To Do a Great Big Thing, Break It Into Tiny Daily Things
Here’s how to discourage-proof those big dreams
When I tell people that I write books, they sometimes act as if I’d said I build houses by myself, with only my bare hands. “You what? I could never. I don’t know how you sit down and write a whole book.”
Here’s a secret: I never sit down and write a whole book.
Maybe William Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks and didn’t change a single word (so he claimed, anyway), but that’s not how most writers work. For me, a good day’s work may look like any of the following:
- Brainstorm revision ideas for 15 minutes.
- Work on outline structure.
- Write 500 words in chapter six.
And so on. The work is divided into tiny steps — and then broken down even further.
Small actions repeated over long periods of time pave the way for quantum leaps. Whether you want to start an online business, embark upon a new career path, leave a bad relationship, or start a family with your partner, you first have to break the “big thing” into its most elemental pieces.
Think very, very small
First, identify the most important goal for the week. Next, identify one daily step you can take toward that weekly goal — and then make it smaller. We tend to overestimate how much we can actually get done, which means the daily steps you identify en route to your weekly goal should be lower lifts than what you think you can handle. For instance, let’s say you want to start an online business, and you’ve bought a course from an entrepreneur you admire. Your weekly goal may be to complete the course; your daily goal is to do module one.
Your biggest challenge here may be pushing on even when a step is too small to bring a sense of accomplishment. We’re used to instant gratification, even if it’s just a like on an Instagram post. But to achieve your Great Big Thing, separate yourself from the need for outside…