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Breaking Goals Down To The Basics

By Jeffrey Rolo

One of the primary reasons why people fail to execute their goals is they set forth unrealistic or overly complex goals. Most of us have the tendency to look at the finish line without paying much consideration to the distance between the end point and us. Here are a couple examples to illustrate this point:

  • My goal is to lose 80 pounds by next year.

  • My goal is to lose 8 pounds a month each month until I reach the grand goal of 80 pounds.

Or how about this one?

  • My goal is to save up enough money to take a cross-country vacation next summer.

  • My goal is to save $30.00 each week so that 50 weeks from now I will have accumulated $1,500.00 for the vacation expenses. I will do this by using grocery coupons, downgrading my cable plan and dining out one time less per week.

The majority of us lay out our goals in the general manner exhibited by the first statement in each of the two examples above, but unfortunately they are so aimless and expansive that unless you are particularly motivated and disciplined chances are good you will give up long before you reach the goal.

On the other hand, if you break down your expansive goals into an assortment of smaller goals that are easily achieved, you will find yourself far more focused and motivated. Each time you reach a milestone (the conclusion of a smaller goal), you will experience the jubilation of success and be one step closer to your end goal.

Breaking large goals up into manageable pieces also plays a bit of a trick on the mind. What would be your natural answer to the following question?

  • Is it easier to lose 80 pounds in 10 months, or 2 pounds each week?

The thought of losing 80 pounds is horrifying that's a lot of weight. Two pounds is much more manageable. Right? But if you break the numbers down, you'll find that two pounds a week for 10 months will result in the loss of 80 pounds, which is exactly the same as your expansive end goal.

By breaking up your large goals, you allow your mind to focus on the easily achievable midpoints such as two pounds a week. At the end of each week if you see that you didn't reach your goal of two pounds, you'll know something needs to be tweaked if you are to succeed with your end goal. On the other hand no matter how frustrated you become with your diet, if you see that you are losing just two pounds every week you'll know that you are well on your way and as such you will remain far more motivated throughout the process.

No realistic goal is too great as long as you break it down to easily achievable and detailed interim goals.

Copyright 2005

About The Author

Jeffrey Rolo is an experienced human resources manager, business owner and also the owner of, a website offering a free 20+ page guide on goal setting. Visit to view the guide as well as other articles about goals and management.


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