If you know anything about millennials, you know that we’re obsessed with #goals. We constantly talk, Instagram, and Tweet about squad goals (having a large, glamorous friend group that drinks wine and laughs on a rooftop as the sun sets over a big city), food goals (eating nothing but picturesque avocado toasts and smoothie bowls), life goals (owning a nice apartment and working at a cool job), and much more. I think my generation has firmly attached itself to the idea of these overarching goals in life that involve everything from our social circles to our health because we are an extremely competitive bunch. Social media has created an environment in which we are constantly measuring our success against one another.
As we all strive to meet these goals, whether they are superficial or more important goals like graduating from college, we tend to think about them in very abstract ways. We know exactly what we want, but we rarely consider the tiny steps that build toward the larger goal. We see our goals as far away dreams and we don’t take the time to connect the dots or try to figure out how to make those dreams into realities. People who want a career in media don’t consider that maybe their current goal should be writing or creating something every single day. People who want to travel the world don’t realize that a current small goal could be saving a certain portion of their paycheck every other week and earmarking that money for travel only. People who want to have a better sense of work-life balance don’t recognize that daily “me-time” is a perfectly legitimate goal to have.
These types of daily small goals are extremely important in just about every situation if you want to have long-term success. Harvard researcher Teresa Amabile finds that daily “small-wins” are necessary to keep yourself motivated. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you aren’t going anywhere, and the long-term goal will seem increasingly distant.
The great thing about setting daily small goals is that you can tailor them to your exact experience. When you have a big goal, like, growing your business to the point of multi-million dollar earnings, you can easily forget that your path to success may be different from someone else’s — even if the goal is the same. One person with that type of long-term goal may need to focus on their social media plan and try to post through their business’ page twice more each day. You however, might not need to make that your goal because it’s something you already do naturally. Instead, maybe your goal could be reaching out to someone in your field once per day or personally helping several customers each week. It really depends on your current strengths and weaknesses, and carefully mapping out a game plan accordingly.
This method doesn’t just apply to business goals or concrete dreams. I have a goal of being more comfortable in social situations when I’m around new people. I tend to get anxious when I meet people and I respond to that anxiety by being overly sarcastic — not always the best look. For me, a small goal could simply be: Next time I meet someone new, I want to make it through the whole conversation without saying something negative or complaining.
I keep a journal (which I highly recommend) and at the end of my day, I usually like to write down small daily achievements. These could be acing a midterm, improving on a workout, giving my dog some extra love by taking her to the dog park across town, cooking a nice meal from scratch, or even just giving my mom a call. I’ve been writing down my small achievements at the end of the day simply because it’s a positive mood booster. Apart from that, I also have a daily check list of things I need to get done, so at the end of the day, I can see what got finished and what needs to be done tomorrow. Now, I’ll be merging these two sections of my journal. My to-do list and my small achievements will become one. Not only will my daily list have things like, “take out the trash” and “go to the post office” but also small goals that mesh with my long-term goals. I might write things like, “If you bump into acquaintance, say hello instead of avoiding eye contact”, “If another blogger likes or comments on your post, check their blog out and spread the love”, or “Watch an Adobe Illustrator tutorial while you get ready in the morning rather than endless YouTube makeup videos, because the former will more likely come in handy in your profession”.
As a stereotypical millennial, I think I’m always going to have #goals, and I’m always going to want to compete with my peers in achievement. Now, however, with small daily goals kept in mind, I think I’ll have a much better chance at becoming my best self. I might not be a super healthy, wealthy, popular person by next week, but I can go to bed at night knowing that I’m working hard every day.