Are you up for a challenge? Not a huge one, mind you. Nothing that will take a lot of time or effort. Just a mini one. Something to inspire you to push yourself in ways that you wish you could. Everyone has something they always wanted to do. What is yours?
Mini Does Not Mean Minor
Mini-Challenges are short duration goals. They are quick to think up and quick to complete. The power of the mini-challenge lies in the quick success. Usually, big challenges or goals take months or years to complete. Not a mini-challenge. These take hours, days or maybe a week. No more. Short, focused goals are a great way to build to longer, deeper goals. In fact, for longer goals can be made up of mini-challenges that incrementally move you to your desired result.
Step 1: List Your Goals
Okay, it’s time to take out a piece of paper or open a new Open Office file and write down your goals. Any and all of them, no matter how big or small. Next, rank them in order of importance. Once ranked, assign a duration. Reorder your goals into short (hours, days, weeks), medium (weeks, months) and long (years). The small list will be your mini-challenge list, for now.
Step 2: Pick The Quick Win
To start, you will focus on the hours type goals that will be the quickest to complete. Then, go do it. Right now. Don’t wait to finish reading this post, just make it happen.
Step 3: Check It Off The List
How did it feel to complete your mini-challenge? Hopefully, you felt good about getting it done. Terrific. Now, check it off the list. Take a big marker, black pen or strike through font and cross it off. Feels good huh! This is the power of completing something.
Step 4: Share Your List
Now that you got a quick win, it’s now time to ensure you get the rest of the list done. The best way to keep yourself honest is to share your list with friends. Nothing motivates you more than when someone you trust and respect encourages you to succeed. Sharing your list does that. An even better way would be to enlist a friend to help you complete your goals. That’s even better than someone asking — someone in it with you.
Tip Pick friends or mentors that will encourage you not scold you. Positive peer pressure is a great motivator — constant negativity is not.
Step 5: Work Down The Short List
Consider the short list your mini-challenges. Try and complete one a week until the list is all checked off. These small accomplishments will build the base in which you tackle your medium and long range goals. Getting the short ones out of the way will allow you to focus on the bigger challenges.
Step 6: Break Down Big Goals Into Mini-Challenges
I am sure you saw that coming. Kind of makes sense that now you are proficient in achieving short goals, the next logical step must be the longer ones. There is no real magic in this. The basic premise is to fragment your big goals into small pieces that incrementally get you to the end state. Simple. Nothing too it. Well, maybe there is a couple of tricks you should use to make it go smoother:
- Natural Breaks: Look at your big goals and see if there are any natural breaks. Natural breaks are places where tasks want to stop. It could be something like: completion of a class, an event, after a certain number of pages or when the draft is completed.
- Submission Dates, Conferences or Events: A great way to plan is to center tasks around events that recur or have deadlines. Having a goal that cannot move makes it a great motivator.
Step 7: Scrub Your List Often
Once you have completed your several mini-challenges, go through your list and redo the priority. Remove the completed challenges. Add new ones. This method is all about getting the little wins so that they build into bigger ones.
Check out Zen Habits post on Changing Habits. Leo has some great tips on setting and achieving goals while breaking old habits.