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Chunking change

Top mistake #8 at the Persuasive Tech Lab is focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors.  Here’s their example. Abstract: get in shape. Concrete: walk 15 min. today.

This is a “yes and” provision. We need big abstract goals to provide direction and meaning: get in shape, write the Great American Novel, create and implement an integrated information system in your organization, have more influence beyond your direct management chain. Without abstract goals, we have no focal point.

And without concrete activities, we have no progress.

Between the two, most of us rely on chunking: breaking abstract goals into smaller pieces that translate more easily into daily activities and little wins.

My trainer chunks workouts into different phases [strength, endurance, etc.]. Writing the Great American Novel might chunk into chapters and scenes. The chunks for creating an integrated information system would probably look like a Rubics cube, while those for expanding your influence as a leader might resemble a fan or a web.

Chunking, of course, is only useful when it’s translated into activities: work out for one hour every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30, write four scenes per week, post weekly intranet updates on the new information system, invite one influential colleague to lunch each week.

It’s a balancing act: short- and long-term, daily details and point-on-the-horizon aspirations, concrete and abstract.