Little Steps-Big Steps

Goals and Life (47/365)
Image by Simon Hua via Flickr

“So what kind of day did you have?” I asked a friend today.

“It wasn’t a day of big things; it was a day of little things”, he said.

The conversation I had with my friend spawned the idea to write this article.  While setting goals is great, it is very easy to forget that little steps ultimately lead to the bigger leaps that we try to take. Goal setting is absolutely necessary and many of us recognize the need to set goals because it gives us motivation to attain something.

Dr. Edwin Locke, pioneer of goal setting research not only highlighted the importance of setting goals that were difficult, but also emphasized the importance of setting specific goals. For a long time now, I have been preoccupied-like most of us-with the fact that it would be great to lose weight and have set and reset my weight loss goals multiple times. It is only when I implemented Locke’s theory, by specifying the steps necessary, with time frames, accompanied with realistic health and exercise plan, did I begin to see the results. And  No! I am not going to show you my before and after pictures,kind of show,  but I did lose a modest  15 pounds. A feat I had never before been able to accomplish.

You see it is not the big step – as important as that is-that I needed to take, it was the little and specific steps I needed to take in order to accomplish the big ones. Locke goes on to state that the more difficult your goal is, the harder you work (dah!) and therefore the better you perform. So what happens if you set difficult goals that you cannot achieve? That is why being realistic is important.

Know your strengths and your weaknesses, and then set goals that match what you can do.

The little steps are as important as the big ones you take.

I have been trying to implement this theory in my life since I got let go in my job. I realized that I needed to be working on putting out a newer, smarter, improved version of myself by the time I got my next job. I outlined the big goal which was to be a writer, and start my own business as well. I then outlined my little steps that would get me there. These consisted of educating myself on the ins and outs of my business idea and getting to know my niche market, honing my writing skills, listening and participating in discussions that would help me grow and finally, taking an active interest and giving my best performance in the little things that would ultimately lead to the big ones.

So while you are thinking of all the things you want to accomplish. Think of the little things you will need to accomplish to realize the big ones. Come up with challenging and realistic goals then specify what you will need to do in order to realize your big goal. Have enthusiasm for the little steps and constantly review your steps to see if they are accomplished satisfactorily to fit the bigger picture you have in mind.

5 thoughts on “Little Steps-Big Steps

  1. I often like to joke that everytime the African American community seems to be making positive strides towards breaking down some of the negative stereotypes attached to them, someone from their community comes along and does something to reinforce the very same stereotype that many others have worked so hard to eliminate. It is then that i remember that life is about taking baby-steps in order to accomplish the bigger steps.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from the American astronaut Neil Armstrong who upon becoming the first man to set foot on the moon said “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This words always seem to resonate with me for they remind me that while it is good to set big goals, it is often not possible or realistic to accomplish those big goals with just one big leap. It is for this reason that we would all be well adviced to appreciate the small steps we take in our daily lives as we seek to accomplish that big goal.

    Hopefully, by taking those little steps in life, I will one day awaken to find that my little steps added up to a big step. So i leave you with a famous Swahili proverb that says “Haba na haba hujaza kibaba” which translates to “Little by little, fills the pot.”

  2. Hello there.

    I can understand the relevance of setting specific goals. When we do this, we are already taking a step in defining what we want, which we would leave out if we didn’t set a specific goal. Although I do see the positive potential from setting a specific goal, I have done a bit better by heading in a direction more than through heading towards a specific outcome. We may all be different in the methods that work for us.

    I know I can go step-by-step, so that gives me procedural strength.

    That comment about putting out a newer smarter version of yourself for your next employment is an interesting one. It will be you version 2.0“

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