them)

Stack Of Rocks Representing Smaller Goals

Sometimes goals are too big. That’s why I like the concept of inch pebbles and milestones – we all know what a milestone is, a big achievement. Getting married! Graduating high school! Learning To Walk! These are milestones.

But what about those inch pebbles – those small incremental steps we take, day after day, moment after moment that leads to the milestone? You can’t move miles without moving inches. 

Inch pebbles aren’t what you put on Instagram; no one talks about the 87th sit-up, it’s the 100th one that we celebrate.

I like to celebrate the moments in between. Those unsung heroes of forward motion.

Is there a moment that you can celebrate right now? Of course there is. Think back to the moments between waking up and reading this email – what did you do? Did you get to the gym? Get your kids off to camp? Eat a healthy lunch? Take a breath before responding to a snarky email?

You had wins. You know you did. And if you’re hard pressed to think of something, I’ve got one for you: You chose to read this note. You chose to check in with your pal Al, see what she’s up to these days and see if you had anything to learn from it. So good on you. Now think of one more.

It seems that people have a tendency to set goals that are too big. Don’t just do great work, run the company. Don’t just run the company, take it public. Don’t just take it public, gobble up other companies until you achieve WORLD DOMINATION! 

For what? What are you leaving in your wake? Good relationships, your children, your spouse? Your mom or dad? You’re missing the little moments, and instead of smelling the flowers you’re running over them. Go have that ice cream cone on the boardwalk, cannonball into the pool during a heatwave. Get off the phone.

My clients tell me this is the marrow of life.

If you set a smaller goal – like, “This summer I want to watch one sunrise,” I bet you’ll really enjoy that sunrise. Maybe you’ll watch a second one. But no matter, it’s in the enjoying of the sunrise that you find…

you find…

you find….

What exactly?

What does one find in a sunrise? Beauty, peace, change, color, light, the potentiality of a new day.

If you set smaller, reasonable goals, then you’re more likely to achieve them. If you set big goals and don’t achieve them, you feel disappointed. If you overlook the inch pebbles, you overlook the opportunity to celebrate the small wins that lead to larger ones.

Folks familiar with recovery know the saying, “One day at a time.” Doesn’t that feel gentle, easy? For those in recovery, it can be very difficult. This minute is difficult, this hour excruciating. And yet, it’s far easier than thinking of this month, this year, this lifetime.

One day at a time. Inch pebbles lead to milestones. Ease, contentment, achievement. You can do this.

Are you working on any goals right now? Is there a small win that you can set for this week, or better yet, today? One little thing – hug your partner, do 10 minutes of meditation, maybe … masturbate? (I’m not kidding, this is an actual client goal! Feel free to borrow it.)

One little thing. One inch pebble. Can you give yourself the gift of doing one thing today…and the contentment that comes with it.

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