5 Easy Steps to Reach Big Goals in Less Time

5 Easy Steps to Reach Big Goals in Less Time

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Managing your time these days has you feeling crazy, am I right? Balancing all the things on your to-do list is an ongoing feat. To make the absolute best use of our time, we have to have a clear grasp on what our priorities are. And to be able to choose our priorities for the day or the week, we have to identify our big picture goals — the main things we want to accomplish in the next year.

Then we deconstruct those big goals into the specific tasks and actions that will lead to them getting done. It makes that great big goal a lot less scary and gives us a clear path to the win.

And it also helps us choose our priorities from day-to-day. When we’re clear about what’s important to us, it’s easier to say no to what’s not.

I call these great big goals that usually span a few months to a year Mountain Goals.

The steps of the process are:

  1. Name Your Mountain
  2. Break the Mountain into Boulders
  3. Break the Boulders into Stones
  4. Build a Timeline
  5. Break the Stones into Pebbles

1. Name Your Mountain

It could be starting your own business. Writing a book. Producing an event. Creating a new product. Any big goal that can’t be accomplished in one sitting or with one action.

Achieving a Mountain Goal doesn’t have to be an impossible dream. You just have to make it tangible. Use these 4 simple steps to deconstruct your big goals to take them from impassable to completely doable. Let’s take writing (and publishing) a book. I’ll use this as an example because I’ve heard many people say, “I want to write a book one day,” as an airy, dreamy wish that will just magically happen at the right time without an effort. 

mountain as metaphor to deconstruct big goals

Mountain Goals are achieved rock by rock. In place of a sledgehammer, you’ll use your brain as the tool to break your Mountain Goal into what I call Boulder Goals

2. Break the Mountain into Boulders

In the case of publishing a book, if that’s our Mountain Goal, what are the Boulder Goals we will break it into? List it out. In the case of writing a book, it might look something like this:

  • Research the ideas for the book.
  • Plan the content and outline.
  • Lots of writing and editing.
  • Selecting or creating illustrations.
  • Formatting for print and formatting for digital.
  • Creating cover art.
  • For self-publishing, we’ll need to submit and fill out whatever forms are needed, and make sure our final product is ready to go.
  • Upload and submit.
  • Approve proof copy and the book is ready to go up for sale.

Each of those things are Boulder Goals. They are still each decently big goals, but I have deconstructed our big vision into actual steps. Now it feels more real. I can start to see a process.


Identifying those 9 or 10 goals has made it more achievable, but they still feel somewhat large, and looking at all of these at once may still feel overwhelming. But you don’t write a book by doing all of these at once. You start with the first Boulder. And you break the Boulder into Stone Goals.

3. Break the Boulders into Stones

Let’s look at that first Boulder Goal: “Research the ideas for the book.” What are the smaller pieces of this goal? It might look something like this:

  • Read a few articles.
  • Look up scientific studies.
  • Watch a couple videos on my topic.
  • Conduct interviews with sources.

The more specific you can be as you identify the tasks, the easier it is to wrap your brain around it and the less overwhelming it will feel. If you look at the list above, you’ll notice it’s not super-specific. It feels a little undefined. How will I know when this phase is done? For better clarity, I’ll add some more detail so it looks like this:

  • Read 10-15 articles.
  • Look up 4-5 scientific studies.
  • Watch 5 videos on my topic.
  • Conduct 10 interviews with sources.

As I’m identifying my Stone Goals (and getting specific), I’m starting to get a clearer picture of the Timeline I will create to accomplish each task.

woman chiseling stone as metaphor to deconstruct big goals

4. Build a Timeline

There are essentially 2 ways to go about making a timeline for your Mountain Goal. The first is to start with the end and work your way back. The second is to start at the beginning and work your way forward.

I’ll explain.

I wrote a book with my husband on a learning method in 2016 (BAM: Bold Achievement Method), and we started our project timeline from the end. My husband made a commitment to having 200 books in the hands of the attendees for a speaking engagement at the end of the year. The moment he said yes to that commitment, he created a firm 7-month timeline for us to get the project done. 

