We've all had that boss. It's the guy or gal who needs instant gratification. The boss's entire leadership plan revolves around instant success, and if it isn't achieved, he or she goes onto the next thing.

It can be a whirlwind working for that type of boss. He or she starts projects on a whim and abandons them if success isn't achieved immediately.

You can get whiplash following all the abandoned projects.

This type of leader doesn't understand the big picture. Short-term successes are great, but they are completely meaningless unless they are sustainable and align with long-term goals. Those who expect instant success are short sighted, and that short sightedness leads to failure.

Instead of putting all your energy into instant success, live by this motto.

Aim High, Start Small, and Keep Going. This motto is the key to both short- and long-term success.

What Does Aim High, Start Small, Celebrate and Keep Going Mean?

This phrase means that big successes typically stem from a series of small successes. You aim for the big success, achieve a small success, and then keep going, allowing all those successes to pile up and accumulate. Before long, you will reach your big goal, and it will all be because of the small successes you accumulated along the way.

Let's break this down so you'll have a better understanding of how this works.

Aim High

Big goals act as an inspiration. When you have a big goal in mind, you are more likely to take action and do what you can to reach it.

Think about what you want to achieve for your business. Do you want to increase your revenue? If so, by how much? Do you want to start selling new products? What products do you want to sell?

Think about what you want to achieve for the long term and then move onto the next step.

Start Small

Setting a big goal and trying to achieve it immediately is a recipe for disaster. That goes back to focusing on instant success. John F. Kennedy didn't just say that the country should send a man to the moon and return him to earth safely, and then expect it to happen the next day. No, he said that to get people behind the Apollo program.

JFK knew it would take years of research, mistakes, and successes to finally reach the moon. The same is true for your lofty goal. You have to think small when going after your big goal. Break your goal up into steps, with each step getting you closer to reaching your goal.

Make sure you chart your progress along the way, as that will help you feel accomplished. For example, let's say your big goal is to bring in $100,000 more in revenue into your business. That's an excellent goal, but it isn't going to happen today. You can break it up into $10,000 blocks. Each time you bring in another $10,000, mark it off. There is something extremely satisfying about marking items off the list like that.

Now, let's say your goal is to offer a new product. What will it take to reach that goal? Break it down step by step, and cross each step off the list after you accomplish it.

Celebrate

What get's recognized gets repeated. It's important to take the time to celebrate, to recognize even the small achievements as these are great mini motivators which allow you build build the momentum needed to hit your goal.

Keep Going

This is where so many people mess up. They do a great job of setting a goal, and they dive in and get started. Then, something happens, and they stop moving forward. They stop working toward their goals, and all the progress they've made collapses.

Use the SMART System

As a leader, you should be guided by your goals, so you have to be careful about how you set them. As much as you might want to set goals on a whim, you need to use the SMART system. This system will keep you on the track for success.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific 
    What, why, who, where, which
  • Measurable
    How will you know when the goal has been reached?
  • Achievable
    Is it realistic with your current situation?
  • Relevant
    Does it make sense for your business?
  • Timebound
    How far will you be in a certain time frame?

Once you come up with a SMART goal, write it down. Ninety percent of people don't write their goals down, and that's a huge mistake. Writing down goals reinforces your commitment, holds you accountable, and increases focus. It also ensures you remember your goals.

The Takeaway

The saying goes that Rome wasn't built in a day. You can apply that saying your daily life. You can't lose 50 pounds today, and you can't increase your revenue by 100 percent today. The best goals take some time to achieve, but you can enjoy small successes along the way.

Published on: Feb 17, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.