The Power Of Subgoals In Tackling Monumental Tasks


The Power Of Subgoals In Tackling Monumental Tasks

By Geralde Vincent-Bancroft

There’s something incredibly daunting about big goals. Whether it’s learning a new language, running a marathon, or writing a novel, just starting can often feel like standing at the base of a colossal mountain, looking up.

 However, there’s a tool in our goal-setting toolbox that’s often overlooked but incredibly powerful — subgoals.

green typewriter and on a white page written the power of subgoals in tackling monumental tasks

Breaking It Down: Subgoals as Stepping Stones

The Secret to Accomplishing Big Goals Lies in Breaking Them into Flexible, Bite-Size Chunks. 

The beauty of subgoals is that they simplify what seems like an insurmountable task into manageable pieces. But it’s not just about making the goal seem easier; it’s about changing our approach to achieving it.

Research suggests that when we set subgoals, we’re more likely to commit to small, immediate actions towards our larger goal, which is significantly less intimidating than the idea of dedicating immense amounts of time or resources at once. 

Essentially, subgoals reframe our perspective, encouraging us to focus on the present steps instead of being overwhelmed by the final destination.

Why Do Subgoals Work?

Subgoals work for a number of reasons:

  • Immediate gratification: Completing subgoals provides a sense of achievement and progress, fueling our motivation  to continue.
  • Less daunting: Smaller, defined objectives feel more achievable  than vague, grand ambitions.
  • Flexibility: Subgoals allow for adjustments along the way, ensuring that setbacks  don’t derail the entire project.

Real-Life Application: Learning Languages

Take, for instance, the ambitious goal of becoming fluent in Russian. For a beginner, the thought of needing over 1,000 hours of study can be overwhelming. It’s a goal that’s easy to give up on before even making a start.

However, by setting subgoals, such as dedicating specific amounts of time each day or week to study, the task becomes less about the enormity of the goal (fluency) and more about consistency and effort in the short term.

 This approach not only makes the goal seem more attainable but also keeps motivation high as each subgoal is achieved.

Crafting Effective Subgoals

To make the most of subgoals, consider the following tips:

  • Be Specific: Vague plans lead to vague results. Define what each subgoal will look like. Be specific about what you want to achieve and why it matters to you.
  • Break it down into smaller, achievable tasks: Identify the key steps you need to take to reach your goal.
  • Make It Measurable: Ensure that you can objectively determine when a subgoal has been achieved.
  • Set a Timeline: Deadlines can foster a sense of urgency and keep the momentum going. Assign deadlines for each subgoal to keep yourself on track.
  • Be Flexible: Be prepared to adjust your subgoals as needed. Progress is rarely a straight line.
  • Celebrate your progress: Don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate each completed subgoal. This positive reinforcement can boost our confidence and belief in our ability to achieve the larger goal.

Final Thoughts: The Journey Is Yours

Every big achievement is a sum of its parts. The process of breaking down your mountain into hills and then into manageable trails isn’t just a strategy; it’s a mindset shift. 

By setting subgoals, you not only make your grand ambitions more attainable but you also transform the very nature of the goal itself — from intimidating to invigorating.

Remember, the path to achieving great things is paved with many small steps. Each subgoal achieved is a victory in its own right, a celebration of progress. And who knows? One day, you might just find yourself at the top of that mountain, looking back in wonder at the journey you’ve taken.

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