How to Turn Big Goals into Achievable Tasks

How to Turn Big Goals into Achievable Tasks

If you want to make progress you must learn how to turn big goals into achievable tasks. Have you ever looked at your to-do list and thought, “I don’t even know where to begin”? We all have. But here’s something you may not know: We get overwhelmed not because there are too many things on that list, but because what’s on your list is not actionable.

For example, if your to-do list says something like, “New website,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. A new website is not something you can just do. A new website is a project, not a “to-do.”  It requires several steps to complete, and likely several days or weeks of time. When it appears on your to-do list, it’s destined to be the thing that gets pushed back to tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. Because it’s just not doable.

The key to getting more done? Recognize those overwhelming projects and turn them into doable tasks instead, in other words, turn big goals into achievable tasks.

Here’s how to quickly tell the difference:

A task begins with a verb. “Buy a domain” is a task. “Install WordPress” is a task. “Order a logo” is even a task. And when you put them all together (with some others) they equal “New website.”

A project or a goal is a set of related tasks that cannot be completed all at one time. You probably can’t sit down and build a new website in an afternoon. You can’t write a book in a day or two.

So when your goal is big, such as developing a new website or writing a book or creating a new ecourse, it helps to break those projects down into small, actionable tasks before adding them to your to-do list.

How to Turn Big Goals into Achievable Tasks

Think about the actual steps that need to happen to reach your goal. Do you need to order a book cover or outline the content or contact someone for an interview? Those are all things that fit on your to-do list. Put them together in the correct order, and you’ve got a project. Complete them one at a time, on time, and you’ve completed your goal by your deadline.

To map out your plan for achieving your goal, follow these steps:

  1. List out all the tasks that must be completed before you can say you’ve reached your goal or finished your project.
  2. Consider how long it might take to complete each task. Some will take minutes, others might take several hours or even a whole day, but you should be able to “ballpark it” to figure out just how long your goal will take to reach.
  3. Grab your calendar and start making notes about what task will be completed by which dates. This will help you set a realistic goal for the entire project.
  4. Add only the actionable steps to your current to-do list. Tasks that you can’t do yet don’t belong on your list, just as the goal itself doesn’t. These things aren’t actionable (yet) so don’t clutter up your space and head with them.

When you turn big goals into achievable tasks, you get focused and get more done. When you’re only worried about the next small step, it’s much easier to continue, than when you’re constantly looking at the horizon and not seeing much progress.

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Till Next time

Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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12 thoughts on “How to Turn Big Goals into Achievable Tasks

  1. Great advice that’s been missing from a lot of other conversations I’ve seen on the topic. One of the first things I try to address with people who are struggling is that they can’t expect to fit 30 hours of tasks into a 24-hour day, but I love how you go further to break down the tasks to see their time cost more clearly. Good planning needs to start from honest assessment.
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  2. This is exactly what hit me over the Christmas break – my to do list is was really stressing me out, so I stopped using it which stressed me out even more! As you say, it wasn’t actionable, it was just a brain dump. I’ve improved it a lot but I’m going to pay attention to the tips in this post to see if I can improve it some more.

  3. Great post and so true. It’s much easier to break down a larger task into easy to manage steps or portions. This way you also feel as though you are actually making progress on a project.

  4. Mike, love this post.. It is true for me that sometimes I write my to do list and need to actually break down some of the tasks more, as those are the ones that do not end up being achieved! Thank you, a rather insightful post, as always!

  5. LOVE this – so true. It is so easy to scribble a project on a list as though it’s one thing, without breaking it down. And then never, ever do it.