Set big goals, but focus on the small steps

Last week, I wrote about understanding and living to your values. This week, I’d like to follow this up by discussing goal setting.

Once we understand our own unique set of values, we can begin to set the goals that will help us to move towards a life of fulfillment by honoring them – ideally longer term (10 years or more).

But, you may think, “I don’t want to wait ten years to feel fulfilled”.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to. The journey towards the destination is the key here, not the destination itself.

You WILL change.

Your values may change too, and therefore, in a year, three years, five years, your original long-term goal may change too.

What do I mean by this? Well, imagine you’re 21, and love music…in fact, it’s your number one value. Your ten year goal at this stage may be to headline Glastonbury, so you build a step-by-step list of goals to get there, something like:

  • 3 Months – Join or form a band
  • 6 Months – Play first gigs
  • 8 months – Record a demo
  • 1 Year – Get a recording contract
  • 18 Months – Release first album
  • 5 Years – Mercury Prize Nomination
  • 10 Years – Headline Glastonbury
goal setting

By the time you’re 25, though, you are a different person. Perhaps you’ve met the partner of your dreams, become a parent or become disillusioned with the music industry. Whatever, your life, and your values, have changed, and so can your end goal.

It doesn’t mean, though, that the efforts of the last four years were wasted. Maybe you only got three steps in before you changed your end goal – but the experience of being in a band, and the memories, will always be there. 

Is headlining Glastonbury within ten years really a SMART goal?

Let’s analyze it – it’s specific, measurable, relevant and timebound, but is it achievable? Well, yes…Billie Eilish headlined in 2022 at the age of just twenty, Stormzy in 2019 just five years after his first self-released tracks. 

That’s not to say it doesn’t fall under the category of a ‘BHAG’ – a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ (from the book ‘Built to Last’ by Collins and Porras). But that’s fine with a long-term goal. THINK BIG.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

The danger, though, is setting the short-term goals that are required to get there too big, and then giving in to fear of failure before we even start. The first step-goal in the Glasto plan is to join or form a band within three months – extremely achievable, definitely SMART.

Think of it like the first direction in a Google maps drive. There’s no need to worry about what the second direction is until you’ve navigated the first…and, if you decide to change destination, so what? You’ve seen some scenery that you’ve never seen before, and you’ve moved to somewhere different.

Every year, check your values, and check your long-term goals, and adjust your 10-year destination and step-goals accordingly.

Enjoy the journey. Getting to the destination is secondary.

If you’d like to work with me on goal setting, or understanding your values, feel free to schedule some time to chat at

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