Top Skills Thursday: Small Goals

I’m sure most people have encountered a situation where they’ve had a large task and needed to break it into smaller pieces to accomplish it. That isn’t the small goal idea we’ll be talking about today.

Setting small goals doesn’t require a larger goal to be necessary. Sometimes the everything is too much.

That’s where small goals come into play. My current workplace is very noisy. I find myself overstimulated on a regular basis. The urge to run screaming from the building ceases to be a figurative urge and becomes a real one every day.

I have way to cope with that stress, and hopefully won’t be stuck in it for much longer, but even with all the skills I’ve written about, it becomes far too much at times.

Well, when that happens, I set small goals for myself. It’s an effective way of getting through any difficult situation or setting. It keeps me at my desk, working, maintaining my financial stability. It does not make the environment more pleasant, but it does ensure my survival.

On breaks, when I’m overrun with the noise, lights, and activity around me, I’ll step outside, put on my headphones, and lose myself in a song from my “calming” playlist. I recenter myself and can dive back in.

When I have an hour and a half to my next break, it gets a bit daunting.

Setting small goals works this way:

Determine a time frame or point of progress you know you can reach in your current state. As I’ve said before, do 5 minutes. If 5 are too many, do 1. In my job, it’s usually, “Take one more call, focus only on that call. When it’s done, take 5 seconds to regroup.”

Repeat that goal if your job is repetitive, or set a different goal after that one.

If you’re trying to get to a set time (end of the day, your next break, end of the meeting, end of the visit with a family member you wish you didn’t have to see, end of the shopping trip you didn’t want to make, etc), do not track time. If you watch a clock you’ll ruin the benefit of this skill. The idea is to not watch a clock and still make progress.

Before you know it, you’ll be through the horrible things and free to take some time for yourself. Make sure you use it to recharge, ground, and relax yourself in the most effective and efficient way possible.

A secret benefit to this skill is you’ll develop confidence in yourself. The more you “do the things” the more you realize your capability to do them. That builds a buffer between yourself, sources of stress, and even triggers. So get that next 5 minutes and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back!

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