So we created our Boulder Goals and worked backward from that end date. We had less flexibility this way, but our firm deadline was also a catalyst to get the project done. We were obligated and held accountable by an external source — our client! At the time we started, our first son was also about 3 months old. There’s no way we would have gotten the book finished without that external deadline.

Start from the end and work backward

When you have a firm completion date for your goal, you are able to look at the tasks in reverse order. “Completing our book” meant having printed copies delivered to the client by that end date. So we had to factor in placing the order for the books and shipping them. Then we had to factor in the submission process and approval process for our book to the publishing portal (Amazon’s CreateSpace). We also chose to factor in 2 weeks to allow for delays.

timeline to deconstruct big goal

We were able to create deadlines for each of those items and continue working backward. At this point, we were essentially making deadlines for each of our Boulder Goals. By using this process, we determined the amount of time we had for the actual writing, giving us a framework and the accountability to stay on task.

Our dream goal was becoming a reality. It took hard work and effort (and yes, oftentimes working when we were tired and wanted to quit.) But it was tangible, concrete, and achievable.

Without a timeline and deadlines, we sometimes drag a project on and on, stuck in a perfection mindset and afraid to reach completion and release it to the world. 

You can use the start from the end method even if you don’t have an external deadline. You will need to set the “finish” deadline yourself. I suggest putting this on your calendar and telling others about your goal. Create accountability with a partner (preferably someone who is also working towards a goal so you can hold each other accountable). You can also start or join a Mastermind group. Just don’t keep the goal to yourself!

Start from the beginning and work forward

If you use the alternate method of starting at the beginning, make sure you don’t leave it open-ended. You still want to set the deadline for completion. This means laying out all your Boulder Goals and breaking them into Stone Goals (even if you aren’t sure of the exact steps). By doing this, you can create a reasonable deadline.

Before I wrote a book, I hadn’t thought out what all the steps would be. It took some research and talking to others to find out exactly what was involved in the entire process. You may find yourself in the same boat. Figure this into the process! 

pebbles on a beach

5. Break the Stones into Pebbles

Okay, remember our Boulder Goal “Research ideas for the book”? Remember how we broke that down into 4 Stone Goals? Now it’s time to break those Stone Goals down into Pebbles. This is where we actually assign those tasks to specific days and times into our calendar, using the timeline and deadlines we created as a guide.

Sometimes I actually print out a blank monthly calendar so that I can see the whole month in one glance and pencil in those goals. You could also do this in your computer calendar, but either way, make it concrete.

To refresh, here was that set of Stone Goals from earlier:

  • Read 10-15 articles.
  • Look up 4-5 scientific studies.
  • Watch 5 videos on my topic.
  • Conduct 10 interviews with sources.

The image above is what it looks like written out on the monthly calendar. I will spread the 10 interviews across 2 weeks — 1 each weekday. And I will divide the other 3 Stone Goals across the other 3 weeks, allowing a 3-day block for articles, 3 days for videos, and 2 days for studies. I will leave 3 additional days for preparing for and scheduling the interviews and 1 day to organize all the information. And 1 day off.

Now take action!

Things are starting to really look doable now! It’s not overwhelming and it’s not a mystery. I have deconstructed my huge Mountain Goal into actual, real steps onto actual, real days of the week in a specific month, and I am very close to taking action. It’s not a big question mark in my head anymore. The path is clearly laid out in front of me.

You have taken a Mountain and turned it into Pebbles! Bit by bit.

And those Pebbles will become your daily priorities. With a clear system of goal deconstruction, reaching your goals in less time is totally possible. It reduces fear and doubt, minimizes confusion, and gives you a clear direction. 

Now all that’s left is taking the actions. (Speaking of actions… do me a favor and share this post on your social media or Pinterest? Thanks!)

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Cyndi Harvell Lee

I'm an artist, musician, and mother of two boys. My goal is to help you keep your sanity, find your peace, and thrive on this wild journey called Motherhood.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great read. Very helpful.

  2. Love your goal setting methods!

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