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The Power of Micro Goals: A Path to Success for Students

Three of us friends set out to cycle around Singapore with the aim of exploring places inaccessible by public transport and adopting a healthy habit. The goal was daunting, covering 130 km, requiring long hours of riding, waking up early, and investing in bicycles. Caught in the big goal trap, we procrastinated for months until we decided to break it down into smaller goals.


We set ambitious goals that challenge us to grow and dream big, using frameworks and the ability to track and monitor using tools. Even with all those, the toughest part is getting started, taking the first step. A better strategy to keep you going is breaking down into smaller tasks/actions which we can perform each day that leads to a larger goal. Micro goals, " a game-changing strategy that empowers us to make steady progress and achieve remarkable results.”

What are Micro Goals?

Micro goals are small, achievable steps designed to move us closer to their larger aspirations. Unlike daunting long-term goals, micro goals are bite-sized, specific, and manageable actions that promote consistent progress. 


Why Micro Goals are important

"A river begins with a single drop of water." Micro goals are like those drops. They add together to your bigger goals.


Micro goals are less overwhelming, making progress visible and providing positive reinforcement along the way. They are easier to get started with and more realistic, building confidence and momentum as we achieve them. Additionally, micro goals are excellent for building positive habits. By setting and repeating these manageable tasks regularly, we reinforce positive actions and create new habits.

In our case, we decided to start cycling a short distance at a park on a Saturday morning at 8 am, using rented bicycles. That was our first step – we rode 5 km, visited new places, had a good breakfast, and enjoyed each other's company and friendship. The sense of accomplishment was high, and we all gained the confidence to take the next step.


Fast forward three years, we grew to a group of 8, and completed our larger goal of cycling around Singapore. We woke up at 3 am every Saturday, invested in road bikes, explored various places, tried different types of food across Singapore, and enjoyed each other's companionship. The key to our success was consistency – taking small steps that took us a long way.

"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." 

- Tony Robbins

What are the benefits: 


1. Building positive habits: 

Consistency is key to forming positive habits. As we work towards micro goals, we practise new behaviours regularly, leading to lasting habits that contribute to overall well-being. For example, if a teen's micro goal is to read 10 pages of a book every day, and they consistently achieve it, it becomes a habit to read regularly. Over time, this habit can contribute to their personal growth and academic success. In our case, building the habit of cycling helped us venture into other areas like trekking and hiking long distances, and it also led us to build small communities of interest.


2. Overcoming Procrastination:

Procrastination often occurs when tasks feel overwhelming or lack clear direction. Micro goals dismantle this barrier by making tasks bite-sized and achievable (short distance to start with, not so early in the morning). We built momentum as the sense of accomplishment was high after completing each small step. There were immediate rewards in the form of visiting new places and enjoying meals together. We kept each other accountable to wake up on time, making the process more efficient.


3. Creating Clarity:

Each week, we gained clarity not just on our progress but also on our abilities and potential. The incremental growth was driving our confidence and helped us track how close we were to the larger goal. As we started pushing ourselves to wake up earlier, we needed to have front and rear lights that would last longer, we could anticipate such obstacles. We knew the next step in the process and had a clearer vision of how to achieve our goals.

Summing up the benefits

Courtesy: Whatsapp fwd and James clear, Atomic Habits

How to set one: 


  1. Identify your larger goal (long-term) and align it with your values:

Ask yourself why you want to do this, what is the purpose, will you be happy accomplishing it, and will it be helpful to others. For us, we wanted to visit new places, exercise, and enjoy each other's company. Our goal had more than one purpose attached to it.

2. Brainstorm potential obstacles: 

Consider possible challenges you might face. For example, we were concerned about the fear of getting hit by larger vehicles when riding on the road during traffic. To address this, we started riding earlier to avoid traffic.


3. Break down bigger goals into smaller steps: 

Divide your larger goal into achievable and manageable micro goals. We found that breaking our cycling journey into smaller distances helped us stay motivated and focused.

4. Write or type down your goals using a framework like SMART goals: 

This will make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Having a clear plan in place helps keep you on track.


5. Reward yourself and celebrate your small successes: 

Along the way, we treated ourselves to a variety of foods from different places we visited. Celebrating your progress, no matter how small, boosts motivation and positivity.


6. Share your experiences with others:

 Talk about your journey and achievements with friends and family. Sharing your story not only inspires others but also strengthens your commitment to your goals.

Larger Goal: Achieve A+ in science

Micro Goal: Finish 5 test paper questions every day at 8:00 PM

Larger Goal: Finish Harry Potter series

Micro Goal: Read 10 pages every day before bed


Larger Goal: Learn Chinese

Micro Goal: Practise sentence-making on a new topic (fruits, vegetables, colours) every day for 15 minutes at 6:00 PM together with my sister 

Larger Goal: Reduce burn out and stress

Micro Goal: Practise breathing techniques 3 times a day for 10 minutes

Some examples:

Larger Goal
Micro Goal
Achieve A+ in science
Finish 5 test paper questions every day at 8:00 PM
Finish Harry Potter series
Read 10 pages every day before bed
Learn Chinese
Practise sentence-making on a new topic (fruits, vegetables, colours) every day for 15 minutes at 6PM together with my sister
Reduce burn out and stress
Practise breathing techniques 3 times a day for 10 minutes

Students can break down their aspirations into manageable steps, create a path towards success, personal growth, and overall well-being. As parents, educators, and counsellors, we can support teens in setting and achieving micro goals, empowering them to navigate life's challenges with confidence and determination.


If you would like to know how this can be applied in a school setting using scalable tools, contact us at

By Rahul | 26 Jul 2023

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