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Setting goals can be the most exciting and dreaded part of life as an entrepreneur.

Do you want to make your first million, hire more employees, or enter into a new industry? Facing the monumental task of achieving those goals often gives way to discouragement and procrastination. This is where the elephant enters the room. When tackling a complex goal, I remember a question my mom asked when I was little: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This idiom teaches a lesson about making our elephant-sized dreams and long-term goals a reality; if you want to succeed, you have to break large goals down into bite-size tasks and take them step by step.

Setting long-term goals

Why set long-term goals at all if they become overwhelming and unattainable? They provide direction over a lengthy period of time. This major goal acts as the compass for your journey, directing your actions toward that goal. Long-term goals also help you organize your priorities. You have to consider how you divide your time and resources towards that goal and other parts of your life. Setting long-term goals provides motivation through a sense of purpose and the desire to complete the goal you have set out to do.

You can’t rely on long-term goals alone

Setting long-term goals keeps your eyes on the prize, but how are you supposed to reach that goal? Making your first million can seem so far away in the moment, leaving you discouraged, because it is a vague goal. Long-term goals should be a bit vague because of the many ways to complete them. This is why you have to break down your long-term goals into smaller, actionable steps. Those smaller steps appear less overwhelming and help you make progress daily. These short-term goals help you stay on track to accomplish your long-term dreams.

Sometimes breaking down elephant-sized goals appears intimidating. Here are some ways to start laying the steps you have to take towards your long-term goals.

1. Your short-term goals should meet the SMART standards

Use these standards for setting successful short-term goals 

  • Specific: List exactly what you want to do. Whether you are following up with a client or setting a profit goal for the period, be specific about what you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable: make sure you can measure your goal quantitatively whether that’s a number of sales or you can complete a task. Measurability provides a sense of accomplishment or lets you know exactly how you can improve.
  • Attainable: Your short-term goals should be something that you can do but they should also provide a challenge. You won’t see the growth and progress you desire if you set goals that are too easy. But, if you set goals that are too difficult, you avoid addressing it at all.
  • Realistic: In a similar vein of setting attainable goals, you have to be realistic when setting short-term goals. Know what you can complete with the time and skill that you have. If your goals involve other people, you will have to be flexible with their potential time limitations and skills. 
  • Time-bound: Set deadlines for your short term goals. Those deadlines will help keep you focused and on task to complete your project in a timely fashion. 

2. Break out the sticky notes

Often, viewing an unending to-do list can be intimidating. I’ve found that taking sticky notes and breaking out to-do lists by topic can be helpful to address one goal or aspect of a short-term goal at a time. Sometimes the actions you have to take still aren’t clear with short-term goals and you have to break them down further. Take the time to take apart the steps you have to complete to attain your goals.

3. Review your goals often

Be sure to review your goals to keep them in mind as you go about your day. That can mean setting a lock screen on your phone with your goals listed, writing them out in a journal daily, or placing them on the wall of your office. Whatever your method, find a way to remind yourself of what you plan to do that day.

By breaking down your elephant-sized goals into bite-sized pieces, you can start moving from dreaming to doing. Your daily accomplishment of steps to reach your goals will keep you motivated no matter how bad your case of the Mondays. Be driven by the purposes you set for yourself and the things you can accomplish.

For more information about goal setting take a few minutes to check out the following links: