One Bite at a Time

It’s easy to get frustrated early when you’re trying to make headway on any long-term goal–no matter how confident and ambitious you feel when you get started. That’s a recipe for defeatism, and avoiding it requires a system for patiently breaking down your biggest objectives into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

Yearly To-Dos

Yearlong goals need to be big. Big enough to make you uncomfortable–to scare you, even. That’s when you’ll know they’re worth tackling. So sit down and think hard about the biggest things you’d like to accomplish by this time next year. Just be as specific as you can. You just need to figure out the “what” at this stage, not the “how.”

Monthly To-Dos

When you’re pursuing a big goal, the only way to avoid getting full early and pushing your chair away from the table is to be able to see the progress you’re making. That’s why you’ve got to focus all your energy in one spot. So pick out one aspect of your yearly goal that you can realistically accomplish in a month.

Your Weekly To-Dos

But don’t get ahead of yourself. You’ve still got to break your month down into a weekly action plan. Set another recurring reminder to sit down and to sketch out a few weekly action steps you can accomplish in seven-day intervals–and write this down, too. The main thing is make sure you’ve got a few definitive action steps to focus on each week. As you move from week to week, month to month, you’ll get a feel for what’s overly ambitious vs. realistic.

Your Daily To-Dos

Now you’re ready for the “one bite at a time” part. By now you’ve done so much preparation that your daily to-do list practically writes itself. But you still need to set aside time for it. So every morning (or evening), spend a few minutes drafting up your top goals for the day ahead. It’s easy to see how your work today is connected to your weekly goals, which are connected to your monthly goals, which are connected to your yearly goals. This means that you don’t have to worry that you aren’t spending your time well. You’re doing everything you need to, when you need to.

Summing-up: Funneling your big-picture goals into daily action steps simply feels good. It’s gratifying to know that you’re a human being who is capable of making real, measurable headway on really ambitious projects despite whatever setbacks may befall you.

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