Small Goals Equal Big Success

Recently while in Ecuador some friends and I took the TeleferiQo, which is a gondola that takes you up the east side of Pichincha Volcano. When it deposits you, it still leaves plenty of hiking to do. The catch was that we were above 13,000 feet and oxygen was in short supply, and we were short of breath.

This sign was one of many small goals we set as we hiked.

This sign was one of many that we identified. Reaching it became a small goal.

We saw where we wanted to get to but the distance seemed great. Rather than giving up, we set some small goals. We decided we would at least walk to the first sign that talked about the altitude. At a minimum, we deserved to know how high from sea level we were. Then we decided to make it to the trash can.

We had a series of mini goals and as we reached each one, we gasped for oxygen and cheered ourselves. Before we knew it, we had reached our final goal. Success!

Reaching those small goals kept us going. Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer address that idea in their book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work.” “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

It’s why professional organizers recommend cleaning out one drawer or one closet instead of tacking the entire room. Once you’ve experienced the success or organizing and decluttering one space, you’re ready to tackle the next one.

The same advice applies in my fitness efforts. I know how many days I should work out each week and month for my optimal fitness. Sometimes, though, I’m so worn out that the number overwhelms me. However, when I only focus on the next workout, I’m almost always able to complete it, and I feel terrific afterward. More importantly, I’m ready for the next one.

As long as I’m making progress – putting one step in front of the other – not only am I going places but I’m succeeding!

What are your small goals?