How to achieve major goals without falling into the trap of overconfidence

Business owner plans for government grant

Breaking up a major project into smaller tasks, and asking for feedback or help while you complete those tasks, will greatly improve your chances of success, according to US psychology academic and author Art Markman.

Borrowing from the psychology concept of the Dunning-Kruger effect, Markman explains in the Harvard Business Review that poor performers in any given field have a tendency to overestimate their abilities because they do not have a clear understanding of all the elements needed to perform well — whether that’s when attempting to complete a major project or taking on a new role with a higher level of responsibility.

It’s possible to “deflate some of this overconfidence” by breaking up a larger project into smaller pieces that contain the same kind of tasks or elements as the overall project, Markman says. It also gives you the chance to learn about the processes involved and to refine your skills along the way.

So while business owners and entrepreneurs understand the value of persistence and determination when it comes to achieving their goals, they may be able to improve their chances of success by completing smaller, more-manageable tasks on the way to achieving a major goal.

“The idea is to shorten the learning cycle by tackling a smaller project, so that you can get early feedback and hone your approach before taking on the complex tasks associated with the bigger project”, Markman explains.

“The individual tasks that are part of any major project take practice.

“You can’t expect to perfect them for the first time when you are aiming at something significant.”

For business owners looking for the right place to start when tackling a major goal, Broadband Solutions co-founder Sam Bashiry recommends first asking six key questions:

  1. Who is going to help you achieve the goal?
  2. What you what do you want to achieve?
  3. When do you want to achieve it by?
  4. Where are you going to achieve it?
  5. Why do you want to achieve it?
  6. And how are you going to do it?

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