Setting Micro-Goals for Macro Results
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Setting Micro-Goals for Macro Results

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Setting Micro-Goals for Macro Results

Posted 2 years ago

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton


Dr. Kevin R. Gendreau

Dr. Kevin R. Gendreau

Author and Scientific Reviewer

Expert Approved

We all have goals in life. And we all know that achieving them requires a series of smaller achievements. 

That’s where micro-goals come in. They’re the smallest, most achievable form of goal. 

Over time, micro-goals can lead to macro results. Rack up enough small wins, and you’ll eventually win big.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set, track, and achieve micro-goals to support your long-term health journey. 

On Setting Goals

If you want to achieve something in life, it helps to know WHAT you want to achieve. In other words, it helps to have a goal. 

Goals can be short-term or long-term. For instance, you might aim to arrive 15 minutes early for a job interview. This goal will guide your subsequent actions—shortening your shower, skipping the newspaper, sprinting down the sidewalk like a wild antelope, etc.—so you won’t be late.   

Longer-term, you might set a goal to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year. Again, this goal will influence behaviors such as macro tracking, exercising, and portion management.

The ultimate wellness goal is to become a healthier version of ourselves. We all want to look, feel, and perform better. We want to have better energy, get better sleep, lose more body fat, and think more clearly. 

But these can feel like overwhelming objectives. It helps to break them down.  

What are Micro-Goals?

Micro-goals are small goals in service of a larger endgame. They help take lofty goals out of the clouds and into the world of possibility. 

Recall the lofty goal from the previous section: becoming a healthier version of yourself? Having some version of this goal is important. The intention to prioritize your health goes a long way.

But intention doesn’t always translate into action. You might want to get better sleep, but struggle to take any meaningful action to make it happen. 

Micro-goals are those meaningful actions. It’s cutting off the coffee at 11 AM, flipping off the TV at 9 PM, and getting in bed by 10 PM. Small, achievable steps. 

You can also think of micro-goals as tools for developing better systems. Goals are where you want to go. Systems are what get you there. 

Goals merely provide the direction. Systems are the behaviors that move the needle. 

And micro-goals can help you install these behaviors. The easier you make the behavior, the more likely you’ll perform it.  

If you want to develop a meditation routine, don’t start with a ten-day silent retreat. Start with two minutes of conscious breathing per day. Work up to the big stuff later.   

Why Use Micro-Goals?

Micro-goals are a powerful tool in your quest for personal improvement. Let’s explore four reasons why. 

#1: They’re achievable 

It’s okay to have ambitious goals. They can provide direction in your life. 

The problem is, falling short of these targets can make you feel like a failure. You might even feel like a failure on the way to the goal because you haven’t achieved it yet. 

That’s not a mental stance we want to cultivate. Most of us are already too hard on ourselves, and obsessing over seemingly overwhelming goals just adds fuel to the fire. Easily achievable micro-goals avoid this pitfall. 

#2: They’re flexible

Flexible goal setting is important. Things don’t always work out as planned, and it’s important to adapt. 

The smaller the goal, the easier it is to change. For instance, a micro-goal of eating 100 fewer calories per day can easily be modified (to say, 150 fewer calories per day) if you aren’t getting results

#3: They’re self-reinforcing

Achievement provides its own reward. Every time you achieve a micro-goal, your brain releases feel-good chemicals. 

One of these chemicals is dopamine. Merely checking a micro-goal off your list releases dopamine, which in turn reinforces the behavior.[*

#4: They lead to good habits

If you perform a behavior enough times, it will become habitual. You won’t need to set micro-goals anymore. Your routine will handle itself. 

A micro-goal is a bite-sized step that contributes to your bigger and more ambitious end goal. Here are some health-related examples: 

  • Ambition: Lose twenty pounds by summer
  • Micro-goal: Eat 100 fewer calories per day

  • Ambition: Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Micro-goal: Shut down electronics at 9 PM

  • Ambition: Fast for 36 hours every other day
  • Micro-goal: Go from dinner to breakfast on weekdays without snacking

  • Ambition: Develop a daily yoga practice
  • Micro-goal: Do a 15-minute virtual yoga class every Monday

Micro-goals are manageable, practical, and achievable. But that doesn’t mean they manage themselves. 

How To Track Micro-Goals

As the old business maxim goes: “what gets measured, gets managed.” If you want to achieve a goal, it’s essential to measure your progress. 

Measuring your progress helps reinforce the desired behavior. When you see yourself moving in the right direction, you’re motivated to keep going. 

Feel free to track your progress with pen and paper. That’s the old-fashioned way, and it can certainly work. 

But why not make your life easier and use the Carb Manager app? By logging your eating, fasting, exercise, and sleep habits, you’ll supercharge your efforts to improve your health. 

You can go as deep as you like with it. In the Basic (free) version, you can log foods, track weight, and record exercise. And in the Premium version, your tracking ability expands to sleep, intermittent fasting, cholesterol, insulin, ketones, micronutrients, body measurements, and much more. 

In other words, Carb Manager has everything you need to set and achieve micro-goals on your way to better health. 

Succeeding with Micro-Goals

Achieving a micro-goal can seem trivial. You probably won’t brag to your friends about meditating for 2 minutes.  

But you can’t run a marathon without taking that first step. Every big success starts small. 

Micro-goals not only help you achieve the bigger goals in life, but they also enhance your enjoyment of the process. Now that’s a formula for success. 

Comments 8

  • Denisemassier

    Denisemassier 8 months ago

    Hi there, I’m 56 and in menopause trying to figure out my macros . It is suggested a higher carb limit. Is there someone that can help me with this?

    • AwesomeKale206379

      AwesomeKale206379 a year ago


      • MarvellousAvocado729125

        MarvellousAvocado729125 2 years ago

        I don’t meet my fat or protein intake daily. Is this going to create a problem? I started Keto diet 2 weeks ago.

        • KosiKeto

          KosiKeto a year ago

          I've been at this for 2 months and am still learning, I was told to not worry about fat as I have enough stored. They said to think of fat and proteins as guides and carbs as a limit. Try to meet the goal, but I really don't think you will gain or get out of ketosis if you are close. To increase fat try fat bombs, they're very tasty but watch your calories, peanut butter by the spoonful, MCT oil, and add butter on things you are eating. You can add nuts, but they will also increase your carbs.

        • Robin

          Robin 2 years ago

          I'm still trying to figure this out one goes up then need to get for fat lost

      • SpectacularMacadamia257122

        SpectacularMacadamia257122 2 years ago

        I been tracking for about 3 wks now n I keep.going over my protein for the day tryi g to get my fat intake up...I don't know what to do

        • IncredibleKale837830

          IncredibleKale837830 2 years ago

          I put MCT oil in my coffee. It is tasteless.

        • OutstandingAvocado872947

          OutstandingAvocado872947 2 years ago

          add nuts, almond butter, avacdo's etc