Achieving Small Goals Often Leads To Larger Victories
I am sitting at my favorite coffee shop, skim latte in hand, BEFORE our daughter’s first-class bell has rung. If you are reading one of my posts for the first time and haven’t been part of this journey, this may not mean anything to you. For those of you who have been following along however, you know this is a pretty big deal because we managed to make it to school early.
CONSISTENTLY, FOR THE LAST THREE WEEKS!
The difference so far? My daughter’s commitment, all of us working together, trial and error, and maybe our new game of “Small Goal Bingo.”
Small Goal Bingo (and I am willing to entertain suggestions for a better name) is an adaptation of something my wife and I came up years ago in a more playful way - and that is all you need to know! In our daughter’s case, we made a seven by seven grid creating 49 different spaces. In each space is a different goal, with a different point value. Make it to school on time one day, 5 points. Make it to school three days in a row, 8 points. The entire week, 15 points. There are other school and life related goals. Learn a new word, 3 points. Try a new food, 3 points. Clean the dinner dishes, 5 points. There are even some fun ones, like watch a show on Netflix, I point. Or play a non-electronic game, 2 points. Every Sunday we tally the points and for every 50 points, she gets an envelope that can have a reward starting at $5 and it goes up. Some may be cash rewards, some experiences. There are a couple of really big prizes, but we don’t want to spoil it! Then we change up a few of the squares depending on the goals for the week and start over (she gets to carry over unused points).
So far, so good! This has been a fun exercise. Seeing her face when she opens a new envelope is priceless. As is her progress in life.
At times, one set back can lead to another and yet to another until it feels like the waves are crashing upon you and you can’t catch your breath. We’ve all been there at one point or another. I will admit that I am the type of person who may have something go “bad” first thing in the morning and start thinking “oh crap, there goes the day.” Taking the reverse psychology, starting off the day on the right foot can snowball into a more positive result. In this case, if she misses a small goal or has a tough day, the next day promises new opportunities.
Years ago, when I was consulting for different companies, trying to find a rhythm and consistency while working on my own, I listened to Admiral William McRaven’s now famous speech to students graduating from the University of Texas. He suggested “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.” For some reason, I started making the bed and still do to this day (unless my wife is still in it). There is something rewarding about this simple achievement.
Remembering that life is a bit of a cha-cha-cha so there will be steps forwards, backwards, and side to side, we know that this will continue to evolve, but the smaller goals are leading to larger victories. And as I finish this post, my latte, and get ready to head into work, I am good with that!
As a footnote, if you want to listen to Admiral McRaven's speech at UT, I highly recommend it....
(You can follow me @rhoniball on Twitter and LinkedIn or connect with me at www.honiball.me)