I get emails on a regular basis from people who say they’re frustrated because they haven’t gotten what they want out of their career. They insist that they’ve put in “a lot of time” and nothing seems to happen. It’s not a matter of whether or not they’re failing to do what they’re setting out to achieve. It’s the fact that they believe they can go from A-to-Z without going through all the letters in between.
We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm. Click a button and, BAM, whatever you needed is at your fingertips. Well, sadly, life and careers don’t work that way.
The Importance of Goals
Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do when planning your career path and attempting to set yourself up for success. Unfortunately, most people only focus on goals from a macro level, meaning they set one large goal, and never put in goals at a micro level, which help build towards the former. Let’s take a look at a scenario…
Macro vs Micro
A few years ago I set out run a half marathon; something I never thought I’d be able to do. The thought of running 13.1 miles was scary as hell, and I knew I needed help. While I was planning out how I was going to get there I ran across the Hal Higdon training app. This app promised to get you ready for a half marathon in as little as 12 weeks.
The program didn’t focus on running all 13.1 miles at once. Instead it gave you a weekly running schedule with smaller goals, which increased in distance over time. At the beginning of week 1 you start with a 3 mile run (you can alternate walking and running) and by the end of 12 you’re running 10 miles without breaking a sweat. Ok, you sweat a little, but still… 10 MILES!
The reason this program is successful is that it keeps you focused on the smaller (micro) goals. You’re not worried about running a half marathon until the actual day you run the half marathon. All you’re worried about is hitting your daily goals, which are upped at such a gradual pace that you don’t even notice the progress you’re making.
I ran that half marathon and it was one of the proudest moments of my life; not by running and gunning; but slowly stepping my way up a mountain, carefully calculating each step, and only moving up when I was ready.
That’s what you have to do in your life and career. Set your ultimate goal, and don’t lose sight of it, but push it as far back in your mind as you can until the day comes when it’s time to grab it. Set small goals for yourself along the way that move you forward towards that goal. That’s the key. Never stop moving forward! Ultimately you’ll get where you’re trying to go, but you’ve got to keep your head down and focused.
Learn to let the micro help you achieve the macro!