One Small Thing

Let a BTN goal be the secret of your success

Whatever you want to achieve, a BTN goal can help get you there.

BTN, which stands for better than nothing, is about doing very little on any individual day, but continuing to do it, said Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert and author of the new book, “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.”

“The better-than-nothing goal is this idea that when we lower expectations in the short run, we can achieve bigger things in the long run,” Vanderkam told TODAY.

“Where people get tripped up with goals is that they set their goals too high in any short period of time and then they don’t stick with it. It’s really persistence over the long run that leads to things.”

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Meet Yale professor who teaches a course on happiness

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Meet Yale professor who teaches a course on happiness

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A BTN goal means setting a daily habit to the point where you feel no resistance. When you feel no resistance, it’s easier to do it, Vanderkam noted. It works with any type of goal you want to achieve.

To exercise regularly, for example, Vanderkam’s BTN goal is to run one mile every day. It’s a fairly short distance and only takes about 10 minutes, so it’s hard to tell herself she can’t find 10 minutes at some point during the day to run, she said.

“A lot of the times, once I start running, I want to keep going. But even if I don’t, I’ve done my 10 minutes. Because of this, I’ve been able to stick with this streak in a way that if I had set a bigger goal, I would not have,” Vanderkam noted.

If you want to eat better or lose weight, your BTN goal might be to eat vegetables at lunch and dinner, drink water instead of sugary drinks or not to snack after 7 p.m.

If you want to write a book, you might set your BTN goal to write 400 words a day. Most people write more than that just by sending emails in the morning, Vanderkam said. If you stick with it, that’s a full draft of a book in a year.

The bottom line is: Achieve your small goal, then do it again, Vanderkam advised. It can lead to great things.

Follow A. Pawlowski on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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