Create Milestones for Your Goals2 min read

Your aspiration is what you are seeking to achieve or become in your life. It is the vision you have for yourself. For it to be practical and actionable, you must first translate it into SMART Goals. Next, we need to break down your SMART goals into milestones.

Milestones allow you to focus your energy better and to avoid overwhelm. They clarify the steps ahead, help you feel more motivated, and give you a taste of success more quickly. You can dream as big as you like, but you need to break down that dream into SMART goals—and those goals into achievable milestones. 

An aspiration can have multiple goals to cover the different aspects of that dream, value, or project. And each goal often has at least a couple of milestones—the key phases that you go through to achieve a goal. Here are some examples.

AspirationHappy family lifeShare my wisdomHealth and vitality
Goal #1Marry a smart and loving partner before I turn 35Write an influential book on Leadership by end of next yearLose 40 pounds by Christmas this year
Examples of SMART goals for different aspirations.
Milestone 1Work on myselfResearch and planLose the first 10 pounds
Milestone 2Find a good partnerWrite first draftLose 10 more pounds
Milestone 3Build our relationshipGet it publishedLose 10 more pounds
Milestone 4Get marriedPromote itLose the last 10 pounds
Examples of milestones for each of the SMART goals above

As you can see, for some goals the milestones will be different tasks or sub-projects (first two aspirations above). For other goals, more quantifiable in nature, the milestones will be different landmarks of progress in the same activity (third aspiration).

You can also benefit from having a start and end date for each of your milestones. These dates are a plan, not reality. Reality will rarely be like any of your plans; yet planning is still extremely useful. A clear timeline helps you keep your momentum, build a sense of urgency, and channel your resources properly.

Action step: Break down your goals into specific milestones.

  1. Select an aspiration to focus on, then one of its SMART goals.
  2. Break down that goal into milestones.
  3. Add a start date and deadline for each milestone.
  4. Repeat the steps above for every goal in every aspiration.

If your big aspiration is not yet clear, then simply get started with a SMART goal of improving a specific area of your life and developing the habits that you need for that purpose.

Once you have specified SMART goals and aspirations, your journey forward will feel more achievable and less overwhelming. The next step from here is to decide what are the most important habits you need to create, and then to get started implementing them.

This article is a summary of key ideas taken from Chapter 6 of Mindful Self-Discipline. To dive deeper, get the book or audiobook.

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