Our ranch house was located at the bottom of a canyon, cut deep into the earth over the years by the North Laramie River. Several times a year my Dad would climb the steep south mountain of the canyon to visit an elderly neighbor woman named Sophie. The cliffs of the canyon rose 1,000 feet on either side of the ranch house, covered with boulders and littered with the debris from an occasional landslide.
When I turned 8, Dad finally relented and allowed both my brother and me to climb with him on one of his visits to Sophie. He had not heard from her for a while and she had no telephone. Anxiously, I wondered how we would “stick” to the rocks and not fall off.
He told me not to worry about that as I looked up from the bottom toward our goal—the mountain top.
Instead, he told me to keep my eyes on the few feet of mountain around me so I could find places to put my hands and feet. The places to pull ourselves up with our hands and steps that led upward would reveal themselves as we got closer.
Even though the mountain side looked sheer from the bottom, there were lots of crevices and places to climb once we got started. They were invisible from below, lost in the grandeur of the larger view.
By breaking down my goal of climbing the mountain into small steps to be taken one at a time, I was successful and able to reach the top.
Leaders with strong minds are successful because they not only establish their goals, they know how to break them down into tiny, clear chunks.
If you spend too much time contemplating the huge distance between where you are now and the goal you want to achieve, there is a risk you’ll never get started.
Too much information can be as intimidating as it is inspiring. Chunking is breaking down larger goals into achievable steps. This will help you understand all the tasks involved in achieving a big goal as well as create a timeline to get them done. Chunking tasks that are related is an efficient way to create a strong mind because the brain loves to make connections.
By breaking down a huge project into smaller chunks, you can also experience the sense of achievement and progress.
Here are 7 ways:
1. Chunking often works best when you work backwards from your goal. Think about the obstacles you need to overcome, barriers you need to break, customers you need to contact, or product you need to produce if you want to be successful.
2. Investigate further to see if each goal you’ve listed above can be broken down even further into mini-goals. Take a closer look at each goal and see what steps are needed to achieve that specific goal.
3. Create a visual map if you’re a visual person so you can get a picture of a) where you are, b) where you want to end up, and c) what needs to be done to accomplish it.
4. Put your tasks in chronological order, working out what jobs need to be done a) first, b) alongside others, and c) alone.
5. Identify those tasks that will require more effort or additional training in order for you to accomplish them. If possible, choose the time you can tackle them rather than waiting until they are foisted upon you when you are least prepared to deal with them.
6. Build a timeline of your tasks. Decide when you need to reach your goal if you have the luxury of setting your own deadline. If you do not have that luxury, write the deadline down and then identify how much time you will need to accomplish each step and mini-goal. If you’re pressed for time, how much of the work can you assign to others? Think about getting professional assistance if you need.
7. Keep your eye on the next step. Chunking allows us to create small, achievable steps so we do not lose our confidence as we move toward the larger goal.
Successful people understand that clarity gives us certainty. Small, clear goals keep our attention focused and yet are not enough to stress us out.
After I made it up the mountain, I felt as though I was sitting on top of the world! Sophie was there and made us lunch, and then we headed back down. What I learned that day was that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted by a big task. However, by keeping these steps in mind, you create a way to reach the top.
What suggestions do you have for tackling big goals?
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