To Reach Big Goals, You Need Small Habits


I recently read a meme that went something like this: “If you read 20 pages a day, you would have read 30 books in a year.”

How often do we see the big goal, the big picture of what we want, start off with the energy of “Go big or go home”, then somewhere between starting and the second day, we become so overwhelmed by our own goal that we give up?

Tell me that you’ve never uttered words similar to:

“I need to save X amount of money in two years.”

“I need to lose Y amount of weight in 12 months.”

“I need to gain Z amount of experience in 6 months.”

Before the self-imposed deadline is reached, we stop and then become disappointed with ourselves because it doesn’t happen. We look at our bank account after a month and are despondent because we’ve not reached X. We weigh ourselves after a week and do not understand why we’ve not lost Y. We judge ourselves after a day because we’ve not gained Z amount of experience.

What’s wrong with the story?

We try to match our big goal to a smaller time frame then cannot work out why it’s not making sense. We are inconsistent in our approach and do not create smaller goals to match our shorter time frames.

I had a goal to read 20 books for the year. After three months, though, I had only read three books and was about to give up. I only had nine months to read 17 books, and given the current track record, I wasn’t going to reach 20, so why bother continuing?

Then it clicked. I was so focused on the wanted result that I wasn’t paying attention to the beginning, the middle, or anything else in between. If I changed my approach and made smaller goals that were more consistent, I’d feel closer to my big goal. Twenty pages a day compared to 17 books in nine months sounded and felt more palatable.

Working towards your goal a little every day is a part of your big goal. With this in mind, think of it as creating a new habit. In order to achieve something, we need to make a change somewhere. In order to change something, we need to work on it every day. This equals a new habit. And that equals getting closer to your end goal daily.

Think big. Do small.