We hear all the time in leadership circles that to succeed you need to set the bar high. Dream big, plan hard, and swing for the fences.
Yet a big goal can be daunting, and when we set the bar too high, the goal often doesn’t get accomplished, or doesn’t even get started. Procrastination sets in. Or the feeling of being overwhelmed. So maybe there’s a different way.
Years ago when Miss Mary and I moved into our first house, we looked around at all the work needed and made an 8-page list.
We didn’t have the time, money, or expertise to do everything all at once. So, we went the other direction. Instead of setting the bar high …
We set the bar low.
That first day in our new house we simply unpacked our boxes and ate a pizza dinner. The next morning we went at our respective jobs.
Then, slowly, almost unnoticeably, we started working on the house.
Some items were easy to cross off. Like renting a pressure washer and cleaning the driveway.
Some items were more involved. Months went by before we tackled them. Like rotor-tilling the backyard, rolling and raking the soil, and planting new lawn.
For some items, we needed to save up and hire professionals. Like ripping away the old, rotting siding and having new siding installed.
And some items we never did get to. Like replacing the windows.
We lived in that house for 7 years. Little by little, we crossed off three-quarters of our list. We ended up selling that house for almost twice what we paid for it.
Setting the bar low means you tackle your goal in bite-sized chunks. You don’t do a lot, not right away at least. What you do might even seem inconsequential at first. But the “little” that you do is achievable. It actually gets done.
For instance …
- Want better upper body strength?
Set a goal of doing 1 pull-up today. That’s right. Only 1. If you can, do 12 reps of 1 pull-up today, and you’ll be well on your way to being a pull-up machine.
- Want a better marriage?
Kiss your wife for 15 seconds when you come home from work this evening. That’s right, 15 solid seconds on the lips, and see what good things happen from there.
- Want to save for retirement?
Phone up your local investment office, and put $25 this month into a mutual fund. Forget the lofty goal of saving 15 percent of your income. Start with $25.
- Want to be a better spiritual leader for your family?
Read 1 Bible verse after dinner, or when you tuck your kids into bed. 1 verse. Any man can do that.
- Want to hone your mind?
Read 1 chapter from a classic book during your lunch break. Or maybe only 3 pages.
Whatever your goal is, start small. Start doable. Then slowly and surely watch your goal be achieved.
It’s an old joke, but it holds forth an extremely practical principle … How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Question: how are you succeeding at a big goal by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks?
“Part Band of Brothers, part True Grit, this is the rollicking tale of a wartime hero’s fight to find his place in a post-war world.
Rich with action, Feast for Thieves is cinematic storytelling at its best.”
—Adam Makos, New York Times bestselling author of A Higher Call