It always takes me by surprise. When I give my presentation on “how to get a mental six-pack,” I ask the audience, so what’s your biggest takeaway? In my mind, I’m thinking it’ll be something like “I didn’t realize we have to master our biology in order to change” or “now I have a model for mapping out the stress factors in my office dynamics.” But no. The single most popular takeaway is that we have to set “micro goals: “That the best way to accomplish anything of significance is to start ridiculously small.
Why is the concept of micro-goals such a revelation?
Is it because we’re so overwhelmed by how much we have to do that we forget we can only do one thing at a time? Or is it because it’s a relief to have “permission” to take action that isn’t that impressive?
The thing is, “all-or-nothing” thinking creates a wall of inertia. Micro-goals help break through that wall. When you’re trying to move a stalled car, you don’t try to push it 100 feet all at once, you start with an inch and then two. Then momentum kicks in and it actually becomes easier to keep moving forward than to stop.
One client told me he wanted to make five sales — and he was thinking of it as ONE thing. “That’s starting way too big,” I said. “You need to break it down into micro-goals. Make a list of people to contact: that’s one thing. Decide which person you’re going to contact first, that’s another thing. Find their email address, that’s the third. Now bullet point what you want to say in the email. Send the draft email to a colleague to get their feedback. Send the email to the person.” Six micro-goals that he was lumping together as one intimidating goal that was causing more massive procrastination than massive action.
He was amazed. “I never would have thought of breaking it down that way,” he said. And in my experience, even when people understand the concept, they still aren’t able to come up with specific micro-goals on their own.
That’s why I developed the “21 Days to a Mental Six-Pack” program. It synthesizes many of the behavioral concepts that you’re familiar with into short (less than five minutes per day!) readymade mental training exercises that you can practice and integrate into your daily routine to stay focused on what’s important, communicate more effectively and feel more confident in your ability to handle challenges. Check it out here.