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Micro-Ambition: Setting Your Sights Lower

(December/January 2017) posted on Thu Jan 11, 2018

Attainable, short-term goals could be the key to success for your business in 2018.

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By Marshall Atkinson

It’s the end of the year, and as things wind down, the natural thing to do is to start thinking about next year. Everyone does it; lots of people write about it. One article after another will point out that you need to set lofty, challenging, huge goals for your business. “Climb that mountain!” (Not to sound hypocritical, but, um… maybe I’ve been known to say that, too.)

So, how did setting those big goals work out for you this past year? Or the year before? Are you any further along?

Rather than aiming for the moon, I’m going to suggest you throw that approach right out the window. Instead, try being “micro-ambitious” in developing your plan for 2018.

Why set your sights lower? The definition of ambition is “the strong desire to do or achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” That already sounds scary. No wonder that big idea of yours never got off the ground. (Again.) Maybe you had big dreams, but they aren’t being realized fast enough. You have a gigantic goal that you are always talking about, but it never seems to get any closer to reality.

Being micro-ambitious, a concept popularized by comedian Tim Minchin, might be a better way to go. Minchin describes micro-ambition as the “passionate dedication to short-term goals.” That already sounds easier, doesn’t it? (And I like easy.) It gets down to pursuing the objectives that are right in front of you with everything you have.

So instead of planning a big project that is going to take all of 2018 to complete, maybe you should apply that same dedication and passion to your daily work. First, that means setting some short-term goals. And by short term, I mean today. Let’s say the micro-ambitious goal would be to start, work on, and complete a small project every day. You’ve just made yourself one percent better – a small improvement, maybe, but those add up.

What might a company-wide commitment to micro-ambition mean for your business? Let’s take a look.

If your shop is like most, you wait for the phone to ring or an order to drop in your lap. Sure, you might have some type of outward sales effort, but it always can get better. The key is to create opportunities rather than react to them.


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