Goal Overload? Think Tiny.

November 29th, 2012 by Kelly Kienzle

Han Son Doon Skylight photo, posted on Kelly’s bulletin board

This month’s article is a cautionary warning as we enter The Season of Goal Setting.  The approach of year-end starts a marathon of goal-setting and vision-defining activities that is intended to gear us up for the new year.  It is meant to inspire and motivate us to bring about great change.  We pledge to do so much more for ourselves, our teams and our families.

Yet where we will fit all these goals into our schedules?  What large swaths of unused time did you have in 2012 where you can park these new aspirations?  Merely thinking about it induces Goal Overload and greater stress.  And that is not how to be inspired and motivated.  So, I invite you to “Think Tiny” instead. Here is how it works:

1. Go ahead and set your broad and inspirational intentions.  However, consider them as general themes or buckets.  Mine could be: “Healthy Lifestyle”, “Openness in my coaching” and “Happiness, wherever possible”.

2. Post these somewhere that you see often.  Or find a trinket that reminds you of these goals and leave it out on your desk.  Create some kind of reminder of what your intentions are.  My reminders are, in order of the themes above: my favorite running route, a picture of a cavern pinned to my bulletin board, and a stuffed, plush warthog.  (Thanks, Sharon.)

3. Aim to do one small thing every few days that is just one tiny drop in each bucket.  Check in with yourself as you end your day (or start your next one) about what small action or decision you made that relates to your general theme.  Look at your poster or trinket to help you remember to do this.

4. And then accept that this is sufficient.  Enjoy the fulfillment that can come from small actions that are deeply intentional.  Know that your outward stress is decreased and thus creating a more positive atmosphere on your team.

We can’t achieve great things every day or maybe even every year.  Nor can we expect to without creating a debilitating stress on ourselves.  Instead, invite yourself and your colleagues to “think tiny”.  And enjoy the satisfying simplicity brought about by thinking tiny.


“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

– Annie Dillard

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