NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Little Steps are a Big Deal

Little Steps are a Big Deal  02/07/20Even though mobile apps can guide us to our destination, some folks still like to look at a roadmap, too.  I’m one of those.

Roadmaps aren’t only for traveling the highways and by-ways. They can also be used to help us reach our destination in terms of “goals.”

Creating a roadmap to reach a goal means we break down the journey toward our goal into small, manageable steps.   Having “little steps” means we have chances for little successes, and that’s a big deal! 

Having “little steps” also helps take away feelings of being overwhelmed, or feeling like it is futile to even try, when setting out to accomplish big goals.  The strategy of “little steps” also helps decrease negative feelings we might have when we are trying to change a behavior or habit we have, especially if the change wasn’t 100% our idea in the first place.

This is how it might look, for example, if the goal was to lose 30 pounds.  Losing 30 pounds is a goal that takes time, patience, and commitment. But what happens if you imagine yourself needing to travel 30 miles to a destination, and if you imagine the mile markers along the side of the road along your way?  Each mile marker would be an example of a little step or a “mini-goal” on the way to the final destination or goal. 

Now, instead of being focused on losing the grand total of 30 pounds, just think about losing one pound. 

This strategy works for financial goals, health goals, reading/education goals, etc.  Years ago, when my doctor told me I needed to drink four quarts of water each day, due to the circumstances of my high-risk pregnancy, I set a water goal for each hour of the day.  I used a permanent marker to draw hour-by-hour benchmarks on the gallon jug.  My kids were proud of me when they came home after school each day and could see that I was on schedule for my 4:00 goal.  It was a big deal for me.

The strategy of taking little steps and setting mini-goals is strategy that works for any kind of goal: financial, health, reading/education, etc. 

For example, if the financial goal is to save $1200 a year, that is $100 each month, and that can be broken down into mini-goals of saving $25 each week or about $4 each day. 

Strategies to help us reach the mini-goals, as we pursue achieving the big goals, might include things like tracking or charting our progress to increase our accountability, and identifying an action step or two that will move us toward our goal.  For example, maybe it means foregoing a designer coffee or bringing our lunch in order to save $4 a day.  

In weight loss goals, saying “no” or “not yet” to the temptation that faces us at any moment is a more helpful strategy than saying, “I will not ever again in my life ever eat another brownie.”

Every time we pass a mile marker (mini-goal) on the way to our big goal, we can celebrate the success.  This can be a big confidence-builder and source of encouragement to persist.  What a great way to enjoy the journey and reach our destination!

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/steps-staircase-climbing-1081909/ (downloaded 02/11/12)

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