Why small goals are the best

The Value of Going Small with Your Goals

by Kamia Taylor

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My family was run by a driven, ambitious Navy commander who taught me to get things done in a big way. We constantly heard, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Those lessons served me in a highly competitive, project-driven environment, but didn't help at all in real life. I couldn't deal with situations that felt doomed from the beginning or were boring and repetitive. Either I quit or procrastinated until a crisis compelled my attention.

I wasn't a slob. Things would just slide. I was "busy" completing real assignments. When my account was overdrawn, there was a project I could sink my teeth into by completely revamping my finances. If friends were coming, I completely cleaned the house. But then the slide began again. I only valued completing major tasks and seeing major improvements.

It wasn't until a drunk driver on the wrong side of a country road put me into a wheelchair that I learned one of the most valuable life lessons, and that's the value of going small.

Physical therapy for the severely injured can be depressing. Imagine trying to push through excruciating pain. Add the emptiness of knowing you will never be the person you were, coupled with unfavorably comparing your today to your past. In many cases, it is difficult to find measureable goals or a meaningful life for those who have suffered severe injuries. In most cases, it is hard to convince yourself that any of it matters. After all, no one can promise major improvement.

As an injured person, I had to find some reason for being if I was to survive after the injury. I had to push through all the difficulties that a disability brings. Either I move forward or slide back. And through this training, I found a whole new way of looking at things.

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Before, if I didn't walk a mile a day, I hadn't vigorously exercised. Now, if I could walk four steps, it was great! Taking five steps was amazing. Adding two steps each day was a real triumph! And my fellow rehab participants? The person with spinal damage who could wiggle a finger? Incredible! Learning one new letter of the Braille alphabet for the newly-blind? Amazing! We celebrated each improvement, no matter how small or unimportant it might have been to an able-bodied person.

In doing so, I learned that doing one small step beyond what I did before was success. I didn't have to be perfect or the best. The goal was just to be better and just to do that one thing more, no matter how minor it might seem.

You had your goals. But not achieving your goals just meant you had another shot the next day...and the day after that.

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