The key to achieving big goals is to chunk them down into small pieces.
You’ve got goals. They can be small goals which can be accomplished in a month; mid-sized goals which can be accomplished in three to six months; or larger goals which will take a year or more to complete. Your goals probably include things like the following:
- Achieve a healthy weight and be physically fit by exercising and eating right.
- Become financially independent by creating several sources of passive income.
- Live and work in a clean, decluttered, and organized environment.
- Learn to speak French.
- Get a job as a coder.
- Read the world’s literary masterpieces.
- Run a half-marathon.
- Land a well-paying job in a field that you’re passionate about.
In order to achieve any of these goals—or any goal that you can think of–, you have to chunk it down into manageable pieces.
There are three methods that I use to chunk down goals. I’ve found these methods to be very effective, and I wanted to share them with you, so you can break down your goals into small pieces which you can then comfortably tackle, one-by-one.
Here are the three methods I use to chunk down goals:
- Chunk Down Goals by Time
- Chunk Down Goals by Quantity
- Chunk Down Goals by Actionable Steps
Below you’ll find an explanation of each of these methods, as well as examples, so you can apply them in your own life to help you achieve your goals.
Chunk Down Goals by Time
As I already shared in my post, The One-Hour-A-Day Fast Track to Goal Achievement, a while back I was working lots of overtime at the job I then held, I wasn’t exercising, and I was eating out a lot and making bad food choices. I gained a lot of weight as a result.
Once I decided I’d had enough of being overweight, I acted. I visited a nutritionist, and together we came up with a plan of how I was going to lose the 30 pounds that I had gained, in three months. She gave me a menu of the things that I was going to be eating during that time, and she also told me that I had to walk for one hour, every day.
As you can see, a big component of chunking down my goal of losing 30 pounds was to walk for a specific amount of time—one hour–each day. That is, I chunked down the goal of losing weight by time.
Many other goals can be chunked down by time, including the following:
- Manage stress by meditating for 15 minutes a day.
- Master the piano by practicing for 40 minutes a day.
- Get organized by decluttering for 10 minutes a day.
My favorite way to chunk down goals is by devoting one-hour-a-day to each of my important goals.
Chunk Down Goals by Quantity
A second method you can use to chunk down goals is by quantity. That is, set a quota. I shared with you on this blog that I read Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” in 2017. “War and Peace” is over 1300 pages long. That’s a lot of pages, and thinking of reading such a thick book can be daunting.
However, the book is broken down into 362 chapters. Therefore, I read it in one year by reading one chapter a day. That is, I chunked down the goal of “Read ‘War and Peace’” by quantity.
Right now I’m reading “Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov”. The collection contains Chekhov’s 30 most famous short stories. By reading one story a day, I’ll have finished reading the book in a month. Of course, if I wanted to be done faster I could do so by choosing a higher quantity. As an illustration, I could read the book in 6 days by reading 5 chapters a day.
Writing is something else that can easily be chunked down by setting a quota. For example, if you’re trying to write a novel you can set a quota of writing 3 pages a day.
As an alternative, you can set a word quota. The National Novel Writing Month challenge asks participants to write 1,667 words a day to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. That’s another way to chunk down the goal of “Write a Novel” by quantity.
Three more examples of chunking down a goal by quantity include the following:
- Learn to draw by doing one drawing a day for a year.
- Learn French by learning 10 words in French a day for 100 days.
- Improve your tennis game by hitting 300 balls every day.
Chunk Down Goals by Actionable Steps
When you’re not sure how to achieve a goal, the way to chunk it down is by creating a list of actionable steps. I’ll be using three terms to describe this method of chunking down goals:
- Goal – the target you’re trying to hit.
- Sub-Goals: Milestones toward the achievement of your goal.
- Actionable Steps: The individual tasks that will allow you to achieve each sub-goal.
As an illustration, suppose that your goal is the following: “Create a Video Course”. You’ve never made videos before, and you’ve never created a course. Therefore, you don’t know how to proceed. So, what do you do?
First, decide on a deadline for your goal of creating a video course. Suppose that you decide that you’re going to create a course in the next six months. Your deadline is six months from now, so you have 180 days to achieve your goal.
Take out a piece of paper, or open a spreadsheet such as Excel, and create 180 spaces—one for each day of the following 6 months. That’s your Actionable Steps List. It should look something like this:
Continue until you have 180 of these spaces.
Now you’re going to populate each of these spaces with an actionable step. How? Do enough research—go online, read a book on the subject matter, or talk to someone who knows how to create video courses—to be able to break down the goal of “Create a Video Course” into at least ten sub-goals.
Here’s an example of 10 sub-goals that will allow you to achieve the goal of creating a video course:
- Select the equipment you’ll need.
- Learn to use the equipment.
- Choose a topic for your course.
- Validate your topic idea.
- Create an outline.
- Create a script for your course.
- Create slides.
- Record your videos.
- Edit your videos.
- Launch the course.
Assign 18 days to each sub-goal (because 180 days divided by 10 sub-goals gives you 18 days per sub-goal). In other words, you’re going to come up with 18 actionable steps that will allow you to achieve each of your sub-goals.
To create actionable steps, do the following:
- Ask: “What can I do right now to get started?” Populate the first line of your “Actionable Steps List” with whatever you come up with. Do it on Day One.
- For the next step ask: “What needs to be done next?” You’re going to identify the next physical action that needs to be taken to keep moving forward. Populate the second line of your Actionable Steps List with the answer you come up with. Do it on Day Two.
- Continue in this way, one step at a time, until you’re done with the first sub-goal. If you need more than 18 days to complete the sub-goal, that’s fine. Go on to the next line in the your Actionable Steps List and populate it with the next thing you need to do. If it takes you less than 18 days to complete the sub-goal, then get started with the next sub-goal.
- When you’re done with a sub-goal, go on to the next one. Continue in this way until you’ve completed all 10 sub-goals and you’ll have accomplished your goal.
Keep two things in mind when you’re writing down each actionable step. First, ask yourself: “Can I do this right now?” If the answer is “yes”, then you have a good actionable step. If not, then you need to break it down further.
Second, make sure that what you write down is a CRUMBB, an acronym that was coined by Pat Brans, author of “Master the Moment”. That is, think of each component as a Clearly Realizable Unit that is a Meaningful Building Block. Look at the following:
- Clearly realizable is the point that was made in the previous paragraph—it must be an action that you can take in that moment.
- In addition to being realizable, it must be meaningful. That is, it has to help you to move closer to the completion of the sub-goal you’re working on.
I recently launched my first video course–“How to Create an Alter Ego (and why you should)“–, and I did it by chunking down my goal of “create a video course” by actionable steps.
Choose your most important goal and chunk it down by following one of the three methods described above. Live your best life by breaking down your goals into bite-sized pieces which you can then tackle, one at a time.