The Case for Setting Minimums for Monthly Goals

why cutting monthly goals in half can actually lead to more.

Photo by Lukáš Vaňátko on Unsplash

The start of any new month can be exciting. It’s a chance to start over and reset entire goals or portions of goals. Like setting New Year’s Resolutions, it’s easy enough to pile onto our list of monthly goals. We want to accomplish everything within the next 30 days. We can create overwhelming goals that can conflict with each other, it’s easy to do.

I’m one of those people who set 5–6 aggressive goals each month. I want to write every day, pay off at least 500 in debt on a $12 an hour salary, read 10 books, spend at least a full day with my family each week, and a million other things. So, when I get to the end of the month, I’m usually exhausted and realize that I haven’t hit every goal perfectly.

When it comes to setting goals, there are two types of setters. The ones who want to stretch themselves and create high-impact goals and the ones who are more realistic. The second group might actually have the key for goal-setting productivity.

By Setting Monthly Minimums, You’re Easier on Yourself

I’m the type who will beat myself up for missing my goals. I know that I can always try again the next month and that accomplishing something is better than accomplishing nothing. However, I still will look back and consider what happened as a failure before anything else.

With minimum goals that are slightly easier to meet, anything over those goals is rewarding progress. If you decide to write at least 10 posts and write 20, it’s a great feeling. It’s harder to beat yourself up over a lack of progress. You’ve doubled your output. It’s a different mindset than vowing to write 30 and then only writing 20.

It Tricks the Brain Into Doing More

Looking at the whole picture can be overwhelming. For example, if you want to write an ebook and aim to have the first draft of 30,000 words done in a month, that’s about 1,000 words a day. However, what if you decided to write at least 500 words per day as a minimum? You might find it hard to stop after 500 words but it’s easy enough to sit down for that amount of words per day.

For a larger goal, say, paying off debt, set a longer goal. Your brain will most likely think it’ll take too long but if you set the minimum goal at a certain amount per month, it’ll come up with ways to increase that. For example, I walked into my “Year of Less” with 5100 in credit card debt. I calculated that if I paid off 425 per month it would happen. It’s actually happening faster than that. I’ve found ways to pay not only 425 but more each month.

When you decide on smaller goals, it makes them easier to hit. You can use that momentum to accelerate that goal.

It Helps with Multiple Goals

If you’re a serial goal setter, trying to meet each goal pulls you in a lot of different directions. What if you set a single monthly minimum goal in each area. First, it would cut down on the pressure. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to want to work hard for everything you want, it’s not. It’s just that if you set minimum goals in everything you can quickly rack up progress in a couple of areas as you realize which is more important to you.


By setting smaller, more realistic goals, you have a greater chance of winning. Especially if you’re hard on yourself for not making your current large goals. A goal should be big enough to challenge you and encompass your time and attention. However, at the end of the day, it is a goal. What if you gave yourself permission to tweak the system and decide what would be a good small goal for each area and work towards it? You would most likely end up winning because once that small goal is out of the way, you’re free to build beyond that.

Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle.

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