Chip Away: Progress Over Perfection

What’s the best way to achieve your goals?

That’s a question that gets various answers but most answers fall into this category: you do it little by little.

Big goals are often intimidating. But if you break them down into small steps, they become easier, more manageable.

  • $100,000 monthly sales: you make a sale $1 at a time
  • Read 50 books a year: finish reading a book each week
  • Lose 20 lbs: lose a pound each week

It works the same for projects.

  • Want to launch an online course? Decide on a course topic first. Then you validate the idea. Then you do something else
  • Want to create a home office? Pick a place, clean the room, does it have a table, etc.

You don’t do a project and you suddenly complete it. You don’t reach your goals that way either.

You chip away at it. One small chunk at a time.

Why Breaking Your Goals Into Smaller Chunks Is Important

There’s no shortage of resources on how to do this, yet a lot of people think it doesn’t apply to them. No matter what field or industry you look at, breaking down projects into smaller milestones is always considered one of the best practices. It’s also often attributed the success of the project or meeting the goal.

The reason why a lot of people fail to achieve their goals is they don’t do this process. They want to meet their sales quotas but don’t break it down to track where they’re at against their targets.

To paraphrase my favorite consultant, Peter Drucker, “what you cannot measure you cannot manage.”

One Way to Achieve Your Goals

I read about this a few months back and started applying it. My goal was to finish reading 12 books this year. The number isn’t as big as others, but it’s my goal. I find that reading books often dive deeper into a topic and get more insights that way. That’s why I pick that as one of my goals this 2020.

Either way, I searched for a way to get some reading done and I discovered an article but I can’t remember where it’s from.

The recommendation there stuck with me and I’ve been following it religiously for several months now.

The idea is to chip away at it one small chunk at a time.

For this example, it was reading books. So, anytime there’s an idle moment, whether that’s waiting in line, getting the car refueled, or simply not knowing what to do next—I read.

It’s the same way with every other goal. You break it down and do it little by little. Instead of constantly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, which, unless it’s your job, don’t require you to do so every 5 minutes.

Instead, use those moments in time to move towards your goals.

Whether that’s writing a few words every day, or meditating more, or launching an online course, or paying off your debt. Whatever it is, the only way to achieve the outcome you want to happen is by chipping away.

Over to You

When I’m often stuck, I always follow the “next step” principle in Getting Things Done. Whenever you have a big project or goal, ask yourself, “what’s the next concrete, tangible next step?”

Meet your sales quota goal? The next step isn’t selling. It’s gathering the name and email and phone numbers of decision makers. It’s calling them or sending an email.

Want to be fit? The next step isn’t to lose the extra 5 lbs or run a half marathon. You pick up your shoes, pack your workout bag, then go do it.

Are there are goals or big projects that you’re struggling to achieve? In your personal life, or in business? Break it down into smaller chunks.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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