When you’re chasing a big goal, the kind that takes months or years to accomplish, your biggest enemy will be complacency — letting days or weeks go by without any forward motion.

Most dreams aren’t shattered by a conscious moment of surrender; rather, they’re quietly consumed by years of inactivity.

Until the fatal day…

When you stop thinking about what you want to accomplish in the future and start saying, “When I was younger, I wanted to be a…”

For this reason, when you’re chasing big meaningful goals, daily progress is crucial — not just for accelerating success — to reach the finish line at all.

And the key to daily progress is routine.

Here are 5 guidelines to help you form a productive routine that might become the very backbone of your success.

1. Set a daily goal that is NOT overwhelming.

In one year, a person working toward their goal just 17 minutes every day will invest almost twice as much time as someone cramming in a two hour session every other week.

Small wins lead to big results when you achieve them consistently.

So instead of cramming when you feel like it, do a little every day — even when you don’t feel like it.

2. Focus on the input, NOT the outcome.

One of the biggest reasons we avoid our work is self-doubt. We don’t know if we’re up to the challenge, and we’re not sure if we want to find out.

The solution is to de-prioritize the outcome and focus on simply doing your work every day.

The results will come when they come. There’s no rush and no pressure.

Your job is to work for however many minutes you’ve chosen. You can do that. No question about it. No need to procrastinate.

If you reach a new milestone, great. If not, still great. The point is you did your work.

3. Schedule a SPECIFIC daily time.

Don’t wait or hope for free time to find you. Set aside the same chosen minutes every day to work toward your big goal.

Put it on your calendar. Don’t leave it to chance.

And if possible, schedule your daily work session during the hours when you usually feel most alert and focused. This is a great way to get more done without spending more time.

4. NEVER double up.

If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up by doubling up. This mentality turns a simple 30 minutes of work into an intimidating hour, two hours, or worse…

Pretty soon you’re back where you started — scared to do your work.

To be clear, on days when you’re fully engaged in your work and want to keep going longer than planned, that’s fine. But don’t force yourself to play catch up when you miss a day.

RELATED: 3 Reasons Most People Never Reach Their Goals

5. End EVERY session with planning.

I mentioned self-doubt is one of the biggest reasons we avoid our work. Two other huge reasons are a lack of clarity and/or excitement.

Here’s a great way to squash those problems.

At the end of each work session, write down:

  1. Exactly what you’ll do tomorrow
  2. One reason you’re looking forward to resuming your work

Clarity and enthusiasm will often make the difference between playing hooky and taking your next step.


Brian Tracy once said, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”

I agree. The most accomplished people in the room often aren’t the smartest, the luckiest, or the most connected. Success belongs to men and women who move forward every day until they get what they want.

So use the 5 guidelines I’ve provided to establish a sustainable routine that produces daily progress.

This just might be THE surest way to get ahead in life.

This post was originally featured in The Science of Achievement. All rights reserved.