How to Accomplish a Big Goal

The Costco Pumpkin Pie with its 12-inch pie crust. From pievcake

or How to Eat a Costco Pumpkin Pie by Yourself!

I’ve got a number of projects on my mind and am determined to finish each one, but I get overwhelmed if I try to do them all at once. Even if I’m working hard, I spread myself too thin and end up making very little progress in any direction at all. Then I get discouraged and wind up giving up or at least spending a lot more time and energy stressing than necessary. So recently, I’ve been making my daily and weekly goal lists smaller – only 3 big items per day (and maybe 2 or 3 other little things). The keys are to focus on one thing at a time and to break down the big goal into little steps.

I liken it to buying and eating Costco desserts when I’m shopping for one: dessert-loving ME.

I really love their All American Chocolate Cake. It may look small, but I'm pretty sure it feeds 30.

Costco’s All-American Chocolate Cake. Looks small here but is 4 layers tall & easily feeds 30.

1. Focus on one goal at a time:

If I buy two desserts at Costco, like my favorites, the pumpkin pie (12-inch pie crust, $6) and the All-American cake (the biggest rich and moist chocolate cake you can buy for $17), I simply will not be able to eat them both in a timely matter without making myself sick. They take up a ton of room in my fridge and will sit on the middle shelf reminding me of my failure to shop wisely every time I open the fridge.

However, if I only buy one dessert at a time, let’s say the pumpkin pie because it’s marginally healthier and a party in my mouth, then I can focus on finishing that pie before it goes bad at a pace that won’t make me gain 5 pounds in a week. Totally doable. And delicious.

2. Break down the big goal into little steps:

While I might be tempted, I’m not going to eat the pie all at once or…even in thirds. I’m going to tackle consuming the pumpkin goodness in smaller pieces. Every time I have a slice, perhaps one for breakfast and for a snack or dessert, I cut only a small piece and put it on a small plate. Not only do I enjoy it more – a nicely cut piece presented on an appropriately-sized plate is much more special than eating forkfuls of pie from the container while standing at the counter – I also don’t get tired of eating it and don’t stuff myself to self-loathing.

Accomplishing a big goal can be just as enjoyable (and without self-loathing). Focus on one big goal at a time.*  And break down your goal into smaller steps; write out the steps if there are more than you can count on one hand! For instance, when I’m creating my new reel, I might break it down to the following:

  1. Decide which clips I want to use and in what order.
  2. Gather all of the clips into one place on my computer.
  3. Work through the clips, deciding which parts to use for the reel, and add them accordingly for a very rough cut.
  4. Edit the clips and transitions to a rough cut
  5. Add opening and closing pictures/videos
  6. Add titles
  7. Review the rough cut to the final version
  8. Upload the reel to my website and my casting profiles as desired.
  9. Publicize my new reel through twitter or facebook, etc.

Writing these steps out will also help you foresee issues or think of additional steps that might be needed. For instance, maybe I thought I had all of my clips I decided to use (in Step 1), but I realized I have two only on DVD. So I have to create an extra step – 1.5 – to figure out how to get my DVD videos onto my computer. (FYI: I used Handbrake. No Mac the Ripper required!)

Without breaking down (and writing out!) these steps, “make new reel” on my weekly goals list is such a big undertaking that I probably won’t get anything related to it done. And it can get pretty disheartening to see “MAKE NEW REEL” on your list every single week.

I love Costco & often consider getting a giant $30 teddy bear…but he’d have to pay rent.

I love Costco & often consider getting a giant $30 teddy bear, but at his size he’d have to pay rent.

So learn from my discouragement!

Focus on a single big goal, like editing a new reel or creating a new habit, and break it down into steps, just like eating a Costco pumpkin pie. I like my pieces toasted and with whipped cream. Mmmmm…accomplishing a goal and eating pie without stress: delicious!

In case you want more, here are two articles from NerdFitness:

*Caveat: If you find that the project needs a lot of time between stages, like paint needing to dry between coats, you can have another project to switch to…but only if you REALLY get bored.

2 thoughts on “How to Accomplish a Big Goal

  1. Eric Lin

    Excellent. This type of sharing is very good. I call it the daily Zen; very practical yet effective.
    I especially like your use of pie and cake to illustrate your concept.