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Want to be Successful in 2023? Think Small and Build Momentum Over Time

Famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, “People who succeed have momentum. The more you succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed.” 

With that being said, let’s address the elephant in the room… We’ve all dealt with the following situation. When presented with a problem that requires behavior change, we tackle it with big goals, and if we’re being honest, this generally leads us to finding ourselves locked in a self-defeating cycle. In a perfect world, moving into the next year and reaching the halfway point would mean that we’re halfway through our 2023 goals, right? Not necessarily…

What if you constantly struggle with achieving your goals? Do you know what’s unconsciously stopping you? Maybe you feel like some goals are just too big? Or, have you heard in the past, you just didn’t “want it” bad enough?

I don’t consider myself an expert on motivational speaking or self-help doctrines, but I highly doubt it’s any of these things. In fact, I would extend myself to share something I learnt a couple years ago and say the greatest problem that’s been preventing you from accomplishing your biggest goals is the same as it was for me when I first started out: You’re just not thinking small enough.

Unlike what all the textbooks outline, it was once shared with me that the first step to success starts by thinking small. It’s a very unconventional way of thinking, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great to dream big. However, the way to achieve big is to start small and, as a result, form micro habits of success

When I first started out, year after year, I would set a ton of large goals. However, what I didn’t realize was the secret to achieving these goals not only starts in the mind (belief), but also coupling them with small goals and me forming micro habits. This was the key to EVERYTHING. 

The Basics: Understanding and Succeeding at Goal Setting

When establishing goals, it’s important to remember the Four Ps of goal setting. They need to be positive, personal, possible, and prioritized. The most important of those is possible!

As mentioned before, setting goals start in the mind and in simple terms based on belief (the state of being possible). To better understand this, think of belief like a muscle; and like all muscles, if we don’t use it, it will remain weak, useless and eventually will atrophy. Along the same lines, when we set big goals, we’re requiring ourselves to also have an equally large belief system. It doesn’t matter how much we “desire it,” or even “declare it,” all that matters is how much we BELIEVE it. It’s this true belief that affects ALL our actions. Let’s face facts, if you don’t have success with achieving small things, how can you believe you will succeed at something bigger?


Big Goals + Small Belief = Failure

Like a newborn, every accomplishment from day one is followed by repetition. As a child grows older, each time they accomplish something small, it’s met with acknowledgement and even rewards. This unconsciously builds their belief system. Eventually, a baby learns they can roll, crawl, walk and run. The average problem most of us have is we start out by setting a big goal. We tell ourselves, “I just need to stay motivated and focused,” and then we go through the taught steps: we write it down; proclaim it and start a map; we then take a couple steps, face our first setback or miss our first deadline and, for most of us, this is when we spiral off course. Sounds familiar? I get it, I have been there also, so, what’s the solution? 

Starting Small and What that Means

Start with a small goal. I’m talking SUPER small. For example, for me it’s drink more water; and if I’m being honest, that means starting with one glass per day. Yes, you read correct, one glass per day for me is a win! Small goals, super wins. So, here’s what I learned:

  • If your goal is to “lose 40 lbs.,” turn it into “eat one healthy breakfast this week.”
  • If your goal is to “own a house,” change it to “speak to a couple homeowners,” see what they did and experienced when they first started out.
  • If your goal is to “save $2,400 this year,” replace it with the knowledge that “there are 48 work weeks in a year – I am going to save $50 per week each time I am paid.”

Again, I’m not telling you to break your large goal into small sections; I’m saying start by making a smaller goal, one that is attainable/possible. It DOESN’T matter if they are unconnected to your big goal. The reasoning is simple, you need momentum, and nothing builds momentum like the process of accruing small successes. 

I encourage you to write this down: Momentum + Confidence = Success. Remember, the purpose of these smaller goals is not to get you closer to your major goal, but to massage your muscle called belief – the belief that you can accomplish goals. 

So, if you take nothing else away from my advice for 2023 remember this: When you want to change behavior, jumping in headfirst with both feet is often a waste of time. Instead, make small, incremental adjustments until they are part of your muscle memory. By starting small and gaining a few wins, you can attain big results. 

With that being said, I challenge you in 2023 to step out and make things happen.

Mercedes S. James is the marketing director at  AEM member company DSC Dredge. To learn more, visit

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