Mondays With Mac: Set Realistic Short-Term Goals
When I was a freshman in college I learned an unforgettable lesson.
I was having a rough week when there was a lot to do and very little time to do it. I was overwhelmed. I panicked.
That night a friend stopped by my dorm room. When I told him my problem, he said, "Mac, I'll share something with you that my grandmother told me a few years ago. She said to always remember: 'Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.'"
I said, "Bob, come on. Here I am drowning in work and your lifeline is a quote from your grandmother."
After he left, however, those twelve little words kept dancing in my head. I took out a piece of notebook paper and listed all the things I had to do in the next three days. That night I began knocking them off one by one.
Three days later I took out that paper and marked through the last thing on the list. It felt great! And then I took out another piece of paper and wrote down the words: "Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard." I then folded the paper and put it in my wallet. As many of you know, I've been collecting quotes ever since.
You see, success doesn't come cascading like Niagara Falls; it comes one drop at a time through short-term, realistic goals.
Experts on motivation disagree on a lot of things, but one thing they all agree on is that your levels of motivation are directly tied to your expected probabilities of success. In other words, if you believe you can do something (the goals are realistic), you're likely to be highly motivated. If, however, you think you can't (because the goals are unrealistic) your motivation level falls greatly.
The lesson here is to continue to dream big dreams, but realize that the short-term goals that take you to the next plateau are the real keys to success.