achieving expectations with micro goals

How to Reach Those Great Expectations? One Micro Goal at a Time!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

— Yogi Berra

Have you ever started building without a blueprint? Odd as it may seem, we are all guilty of doing this to some degree in many parts of our personal and professional lives.

We start relationships, jobs, education, vacations; I have even started making dinner without any expectations of where I was going to end up. Sometimes that’s good: a little bit of adventure can be just what we need to keep us going through the humdrum of day-to-day life. But I would argue that if you want to achieve success (however you want to measure that), you need to be setting expectations primarily for yourself and secondly for others around you.

  • Do you have goals?
  • Do you write them down?
  • Do you review them regularly?

I believe that setting expectations for yourself starts with setting goals. When we think of goals, we often think big. Learn a new language, climb a mountain, run a marathon, build a fortune. And while these are admirable goals, and they are certainly achievable over time, simply having a goal will not make it come to fruition. These are macro-goals, but it is what I like to call the micro-goals that allow us to achieve great things over time.

I am reminded of a children’s joke:
“How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time.”

How do we learn a new language? One word at a time.   How do we build a fortune? One dollar at a time.  And so on.

Micro Goals – Where to Start?

motivation with micro goals

Do you have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals? For me, it starts each and every morning. Before my day begins, I sit on at my desk and I take out a pen and paper. You can use digital means, but I like to write by hand, as there is something more permanent about taking pen to paper. I note down what I want to–no, strike that, what I will–achieve by the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be a big list; mine is usually between two and four tasks.

The key is that these micro-goals are, for the most part, in line with my macro-goal. Of course, not always: sometimes I have to write down to pick up dry cleaning or take the kids to practice, but I am always conscious of what I need to work on that will keep me moving towards my goal.

How Micro Goals Motivate

There is nothing like meeting your own expectations to keep you motivated and moving forward. By setting and achieving micro-goals each day, you will be greatly encouraged to press on. For many of us, it can be tempting to give up when the going gets tough. There are certainly difficult days ahead, as there always are. But by calibrating our expectations to small, bite-sized chunks, we make the elephant look smaller and more manageable.

Communicating Your Expectations

While it is true that you will never achieve your dreams without working towards them, it is equally true that the expectations you set for the people around you will have a profound effect on your own success or failure. We are accountable to all the people around us. At work, we are accountable to our boss, to our colleagues, and to our customers. At home, we are accountable to our partner, to our children, to our parents. At play, we are accountable to our teammates and to our friends.

However, while we are accountable to others, others are also accountable to us. Your ability to clearly communicate your expectations to others and hold them accountable to those expectations is an art worth perfecting. There are many ways to do this wrong, and “Do this now or there will be consequences” is certainly one of them. But abdicating this very important responsibility, which we all have, only leads to frustration. So, practice communicating your expectations of others. Don’t be afraid to celebrate when others live up to your expectations, and don’t be afraid to gently let them know when they have let you down.


success in achieving goals

I have spent my entire career in corporate education, where our goal is always to help others grow in their careers, achieve more, and improve at their profession. We use many techniques and tools to help others succeed in their advancement, but I can honestly tell you that the number one secret to achieving all of your dreams is setting expectations for yourself and holding yourself accountable to them.

If you would like to develop yourself or your team to achieve your expectations, contact us at Flint. We can help develop a learning program that will not only meet your needs but achieve your expectations!

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