Every creative blog on the internet is going to have at least one article telling you to set goals. Well, now I have one too! BUT, what I’m going to talk about is a bit more focused than “I want to be at such-and-such by such-and-such a date.” Yes, set that goal. It’s a prerequisite for everything else. But in order to get to there, you need to set hyper-focused micro goals.
What I’m about to dive into is what I’ve personally found to be the best way to keep myself on track to achieve a goal. This method has come from a lot of experimentation to see what works best for maintaining my personal creative goals. As such I am able to more consistently reach the goals I’ve set for myself. These can range in scope, but the method I’m about to lay out should help ensure you reach whatever goal you set.
Setting a large (macro) goal is a very good place to start. However, like a New Year’s resolution, often the macro goal can be pushed to the wayside without constant thought and progress. This is where the micro goals come in. By focusing on a path with checkpoints versus just the finish line, you gain more successes and more fuel to keep going to reach the end.
When I set my micro goals, I focus down to the hour of the day… “WHAT?!” you might say, how do you do that with all the requirements of being an adult? “What about my kids? What about my job? What about my FREE TIME?!” You’re not shirking any of that. What you need to do is figure out exactly when you will have the time on a DAILY basis to work towards your goal. Maybe even create a chart detailing each day of the week and what you typically have going on each day. Things obviously can change, but create a general idea of what you have going on so you can figure out exactly how much time per day you can devote to your goal. Having this knowledge will be important for the next part.
Once you know your daily schedule, set a weekly work schedule for yourself. (I specifically chose the word “work” because if you just see your goal as a hobby, it’s far easier to set it aside and forget about it.) Figure out what days you’re going to work and how many hours you can EFFECTIVELY work on those days (not piecemeal bits here and there, but when you can actually sit down and focus). It is important when figuring out your weekly work schedule to also factor in relaxing time for yourself. This is key to avoid burning yourself out. Build in a day or two for rest so you can recharge your batteries and clear the creative fog that can accumulate when one is working on something for too long. In short, you’re building a work week with a weekend.
Now that you have your weekly work schedule, look back at your main goal. Break that goal up into smaller pieces (checkpoints) that can be accomplished in a month. Now, break those pieces up into smaller pieces that can be accomplished in a week. Then break those up into daily goals. THEN go even further still and break those daily goals up into hourly goals. This might seem like too hyper-focused a level to work with, but breaking things down this far will give you more goals to reach and a greater sense of accomplishment. As humans we love to gain achievements (the video game industry realized this years ago), and the more we accomplish, the better we feel and we are all the more likely to KEEP going. So having attainable micro goals will give you constant fuel to keep working towards that finish line. Now you have your main goal, a timeline, AND built-in motivation to keep going!
One important caveat worth mentioning is be sure to set your checkpoints at a level you know you can accomplish. DO NOT try to take on more than you know you can do in a day/week/month. Setting manageable micro goals will prevent burnout. PLUS, if you end up accomplishing more in an hour/day/week, it’s just icing on the cake! If this starts happening frequently, great! At that point, however, you’ll want to re-evaluate your checkpoints so you don’t limit your productivity by making things too easy. It might seem counterintuitive, but without a certain level of difficulty, it becomes too easy to brush your micro goals off and say “I’ll get to that tomorrow.” Doing that says, on a subconscious level, your project isn’t worth your time. That sentiment can grow and lead to *gasp* goal abandonment. Your end goal is worth more than that!
So there you have it. It might seem like a lot of little bits and pieces, but those add up quickly and before you know it, you’ll have achieved your goal. Then you can move on to your next goal!
What is your goal? Let me know in the comments. Also, feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions on this.
See you all Friday!