Micro-Goals for Micro-Progress

About a month ago, I discovered an article in the New York Times about accomplishing goals.

I like reading the “smarter living” articles that newspapers usually publish, but they aren’t always new information for me. This article, however, was super insightful!

In short, it is about achieving goals & motivation. It introduces the topic of “micro-progress” and how you’re more likely to achieve x, y, and z when you break it down into tinier goals that you can easily check off the to-do list.


What is the idea here?

“For any task you have to complete, break it down into the smallest possible units of progress and attack them one at a time.”

These tinier tasks are supposed to be much easier to finish. When you finish them, you are getting a rush of dopamine and confidence. And this directly translates into motivation to complete more tasks!

Even if you are only completing a few tiny tasks a day, you are left feeling a lot more confident than if reaching the end of the day and saying, “I feel like I didn’t get anything done” or “I barely made a dent in ____.”

That being said, you feel a lot more accomplished, at the least, but the article actually argues you actually are more productive the you are doing this because of the psychology behind it.

Also, the author suggest that even writing a title of a project can be an easy goal to accomplish. This reminds me of my post about starting a mathematical proof.

“That means that once you start that PowerPoint you’re dreading, even if all you’ve done is give it a name, that micro-progress can continue to build on itself until you’ve finally finished that last slide.”


Curious what this means for me?

I’ve got a big week of packing this week. I also want to focus on my physical and mental health. Last night, I told myself “You need to sell stuff this week” and “You need to get back on track with exercising.”


Yes, these things are do-able. But I don’t even know where to start. Here’s a list of my min goals for the micro-progress in each category.

Sell Stuff:

  1. write a list of the items you want to sell this week
  2. price each item on that list
  3. circle the items you think you can actually sell
  4. take a picture of an item you want to sell
  5. post it on buy / sell online group
  6. make a calendar to fill in the meet-up times for selling

I already finished the 1st step yesterday, so today I am going to price everything – which seems super do-able and is something I can get done in just a few minutes!


  1. figure out which workout I want to do today (run? fitness blender? walk? bike ride? yoga?)
  2. put on my workout clothes (this always helps me get started)
  3. charge up my phone and pick a playlist
  4. do the workout

Step 1 seems like something I can incorporate into my morning ritual and it won’t take very much time or effort. I love that!

Tell me:

What is a big goal you have for yourself this week? Can you break it down into tinier goals? Do you think small goals are easier to work with? How do you handle the overwhelming stress of giant goals?