The ‘Big-Little’ Goal-Setting System to Get What You Want
We live in a time of ever-growing hustle-culture. While we’re supposed to work harder every day to get what we want, there’s also this ever-growing pile of to-do list items we’re supposed to accomplish to get ahead.
- Wake-up before 5:00 AM
- Read a book a week
- Eat well
- Get clients
- Create content
- Build our product
The list is always bigger than the number of hours in the day.
If you’ve got big goals, you’re likely to have a big to-do list. But there’s an easier, faster way to get what you want when it comes to goal-setting. Instead of trying to be everywhere at once we’ll focus on two goals a month.
Using this ‘big-little’ goal-setting strategy, you can achieve the goals you want, faster, and with less loss of productivity and wheel-spinning.
The Wrong Goals
Most entrepreneurs chase the wrong goals. We chase consequences instead of service. We might chase money, possessions, fame, notoriety, prestige, influence, status, or freedom.
- But you can’t be a money when you grow up
- No one says, “I’m a freedom” when asked, “what do you do?”
- You can’t wake-up and do your best Rolex for the day
These are all consequences. Consequences are the end-result of performing a certain kind of action.
Consequences are not goals. When we chase consequences we feel empty, unfulfilled, and lost. Consequences don’t fill the hole. The hole only gets deeper if we chase the wrong goals. So what are we supposed to chase instead?
We choose service.
The Right Goals
The right goals help other people get what they want. You start by choosing a niche of serve. This is your tribe. These are your people. This is your reason to wake-up in the morning. No one will wake-up to fight for a Rolex. Not for long, at least.
Instead, we choose the people we serve.
As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
This is the model of service. We choose the people we serve. We understand the problems that keep them awake at night. We work hard every day to find better ways to help them get what they want. These are the right goals.
When you aim your North Star towards service to others, you’ll have what you want before you’d ever think possible.
The ‘Big-Little’ Goal-Setting Strategy
Big-little goal-setting uses the power of two simple goals per month. These become your main focus. We have one major goal for the month. This is your big goal. We then have one little goal for the day.
If we perform our little goal every day we’ll accomplish the big goal for the month.
Complete 12 of these Big-Little combinations and you’ll have an entire strategy for the year. When you focus all your energy on a single goal for the day (and month) all the other to-dos come into clarity.
What was once urgent is likely unimportant. What you thought would benefit your best work might be nothing more than a distraction. When we make a large list of to-do items the lists become overwhelming.
You don’t have as much productive time in your day as you think.
You can’t hustle yourself into multi-tasking and think you’ll accomplish more by chasing a hundred marbles in different directions, simultaneously.
Find Your Big
I like to start with a 3-5 five year list of goals. As Tony Robbins tells us, we overestimate what we can do in one year, but underestimate what we can do in five. 12 months isn’t a long time. But five years will bring many changes.
Start with your long-game.
Where do you want to be in five years? Who do you want to be? How do you want to live? What work would you like to do every day, no matter what else was going on in your life? We begin with this zoomed-out view of where you’d like your life to go.
Next, we get closer.
Divide those 3-5 five years into smaller, annual goals. Don’t worry, you’ll revisit these goals and change them frequently, but you need a place to start. Give yourself one or two major goals for the year. These must help you get you towards that five-year mark.
Next, divide those annual goals into 12, monthly goals.
Each monthly goal becomes your Big. You choose one per month and work towards the Big goal every day until it’s done.
Uncover Your Little
Now, we find your Little goal. Choose your first Big goal of the year, and divide it into bite-sized tasks for the month. Take the Big goal, divide by four weeks. Divide each four-week goal into a daily, Little goal.
Maybe the Little goal is the same task every day.
For example, I write daily. I have a daily publishing goal. I know if I publish a certain amount of daily content I can predict how much my tribe will grow each month. The more my tribe grows the more I can predict how much my income will grow.
However, money is never a goal. The money is a consequence of doing the right work every day, no matter what else happens. The right daily work becomes your Little goal.
When you complete your Little goal for the day you can move to all the other tasks on your list.
You’ll have the peace of mind, knowing you’re on the right path towards your five-year goal. Every day’s work matters.
The Monday Meeting
Every Monday morning I have a meeting with myself. I put the meeting in my calendar. I have a special analog notebook labeled, “Monday Meeting,” set-aside only for this purpose.
In the front of the notebook are a list of my long and short-term goals.
I then divide my long-term goals as described above, and uncover the required Little goal for the upcoming week.
During my Monday Meeting I track all kinds of data points to help measure how much I’ve gained/lost since the following meeting. By constantly re-visiting this long-term goals, and course-correcting my behavior every week, I’m able to uncover the most-important Little goal I must accomplish each day.
The Monday Meeting puts the entire Big-Little process into perspective.
If you ignore all the other strategies in this story, the Monday Meeting is the one hour of power that will change your life in a positive direction. I highly recommend you adopt some version of this.
There will be times when you don’t hit your Big goal for the month. Life happens. This is also the reason why we can’t hustle ourselves into multiple directions at once.
If you don’t reach your Big goal this month, repeat and re-adjust your goal-setting next month.
Perform your Little goal daily until you get the result you want. I know the idea sounds stupid-simple, but this is a blue-collar approach to the life you want. Although we can do more than one task at a time, our brains can only focus on one task at a time.
When you put all your creative energy into your single, Little goal for the day, the rest of the day feels list a gift. Goal-setting doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you can divide your specific long-term goals into manageable monthly goals, the rest of the process works itself out.
The only reason you wouldn’t reach your goal is because you either chose the wrong Little goal, or you didn’t have all the necessary endpoints mapped correctly. The rest will happen from the power of cumulative effort.
You won’t have to feel as if you’re buried under 1,000 to-do items.
You now know your single Little goal of the day, your Most Important Task (MIT). Your Little goal is your top priority. Ideally, you’ll finish this before you attack anything else on your list. While this isn’t always true, you must complete your Little goal before bed each night.
Chores Before Fun
I repeat a little saying to my son: Chores before fun make fun more fun. Your daily, Little goal is your chore. Attack your work as a blue-collar vocation. You punch the clock. You sit in your seat. You turn the crank until your shift is done.
If you accomplish your Little goal every day, before you go to bed, you’ll sleep knowing your goals are in reach. The key is to constantly measure the gain from where you were:
- How many more sales did you make this week?
- How many more clients did you earn?
- How many more subscribers did you earn?
- How many articles did you write?
- How many lines of code did you complete?
We can only hit the goals we measure.
Keep track of the consequences of your daily behaviors. Every Monday adjust your Little goal as-needed. If you find yourself straying from the target, change the Little goal to a task that will get you what you want.
Always operate through the lens of service.
How can you help enough other people get what they want? Through this service to others, we’ll get what we want. But not before. If you want customers you’ve got to meet them where they stand and solve their problems first, before you can solve yours.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.