Setting incremental challenges to achieve your goals

Georgia Pascoe
Georgia Pascoe
  • Updated

There is no escaping it - getting things done by setting goals is the corporate norm. Hundreds of studies in numerous countries have confirmed the power of goals. All too often these goals are arbitrary - grow revenue to $20 billion by 2020. Pick a number, make a plan. This strategy gives us a big target to aim at but is unlikely to motivate anyone.


Goal setting done right.

In The power of moments by Chip and Dan Heath, the authors propose a new strategy. Break your goal down into a series of incrementally more challenging tasks on route to your main goal. The first step is to ask yourself what motivates me? What would be worth celebrating?


To give you a concrete example lets take a standard personal development goal.

In 12 months time, I want to be in a leadership role, managing 5 people.

So far, so S.M.A.R.T.

In this context you could break that down into the following steps:

  1. Sign up for an extracurricular activity that puts you in a leadership position. This could be volunteering at an industry event or organising a team outing.

  2. Put together a short course or detailed presentation on a specific area you know well but others in your team are struggling with. This could be a common task, updated technology or new legislative requirement.

  3. Get involved in a mentoring scheme and carve out time each month meet up with a mentee. The best way to learn is to teach someone else.

  4. Apply for a leadership role and talk them through your journey. By this point, you will have a range of leadership experiences where you’ve demonstrated your abilities.

Figuring out what you want is the biggest challenge and a blank page is always hard to look at. At this point it's worth considering that you're unlikely to achieve all the goals you set and that's okay. Your priorities will shift and your perspective is likely to change but a solid goal gives you a direction to head towards.

Next Steps

You've outlined the goal and put some thought into a series steps. Consider what the main barriers are to achieving each of them. How could a mentor assist you with these specific problems? Mentor's like everyone else respond best to a tight brief. The more specific you can be, the more likely you are to have positive results.

Footnotes and extras.
If you’re keen to read more on the power of setting incremental challenges take a look at Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb.




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