Inexperienced runners who have signed up for a marathon regularly fall into the same trap. They start with too much too soon and either injure themselves or tire themselves out. Running a medium to long distance run every day is not sustainable for them.

I’m all about having incredibly audacious goals. It’s what excites me, motivates me and keeps me going, but at the same time, I have to have achievable goals and sustainable habits in order to get there.

Take writing for instance. For someone who’s sole goal is to write a novel, 3000 words a day is probably not sustainable. The first couple of days when the idea is new and they are fired up they might reach this target but they will quickly find that some days it just isn’t doable. Continually missing your targets is demotivating and makes us more likely to give up altogether. Better to set a smaller, more achievable daily goal in service of the audacious goal (the novel). A writer who can consistently write 500 words every single day is in a much stronger position to write that novel.

Gary Keller talks about ‘The One Thing’ which can be incredibly useful for achieving most huge goals. The idea is that every single day we choose one thing that will create the most momentum towards our goal. The caveat is, that it is non-negotiable, the task must be completed and should be prioritised above all else. Tim Ferriss uses the same approach in skill acquisition and in his working life. He talks about finding the strategy or tactic that can better move the needle. Most high achievers likely use some variation of this idea.

One thing each day is way less daunting than a long to-do list. Lists are usually filled with inconsequential filler tasks that make us feel good when we tick them off. Using a long to-do list daily means we can be kept busy with minutiae and achieve precisely nothing. A better approach is to have a sustainable habit with one goal for the day.

What would be the one thing you can achieve today that will move you closest to your goal?