How a Big Goal Can Drain Your Motivation

04.22.22 |

Goals are an important part of any journey. To chart a course, you have to know where you want to go before you can decide the best route. Even for a small road trip, you need to know your destination.

But this might sound familiar: You may have a dream vacation that has been on your bucket list for decades, such as visiting Europe or adventuring through a remote tropical jungle. You have a deep desire to bring these experiences to life, but when you start to map out everything you have to do to bring your dream to life, the trip can seem impossibly daunting.

You have to book the plane tickets.

You have to book the hotel.

You have to make sure you have your passport and all of the appropriate travel visas and paperwork.

You have to choose what attractions you want to see.

You have to decide how to navigate a language you might not know.

You have to find someone to watch your pets while you’re gone.

You have to plan far enough ahead that you can request the time off from work and coordinate with your travel partners around their schedules as well.

The actual travel could involve several hours on planes, an especially difficult challenge if you are nervous about flying.

That’s a lot of to-dos, and the size of that list is often so intimidating that many people never actually take the trips they want to take. They knew where they wanted to go, but the task was so big and complicated that any motivation they had to take on the challenge quickly fades.

The micro Habit Mindset

Big goals often have the surprising side effect of crippling our motivation, whether it’s a daunting international trip or aiming to finish a marathon when you haven’t run more than a mile since high school gym class or reaching your healthy weight after dozens of failed diets and fad workouts.

Setting a big goal is admirable, but your next step should be to set the smallest goal for yourself possible that still moves you toward that big goal, even if it’s in small increments.

If you want to run that marathon, start by walking more each day. Your first mini goal might be as small as a few thousand steps, but as long as you do more than you were doing before, you are making progress.

Your first goal should be so small, so easy to do, that failure is nearly impossible.

In Dr. A’s Habits of Health Transformational System, we call this a micro Habit of Health, and it’s a key tool for creating lasting, sustainable change. Talk to your health coach or dive into the system to learn more, but for now, start thinking about how you can take one of your big goals and break it into something that’s doable today.