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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

Micro Goals are the key to achieving your goals.

For your design business to succeed, you must set goals for yourself, and for those goals to be reached you need to break them down into micro goals.  

I've talked on a previous podcast episode about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for your design business, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Related. But even S.M.A.R.T. goals fail sometimes. That's where micro goals come in.

You need goals to measure your personal and professional success. Without them, it's much harder to know when you’ve reached a milestone or level of success. There’s a certain satisfaction in accomplishing goals. It has even been scientifically proven that accomplishing goals releases dopamine, a bodily chemical associated with happiness. 

Unfortunately, plenty of goals go unaccomplished. Mostly due to a lack of urgency. This happens when a person concentrates too much on reaching an end goal and not on the steps required to get there. Micro goals are the day to day steps needed to achieve those loftier end goals.  

For example, a person wanting to lose 100 pounds may feel like it's a daunting task. However, it will seem much easier to accomplish if they set micro goals to lose two pounds per week throughout a year.

Micro Goals give you a path.

The path to reaching a future goal isn't always clear. Micro goals act as stepping stones that help you along the way by showing what needs to be done tomorrow, today, or even right now. Since they are easier to concentrate on, there’s less chance you’ll lose focus on your micro goals.

If your goal is to start your design business within three months, what will you do between now and then? Perhaps some of your micro goals will look like these. 

  1. Choose a name for your business
  2. Complete and file business registration papers
  3. Acquire a domain name
  4. Set up email accounts for your new business
  5. Design a logo for your business
  6. Build a website
  7. Have business cards printed
  8. Open a business bank account
  9. Choose and set up an invoicing system

These micro goals act as reminders of the steps you need to take each day until you open your design business. 

Micro Goals give you a reminding push.

Because micro goals are small and easy to accomplish, they encourage you to start doing things now that may otherwise get pushed off. They act as reminders that these things need to get done to make progress towards your end goal. Micro goals are also reminders of the progress you are making as you complete each one. 

Without micro goals, you may fall victim to procrastinating. You may feel that a goal that is still months away isn’t a priority and you may delay working on it for another day, week or month. Micro goals keep you on track and help build momentum.  

Do you want to hear something funny? 

That momentum you gain by completing micro goals makes you feel good about each accomplishment and pushes you to do even more. That's the dopamine effect. Your body releases dopamine whenever you experience a pleasurable sensation, such as completing a micro goal. This effect is associated with your body's reward system motivating you to crave it even more. And that means a greater motivation to tackle the next micro goal to feel good again. 

According to Psychology Today, “everything from making your bed to doing all the dishes will give you the ‘ding-ding-ding’ feeling of having completed a task. Neurobiologically the satisfaction of completing a task creates internal rocket fuel that energises you to keep working towards your larger goal.”

And according to Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer of the Harvard Business Review “The more frequently you experience that sense of progress, the more likely you are to be creatively productive in the long run,”

It doesn’t matter how much is left to reach your end goal. Making these little strides can make a huge difference in how you feel and perform today. Isn’t the human body a fantastic thing? 

Micro Goals help with time management

Most of us have more than one long term goal. Sometimes those multiple goals compete for our attention, and it’s hard for us to prioritise them. With our limited time available each day, on which goals should you concentrate? 

Because Micro goals have small time frames associated with them, they allow you to cut through that confusion by letting you work towards multiple end goals at once. Spend an hour or two on one, a few minutes on another, and an afternoon on yet another goal. By the end of the day, you will have made progress on multiple end goals, and you’ll feel good about yourself. 

How Micro Goals Work

To get started with micro goals you need to ask the question “What individual steps, once accomplished will bring me closer to my end goal?” Write out those steps and start working on and checking them off. You’ll quickly learn to appreciate all these minor accomplishments, and you’ll feel good about the progress you make towards your end goals. 

Examples of micro goals

If your goal is to double your design business revenue, here are some micro goals you could try: 

  • Call clients you haven’t talked to in a while and inquire if there’s anything you can do for them
  • Send out an email to your clients asking for referrals.
  • Read one chapter per day of a business or marketing book that could help with business growth.
  • Review and update your pricing strategy. 

These are just a few examples of micro goals you could use to double your revenue. 

Get started today

What goals do you have for your future? Break them down into the smallest possible actionable units and get working on them. Pick a micro goal, finish it, and move on to the next one. Repeat this over and over, and before you know it, you will be reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself and your business. And don’t forget to enjoy the dopamine hit along the way. 

Do you consciously set micro goals for yourself?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Vincent

I am just starting to get my business going and already have some good traction with some local churches that have asked for quotes. I am encountering a decent amount of questions about these services like ChurchCo (thechurchco.com) that will create a custom (on demand) website for you and are charging $20-40 per month for the service.

I would assume that you have come across some of these. Do you have any advice on how to show the value proposition of going with a true web designer vs. a service like this?

To find out what I told Vincent you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week remove.bg

Remove.bg is a free service to remove the background of any photo. It works 100% automatically: You don't have to manually select the background/foreground layers to separate them – just select your image and instantly download the resulting image with the background removed! Currently, the resulting image is limited to 500px by 500px but they say they are working on increasing the size.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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