Over the years, our contributing writers have shared much wisdom about goals ‒ how to set them and how to achieve them. We all know that attaining a big, long-term goal necessitates breaking it into smaller goals, which serve as milestones on the way toward the end goal. We also know that to reach even the first, small goal requires action. Thus, people often list the steps required to reach each milestone.
As often happens in business and in life, however, we are all stronger in some areas than others. Also, conditions can change, for example, you might come down with the flu and lose a week of work, or your ISO might be acquired by a larger ISO with an entirely different way of doing business, and you've received no guidance on how the new system works.
It's different for each of us, but these kinds of things can throw us off our game or sometimes even prevent us from jumping in at all. So what can you do if you're stuck in one area of your business?
It helps to remember the age-old wisdom of Lao Tzu, who said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." And one way to put that into action is to take a micro-step: identify one ridiculously easy thing you can do that will take you one increment toward your next milestone.
"Micro-actions are like magic," wrote business consultant and leadership coach Rene Burgett, owner of 3R Coach in Nashville. "The moment you commit to action, no matter how small, you put your goal in motion. You tell the universe, 'I'm ready to make things happen.'"
The types of possible micro actions are legion. Let's say your desk is so messy you feel disgruntled when you enter your office. You can't even find your to-do list amid the papers covering the surface. One micro-action could be to straighten a small section of your desk ‒ one square foot or less ‒ and stop. Then do the same every day until you've organized your entire desk, one micro-step at a time.
Or maybe you've received several referrals from satisfied merchants but haven't pursued them because you've spent all your sales time recently courting a major retailer. You fear it's been so long since you received the referrals, they've probably grown cold. An initial micro step could be to set your timer for ten minutes and read up on one of the prospects. On day two, analyze the information you gathered. The next day consider three ways you can help the merchant; the following day, phone the individual to make an appointment.
Here's a word of caution from Nelli Lähteenmäki, Aleksi Hoffman and Nora Rosendahl, founders of You-app, a company that strives to empower users to become happier, healthier versions of themselves through daily micro-actions: "Don't do it all at once. Pick one, try it consistently for a week, and feel the difference! If you like it, keep it up until it feels effortless. Then pick another."
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