Why I Stopped Setting Long Lists of Goals to Make the Most of My Time

Let’s be honest, every new year, you make a list of goals for yourself that will change your life forever. At least, that’s what you think. It was something I used to do every year. I hoped maybe thinking about ambitious goals and jotting them down in my journal would make me push enough to work on myself. However, I’ve constantly failed for a couple of years and I’m so not proud of it.

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you crossed something off your to-do list? 

You may have finished the first few tasks, but chances are that you have ultimately abandoned it or ticked off items that were not completed properly. 

I used to have a gym membership and go to the gym every January of every year to work out like hell, but I would ultimately drop out due to work pressure or a lack of desire. Then I’d have a guilt trip because having a chiselled physique is usually on my lengthy list of goals every year.

Similarly, the longer your list of incomplete tasks grows, the more depressed you become. You start having thoughts that you have wasted another year of personal growth. Then, after a while, you stop looking at your list because it makes you feel miserable.

Divide & Conquer  -  the trick that works!

There is no magic, but a strategy!

Just stop creating a list of 30, instead, create 10.

Having a modest set of goals will encourage you to accomplish them. This is important for your self-esteem. Finishing your goals will feed your desire to complete more goals. The more tasks you tick off, the more confident you will get.

And, if you really want to finish all 30, divide them into three lists of 10 tasks each, or two lists of 15 tasks each, as per your convenience. Ticking off your small goals does bring satisfaction to your soul. 

So far, so good…

In the month of January, I published an article about my goals and how, like every year, I fail to accomplish them.

I was dead serious about my goals back then. So I worked upon them after dissecting the problem, and now I can confidently say that I am happy with my efforts and the strategy works.


Divide problems into smaller and smaller chunks whenever possible until you are able to deal with them thoroughly and efficiently. 

The strategy is not new. In fact, in several ancient events, the ‘divide and conquer’ or ‘divide and rule’ tactic has been extensively used. A comparable application to military strategy is identified by Niccol Machiavelli, who advises in Book VI of The Art of War (1521): a captain should strive with every deed to split the enemy’s troops. Hence, the strategy works even if our applications and use cases have evolved.

It is also essential that you prioritize your goals. Keep the highest priority task that requires your urgent attention at the top. When you’re through with that, the next item on the list becomes the next most essential thing. That way, you’ll only have one next most essential thing to complete at a time.

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