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How To Complete Big Goals By Doing Small Things

by James Anderson
Posted: July 14, 2016

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Please note that this is an article written by someone who is hyper-creative, but used to be (and if I’m honest, still can be) a massive procrastinator, writes health and fitness columnistJames Anderson

I’ve always had the biggest ideas but just never seemed to follow through. The sheer frustration of this caused me to understand one of life’s painful lessons - which is that all your ideas are worthless without execution. 

This new reality made me take on the challenge of “fixing” my lack of follow-through with goals. So (after first procrastinating about it for a while), I chose to read as much about goal setting as possible in the hope that it would improve my ability to follow through and execute. 

And it did. 

But for all the reading I did it can be summed up pretty easily in a couple of sentences: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.

Sounds pretty simple, right? But it’s our human nature that loves to make it hard! You see, as humans, we’re wired for two things: 

  1. Gain pleasure 
  2. Avoid pain

We’ve all developed very different associations for what is pleasure and painful based on our own highly personal experiences. For example, I used to sit down and write out big goals that excited me (i.e. a pleasurable experience. However, these amazing thoughts and dreams were quickly replaced with a sense of overwhelm, which is stressful (i.e. a painful experience), which just led me to avoid it. We’ve all been there, right? So, what should you do?   

1.    Know your “why”

Woman completing big goals in fitness, stairs

If you know why you want something, it makes it that much easier for you to achieve it. Because if you develop your why into something truly inspiring, then you’ll be far more likely to stay on track to when times are tough. 

Remember what I said before about humans always trying to gain pleasure and avoid pain? Well, if your “why” is full of enough pleasurable outcomes, then it will help outweigh the potential painful experiences that you may have to go through in order to achieve it. Make sense? 

I always know I’ve developed my “why” enough, so the “how” no longer causes me stress. I just continue to think about and map out the steps with excitement rather than fear. 

2.    Don’t rush

Take as much time as you need to ensure you’re able to properly plan out the steps, processes, time frames and deadlines. 

After all, how valuable is the goal worth to you? If it really means that much to you then it should be important enough to invest your time and energy into it thoroughly and plan its success. 

3.    Know that it won’t be a straight line to success

How to complete goals - runner taking a break

It’s important to realise from the get go, that just because you plan it out doesn’t mean it will always happen that way. Whether it’s in business, health, wealth or anything else – it’s never a straight line to success.

Just try to be flexible in your approach but unwavering in your consistent effort to move forward regardless. Mindset is always key to ensuring any goal is achieved. 

4.    “The Big 3”

Now you’ve got your plan, it’s time to start mapping out the steps into tasks that need to be done each day. This is where the “big 3” are put into place. 

These are simply three non-negotiable must-do tasks that you need to get done on that day. These are the small things that will achieve the big goal. 

Now, just to note – these things should be challenging without being overwhelming. Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew, as that can quickly send you into overwhelm. 

5.    Take action, consistently

Walking the golden labrador dog - small goals

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”. -  Confucius.

Take small, consistent, planned actions. Every. Single. Day.

It sounds boring, it is boring - but it’s what you need to do to complete goals. It sounds simple, it is simple. So don’t make it hard on yourself. 

Good Luck! 

Enjoying James Anderson's fitness, health and life advice? Read more of his articles on our Health and Wellbeing blog.


James Anderson

James is the owner of a women’s only tribe based at Bondi Beach that focuses on strength and conditioning team training for optimal outcomes and long-lasting solutions.

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