What is your vision of the future? Where do you dream of being 10 years from now?
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” - Bill Gates
Setting life changing and awe-inspiring goals often sounds very much like dreaming. The enormity of the goal is so daunting we don’t always know where to start. In these situations we also need to set milestones, smaller markers of progress that are more manageable.
The Reason for Milestones
Milestones serve a few essential purposes in goal setting. First, milestones provide a closer range target to aim for. This helps shrink the gap between where you are, and where you are trying to reach. Making the goal less daunting enables you to plan the action steps easier, and helps you keep motivation. As you progress towards a shorter range milestone, your progress is more easily seen, reinforcing that your efforts are making an impact.
Milestones also provide something to celebrate. While achievement is certainly an important element for finding fulfillment, celebrating the smaller wins along the way keeps the journey light and fun. Your BHAG’s and long range vision shouldn’t feel like a chore, it should feel like you are doing exactly what you were put here to do.
Milestones in Action
For this example, let’s look at my BHAG. Within the next 10 years, by 2030, I am going to help 1 million people find greater success. I will help these million achievers through my speaking, writing, and online courses. Even as I write these words, I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with excitement, and the nagging thoughts in the back of my head asking, how? 1 million people is a lot of people. And that is where milestones come in.
To reach 1 million people in the next 10 years, I need milestones to let me know that I am on track. Therefore my first milestone is to reach 100 weekly readers, then 500, then 1,000, and so forth. Each of these milestones is small enough to be attainable, yet each milestone drives the needle towards my BHAG. Of course, for a BHAG of helping 1 million people find greater achievement in their lives there will be many more milestones along the way. But starting small with a list of 100 is something that I can achieve in the short term. It’s something that I can celebrate. It’s something that will motivate me to hit my next milestone of 500 subscribers.
Where to begin with your Milestones?
When getting started with any new goal, it is important to provide yourself a quick win. It would be entirely logical to say 1,000,000 divided by 10, is 100,000 people impacted per year. But when starting from 0, even that seems like a big goal. Since success breeds more success, the first 100 will be harder than the first 1,000, and so on. As I build momentum, recognizing what works, and what doesn’t, I’ll be able to refine my strategies.
More Milestones in Action
Assume you set a career BHAG to become a Director of Sales in 10 years. Starting in an entry level inside sales role, your next milestone isn’t to become a Director. Your next milestone is to develop the skills that will help you succeed as a sales executive. Once you have the skills to succeed at the next level, you will be able to effectively grow into that new role. Hitting that milestone, celebrating, and setting your sights on the next set of skills that you’ll need. In that case, it might be better communication and leadership skills. Step by step, milestone by milestone, you will progress towards your BHAG, refining your process and abilities as you grow.
What is Your Next Milestone?
Now it’s your turn. What is your BHAG? Now what one small win can you achieve in the next 1-3 months that will help fuel that fire inside of you? That quick win is your first milestone, followed by the next win, and the next. As you grow and develop, that mountain of a goal you originally set seems to get smaller and more surmountable each step of the way.
As you knock milestones down, you become more of who you were meant to be. And that’s certainly something worth celebrating!