“Chunking” the Secret Key to Goal-Achievement

Ever have trouble achieving goals? Or even setting them in the first place? It’s pretty-much a well established fact by now that those who are successful, are goal-setters.

They decided what they wanted, wrote it down, and formed some kind of a plan to make it happen. Then, they worked that plan. Every damn day.

But, notice how I didn’t say, “those who set goals, usually achieve them”? No, I said “Those who are successful, are goal-setters.” Big difference. Setting goals alone doesn’t guarantee success. Just look at all those new year’s resolutions that go by the way-side. That’s because there’s a few key ingredients to goal-setting that successful achievers employ that the rest of us miss. It changes the “goal-setting” into “goal-achieving.”

Let’s start with what I think is the biggest contributor.


What on earth is chunking? Chunking is a process we do unconsciously in our minds to better make sense of a situation or task. For example, if I began to describe something with four wheels, an engine, bucket seats, and a pit-crew waiting to fuel it up – you might make a good guess I’m talking about a race-car. You took all the elements and you “chunked-up” to get the image of a car. So, you can chunk up to figure out the big picture, and you can also chunk down to zoom into the details.

You can consciously chunk up and down by asking yourself these questions:

To chunk up, ask yourself “What is this an example of?” or, “for what purpose?” For instance, to chunk up from cars we might say transportation. To chunk up again, we might say movement.

To chunk down, ask “What specifically?” or, “what are examples of this?” To chunk down cars, we might say Audi. Chunk down again, we’d go into the model, like R-8, and again to the engine or wheels.

We chunk down into the details, and chunk up to the big-picture.


So, we’ve got chunking sorted. Now we just need a goal. Well, some people really do have trouble deciding what they want and it can be a real problem for them to decide on a goal. It’s real easy to just keep plodding on, letting someone else tell you what to do, while you go about achieving their goals for them…

But that’s a whole ‘nother topic for another day. To keep me focused, let’s just assume you know what you want, and you’re pretty damn keen on achieving it.

How to maximize your goal to guarantee its achievement:

Wow, that’s a pretty lofty goal right there! “Guarantee,” you say? Yup, I’ll stand by that statement. Here’s proof:

Let’s say you’ve got yourself a whopper of a goal, a real shoot-for-the-stars beauty. At first glance, it might seem unattainable, and if you linger on it with too much rational thought, it might die a natural death before its even given a chance. Let’s save its life, and set it in motion. Here’s where chunking comes in.

Chunk that baby down

Break it down to baby-steps, and all of sudden, it doesn’t seem so unattainable. Bit by bit, that huge chunked-up, impossible goal becomes smaller steps. Steps that are completely attainable. The absolute best way to chunk down a massive (multi-year) goal is to make it DAILY. Find the small steps you can take, every day, to bring that thing into being. You’re a creator now, and you’ve got a duty to your creation to shepherd it into existence.

Overcome frustration

One problem that almost always comes up when you’re working toward a new goal is frustration. Particularly when the area you’re in is brand new to you. Say your goal is to create a successful business, and you’ve never even had a lemonade stand before – you’re a complete n00b. Frustration sets in because you don’t know how to chunk up and down in that area yet. You get frustrated because something you thought was small is taking way too long, or costing way too much. Let it be okay! That’s the price you have to pay when learning a completely new thing. Pretty soon, you learn how to chunk, how to accurately estimate timeframes, and plan your projects.

Goal achievement, in practice

  1. Set your goal, and make it a big one.
  2. Chunk your goal into an action plan. And make those actions small.
  3. Take action – every damn day!
  4. Evaluate the results of your action. Is it moving your closer to the end-goal? Change course if needed and…
  5. Take new action!

It’s simple on paper. Hey, it’s a simple process, period! It’s the doing that can be difficult. But if that goal is something you really want, something you’re totally passionate about bringing into the world, then you’ll have an easier time staying motivated.

Bring your passion to the work, be stubborn, don’t take no for an answer, and you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun achieving your goals.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • KB Jul 26, 2012 @ 5:15

    I set up a goal for myself just 1year ago and was very serious about it. Accordingly I started taking actions. It’s a graduation course on Aeronautical Engineering and I have to clear 14 subjects in 8 years. I appeared for 1 subject 6 months ago but I couldn’t clear it. Again I started my study but this time I am facing a new problem. I found that I am lacking interest to one of the subject I have chosen to appear for. I know it is absolutely necessary to clear this one but it is just wasting my time as well as my interest to my real goal(the bigger one). I am really disturbed. I just can’t let the goal to be unfulfilled. Please advice what to do.whether I made any mistake?

    • Jim Jul 26, 2012 @ 15:52

      Hey KB, thanks for writing.

      If you aren’t interested in that one subject, there’s most likely an issue with your values. Now, this might not be a problem, however.

      If you are uninterested and therefore not motivated by this subject, it means that you don’t value it enough. This is probably quite normal ~ I didn’t enjoy every paper I did at university, although I loved most of it.

      Now, given that this course is essential, you are going to have to become motivated to study, and get interested in it ~ if you want to achieve your overall goal. There are ways you can do this.

      First, familiarise yourself with your current values. Basically, write down everything you value in life, and then rank them in priority order. The top ten are what we are interested in.

      Then, notice how you know these things are of value in your life. How does it feel when you are doing something that you value?

      Then start treating the new value in the same way. Get curious about it, start finding what interests you about it, and how it makes you feel. This process can be done fairly quickly as an imagination exercise and you can use it to pass that particular course.

  • Shilpan Jan 26, 2012 @ 14:11


    This is excellent way to achieve any goal including financial freedom. I really like your concept of ‘zoom-in’ to get smaller, achievable targets.


    • Jim Jan 27, 2012 @ 21:16

      It’s definitely the best way I’ve found that works for me.

  • Mark Harrison Jan 25, 2012 @ 0:05

    Great advice about how to get traction with your goals. Goal setting it, in itself, a powerful activity, but so many people fail to get anywhere near achieving their goals because they fail to take effective action.

    I totally agree that it’s vital you keep taking action – keep on walking, taking small steps, and being observant about whether you’re on the right track.

    • Jim Jan 25, 2012 @ 21:51

      Absolutely; and the more action you take, the more your confidence grows. More confidence in action = faith.

  • Steve @ Online Marketing Unlocked Jan 23, 2012 @ 3:46


    Great article. It applies to virtually every life aea, but especially running, or more specifially starting, your own business. There are so many disparate tasks one ust achieve if they’re to be successful. Breaking the ultimate goal into chuncks is about the only way most people will achieve it.

    Many people who’ve failed to get their business off the ground, or made it really fly, did so because they neglected one of your five steps. Take them, write them down, and put tem on a sticky note on your monitor, so you’re reminded of them constantly.


    • Jim Jan 23, 2012 @ 11:15

      Thanks Steve,

      Absolutely, we’ve got to make it a habit! It sure doesn’t come naturally to me, and I have to constantly find ways of reminding myself, and reinforcing the steps.

      If you can break down the goal into small bites, and continually act towards their realization (and if you’re doing something for the first time, perhaps double the time you thought you would need), eventually you will get there. And of course, you have to be willing to be flexible with your plans, and change course to go over or through the obstacles.