Jan 6, 2023

How to Set Slow Goals for Long Success

I had the BEST plan for 2022. The last week of December 2021, I reflected and planned and word-of-the-yeared and vision-boarded. Business goals, personal goals, physical goals…all of it Beautiful! Wonderful! Amazing! 

I had two big physical goals: move my body every day and sleep more. And New Year’s Eve 2021, I came down with COVID.

I spent ten days isolated in my office, feeling fine but overthinking all. the. things. My conversations (in my head) sounded like this:

  • It won’t matter anyway. Nothing will be different.
  • I won’t get any visual results. Other people won’t be able to tell.
  • It’s too hard. It’s just not worth it.
  • It’s just easier to accept this. This status quo is fine.

And yet, I knew I wanted to feel energized, to be more connected with myself, and mostly, I wanted to believe I could create change in my life.

And isn’t that what you want too? To feel energized and alive in your life? To do connected and meaningful work as a leader? To believe change can actually happen?

But I often see these mistakes at beginning of the year when goals and resolutions take over our cultural conversation:

  • All-or-nothing thinking and rigidity.
  • Setting the wrong type of goal that isn’t aligned with the right thing.
  • Expecting too much too fast.

So the first week of January 2022, I was thinking…I’d missed it. It’s too late for me. I was falling into the all-or-nothing trap, ready to just go through the motions, disconnected from what I really wanted, and ultimately on the path to giving up.

But as I came out of my COVID cave, I realized a key truth:

 It’s never too late to be the most active participant in your own life.

I am the only one who can change me. And you are the only one who can change you.

Three steps to creating change:

1. Start with values.

Vision and goals don’t mean much if they are not aligned with what you truly value. Here’s a place to start with identifying your values. I recommend five or fewer values. (I know! It’s hard, but the clarity is worth it). And as you are wrestling down to five, ask yourself the question: “What do I really want?” And be honest with yourself. Any goal you set needs to be connected to your values.

2. Choose the right type of goal.

There are so many things out of your control. Anything that involves other people as part of the process is an outcome, but not a goal. Your goals need to be things you can control. I always suggest activity goals. Meaning, set a goal for a certain type of activity: make 20 new connections, read eight books, join a coaching program, end every meeting with action items, ask at least one question before giving your opinion. All of these goals are within your agency to complete.

3. Cultivate tiny habits.

Turn one or two activity goals into a small action each day. Start with 10 minutes or less and build from there. Some quick math: if you read 10 minutes each day, even if you think you’re a slow reader, you’ll finish the average 250-page book in just about a month. And if you miss a day or can only do 8 minutes, keep going. Tiny habits build long streaks of success. One day does make or break your goal.

And you might be thinking: “That’s so hard! I just want to pick a thing I want to do and go for it.”

That’s one way to do it. But you’ll probably end up like the 25% of people who fail in the first week or 80% who give up in 32 days. I promise,

This is the slow work that creates real change.

When I emerged on January 10, 2022, I chose to be the change agent in my life. It wasn’t too late. I could still work toward my goals. I aligned my daily movement with my values of flourishing and curiosity. In order to do my work well, I needed my body to work well. Not for what others could see, but for my own well-being. That’s flourishing. And for curiosity, I wonder what could happen? Aligning with my values changed the energy and direction of my goals.

So I started with just walking out the front door every day. Then I added to my time. Suddenly, I was at two weeks straight of walking six days a week. Then I was at two months. 

I was feeling energized, but not just because of the physical benefits: I had proved that I could create change.

Excited, I switched up my activities and added more time. In May, I started a streak of every day for at least 30 minutes. Today, Friday, January 6, 2023, is day 236 in a row.

That is the power of cultivating habits based on activity goals aligned with your values.

Imagine with me for a minute, what would your life as a leader could look like if you believed you could create change? What kind of energy would you have? What could your work look like? What could the ripple effects be in your team, your organization, and your family?

Whatever good just popped into your mind, you can create that. Start with these three steps:

Identify your values. Choose an activity goal. Create a tiny habit.

I believe you can do it. Email me and let me know your three. I’m cheering you on!


  1. […] week, I said meaningful goals start with values and beginning small. This week, I want to explore the deeper question, What are you trying to achieve with […]

  2. […] I started walking out the front door every day for a short walk. I added time and activities. In May of 2022, I started a streak of moving at least 30 minutes every day. While on vacation last month, I hit 365 days in a row. […]


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