get stuff done

How To Get Stuff Done. Period.

When it comes to goal setting and motivation, there are a couple of schools of thought:

  • You should set big, ambitious, audacious goals … ones that challenge you and inspire you
  • You should set small, easy, minimum targets … ones that you can do without fail every single day

Who’s right? I think that both can be. A big goal (like writing a book, or losing 50lbs) can be really inspiring, but it can also be daunting. Small targets aren’t so inspiring or exciting … but they are reassuringly do-able.

Here’s how to combine both for maximum effect.

Ambitious Goals: Shoot for the Moon

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

Big goals are inspiring. They give you something really worthwhile to go for: in many cases, achieving one of your biggest goals could make a huge difference to your life.

And, as the Les Brown quote says, even if you miss your goal, you’ll still have accomplished something worthwhile. Let’s say you aim to lose 50lbs and you lose 30lb: that’s still a great achievement, and one that will have huge benefits for your health.

Your ambitious goals might be something like:

  • Run a marathon
  • Write a book and get it published
  • Change to a new career
  • Run a successful small business
  • Get back into those old jeans

When you’re looking ahead to the long-term, set yourself some big goals. Don’t make them so huge that they’re totally unrealistic, but do make them inspiring and potentially life-changing.

Do it: Pick one big goal that you’d like to accomplish within the next one to three years. That might be writing a book, losing weight, starting a business, getting a new qualification … or anything that’s important to you. Write your goal down. (Tell us about it in the comments below, if you want.)

Minimum Targets: A String of Successes

“Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.” – Saul Bellow

While big goals can be inspiring, they can also be daunting. You might get excited when you think about having your published book on the shelves … but that excitement can easily give way to endless procrastination when you think of all the work involved.

This is where minimum targets come in. A minimum target is something that you achieve every single day (or perhaps every weekday), without fail. That could be:

  • Exercise for 10 minutes
  • Write for 15 minutes
  • Send one email to an old contact
  • Read two pages of a book
  • Eat two pieces of fruit

…or anything at all that relates to your own goal. Ideally, your minimum target should take no more than 15 – 20 minutes: the idea is that you can do this on even the busiest days.

Of course, you may well have days when you go far beyond your minimum target. The target is there to ensure that you do make progress (and that you have an encouraging sense of achievement) even when things aren’t going so well.

Do it: Come up with a minimum target that relates to your big goal. Get a calendar and put it somewhere visible (e.g. over your desk). Mark an X on every day that you achieve your minimum target. Your aim is to create a string of Xs.

You can achieve great things in your life. Even if you’ve struggled to reach your goals before, you can use straightforward techniques like the ones above to boost your chances of success. And if you’d like to share a tip with us, or tell us about your own goals, just pop a comment below.


16 Responses to How To Get Stuff Done. Period.

  1. They say that people overestimate how much they can accomplish in a day, but underestimate how much they can accomplish in a year. If you string together a year’s worth of Xs you will have accomplished something worthwhile. Good stuff.


  2. 涛 陈 says:

    I think the most hardest thing is that people don’t know what the dream they are  searching for. I recommend they can have a try for morning diary. Dream comes from six aspects of health, work, family, hobby,quality and social relationship.

  3. Dan Erickson says:

    Yes, and we can get a bunch of different things done simultaneously when we do a little of each a day.  Great post.

  4. I find that goals are more of a priority and a must-do now when you tell your close friends and/or family about it. This puts more pressure on you to succeed depending on your mindset or even your ego. Who wants to be the one that looks like they gave up after making goals openly? It may not work for some people, but I know a lot of people work this way.

  5. Pingback: How To Get Stuff Done. Period. - Time Management Magazine | Time Management Magazine

  6. Ben Ross says:

       I definately agree on having both aswell. Having your big goal and splitting it up into smaller action steps helps alot. Because alot of the time just sitting there with this massive goal can make you freak out and go “what the hell do I do now.”


  7. Pamela Knox says:

    For the last few months, I have developed my own “3 x 5 Index Card” system.  I wrote out the big goals on one  card and clipped it to my bedroom calendar.  Then on Sundays, I make a card for the week of things to be done and something to reach or move closer to the big goals.  This “week card” stays on my nightstand.  Then each night or at the beginning of the day, I write what I want accomplished for that day.   As I find items that need to be purchased, I make a shopping list card to keep in my purse.  The 3 x 5 index cards are large enough for me to set goals–but keep my goal setting in balance.  Any larger and I would fill it and then feel like I’m not accomplishing much.  So far these last few months, I’ve accomplished some of the much put-off goals. 

  8. Malibongwe says:

    This year: I call them the The 2013 Big 7
    1. Driver’s License, 2. Run 12 Races(2 Marathons and others codes), 3. Read 24 books on Business and Personal Development, 4. Attend 4 Seminars(Business/Personal Development), 5. Buy Double Cab Van( Toyota Raider), 6.Traffic Officer(a new career), 7. Business Start Up

  9. Awesome article! I am a person who likes to stay productive and busy and whenever my friends ask me how I manage to juggle so many things at once without getting sidetracked, I just tell them to take everything one step at a time. Great advice! 

  10. Nate Anglin says:

    Wouldn’t you agree that it’s easy to  plan for the big goal? It’s the small goals that make the big goal attainable that are the hardest part, which you outlined. We need to focus on breaking everything down into actionable steps so we dont overwhelm ourselves. 

  11. Lexafilms says:

    I agree

  12. Janine Gilmour says:

    Love the go big, then small approach Ali and the calls to action! 

    Seems goal setting has taken a bad rap in some sectors lately, so call it life purpose, passion, vision of what you will, it helps to chart a course and then take action …. if you have a specific outcome in mind!

  13. Josh_greenbay_packers says:

    I hope to move to The Netherlands in 2 years.

  14. Pingback: 3 Tips That'll Stop You Procrastinating » Insightful Articles

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