One of the first pieces of advice our upperclassmen gave us when we reported to The Citadelwas, “Don’t think about Recognition Day. Think about tomorrow. Think about the weekend. Think about Parent’s Day weekend.” At the time, Recognition Day was shortly before graduation, meaning 9 long months in a plebe system, a military system in addition to the rigors of attending college.
Our upperclassmen had been there. They knew that classmates that continually looked to the end of the 9 months didn’t make it. There was a transition point, when you get close enough to Recognition Day, that holding out for it keeps you motivated to continue in the Fourth Class System. However, that transition point is well into second semester and we were still in the midst of the two week training period before classes for the year began. Until then, you needed to focus on something else. Their suggestion was to set milestones around events that we were nearer to. Just making it to the weekend meant having survived another week at The Citadel. That was one more week than many others had done. That was one more week to add to your accomplishments. And adding that week meant that once again, you had proven you could make it. That was often enough motivation to take on the week to come.
Life is the same way. Most of us have big goals that are a long way off. I am far away from my ideal running weight. However, if I look at that big number, I’ll get discouraged and I’ll quit. That number is my final goal. In between I have set a number of milestones to remind me that I’m making progress, that I’m getting to where I want to be. Case in point: this weekend I had a certain set of goals in mind for my running. I accomplished them fairly easily. I am ahead of where I planned. That’s a good thing. Knowing that I passed my “test” easily has brought additional motivation to see my goal through to the final number. This is the power of a little victory.
In your goal planning, make sure you set milestones that measure your progress. Ensure you have these in order to achieve little victories. These little victories remind you that you can do it. They provide additional motivation to keep going. And they make the overall goal look more manageable and achievable. These little victories are crucial to accomplishing that bigger goal. Plan for them as you work your way to the final goal. Celebrate them as you accomplish them. Allow yourself to look back and see what you’ve done. Like finishing another week at The Citadel, those little victories should be a growing body of evidence that what you have purposed to do is not impossible. Set them and use them to keep moving forward.