How to break down goals bit by bit?

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Size tricks our minds. The enormity of a challenge or goal deflates the enthusiasm. You may toil long enough and yet feel there’s no progress. Well, as they say, Rome was not built in a day. It helps to break down goals bit by bit.

Can you eat a 12 inch pizza in a single bite?

You need to cut the pizza into slices and take a few bites. The smaller bites let you savor the taste. The bite by bite eating works for a pizza and all food.

The bit by bit works for goals too. Be it life or work, we need to trick our mind by breaking down goals and challenges into smaller helpings.

Most ‘impossible’ goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite-size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine.

Don Lancaster, American author and microcomputer pioneer.

How to break down goals?

The answer is in the details. Zoom in to reveal the smaller bits of your goal. A bird’s eye view of the goal is no help. Zoom in. Get up close. How?

Start with writing down the goal. Then work on breaking down the goal into smaller manageable bits. When you look close enough and try to break down the goals, you will reveal the several blocks that have been put together. Like so many small pieces of a puzzle put together to complete the picture.

Let us look at a couple of real world examples.

Example 1: Book reading resolution

“Read more” is one the most common new year resolutions. People want to read more books but struggle to keep up.

Why do they struggle? Reading a book after all is not that difficult.

The challenge as I said lies in the “enormity of the task”.

“I will read 25 books this year” sounds like a good new year resolution. Reading more has many benefits. Reading is a great exercise for the brain. It reduces stress and makes us wiser.

People who want to take up reading as a regular hobby will do well to break down this goal into smaller daily tasks.

Instead of setting a goal of “reading 25 books this year”, set a goal of “reading 25 pages every day”. Given below is a break down:

New Year ResolutionRead 25 new books in a year
GoalRead 25 pages daily
Average reading speed30 pages per hourTime to read 25 pages – 1 hour
Average number of pages300 pages per book
Days to complete 1 book12 Days(300 pages / 25 per day)
Books read in 1 year30 Books(365 days / 12 per book)
How to read more books?

If you set yourself a simple task of reading 25 pages a day, and if you read every day, you will be able to complete reading 30 books in a year. Even if you decided to skip Sundays (52 days in a year), you would finish reading 26 books in a year. That is one more than the resolution of 25 book a year.

Another distinct advantage of breaking down the book reading goal is the ability to monitor the progress.

Prepare a simple daily progress tracker as given below. One box for each day of the month. Put a green tick for days you accomplish your daily task of reading 25 pages. Put a red cross for days you don’t.

break down goals by tracking daily progress
My Daily Reading Tracker

Place the chart on a wall in your bedroom. This will serve as a visual reminder. Too many reds will be a glaring reminder staring at you right in your own bedroom. Keep a track of your weekly success rate. How many days in the week did you read 25 pages.

  • 3 out of 7 days – 43%
  • 6 out of 7 days – 86%
  • 7 out of 7 days – 100%

Reward yourself for a score of 80% or more. Consecutive weeks with more than 80% – you deserve a greater reward 😊

Example 2: Break down a sales goal

You have asked Nidhi, your top sales manager, to double her monthly sales revenue. Let’s say she averages $5000 per month. The goal is to get sales worth $10,000 next month.

How does Nidhi double her average monthly sales? She needs a plan. She needs a realistic shot at meeting the target. Let us break down the goal and set a plan.

Sales Goal$10,0002x of average monthly sales
Average monthly sales$5,000
Average order value$500
Number of orders required20(10000 / 500)
Lead conversion rate10%
New leads required20020 orders / 10% conversion
Leads required daily8200 leads / 25 working days
Calls to lead conversion25%
Calls to be made per day328 leads / 25% call conversion
Sales goal break down

Nidhi has a proven sales record. She excels at understanding buyer needs, customizing the service proposals and closing the sale.

The table above breaks down the $10,000 sales goal into having 32 new conversations each day.

This allows Nidhi and the company clear insights into the chances of meeting the goals.

Do they have enough customer data to talk to 32 new customers every day?

How much time does it take to complete 32 calls? If every conversation lasts 20 minutes, Nidhi would need more than 10 hours on the phone. That does not sound like a good plan.

Do we need to assign another resource to Nidhi for qualifying prospective customers? Someone to filter probable buyers? That would help Nidhi spend her time with interested buyers. Certainly a better utilization for her time.

An extra resource or two would add to the cost? Does increase in sales justify adding one or two sales reps?

Writing down the goals and breaking it down lets you probe all the elements needed to meet your target. The result is a better plan and a better probability of meeting the goal.

  1. Increase the sales to $10,000 per month.
  2. Talk to 32 new prospects every day.

The second task seems a lot more achievable. Given the past sales record, if the team manages to make 32 calls a day, they would end up getting $10,000 in sales.

Start the other way round and you may be struggling by middle of the month with a lot of unanswered questions.

Conclusion

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Every goal needs a plan. When you break down goals into smaller tasks, you can assess every element of the plan and can foresee challenges in your path. Prepare well and you will succeed more often.

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” – Greg S. Reid

How do you break down your goals?

By Nitesh Verma

Founder - Business Management Blog. I am an independent business strategy consultant, helping companies take data driven business decisions. My mission is to find and implement simple solutions for complex business problems.

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