Most people would tell you to set “big” goals or “stretch” goals. The noble idea is to motivate you to action. However, this advice can encourage you to dream and set your expectations unrealistically high. The first inevitable difficulty or setback could potentially deliver a demoralizing blow to your confidence creating a negative feedback loop in your subconscious.

Instead, set goals like you would do a debt snowball. Start with the easiest first and then tackle greater challenges. Confidence is merely a positive feedback loop in your subconscious created by repeated successes. Your subconscious doesn’t differentiate that much between big successes and small ones. This is the same concept video game, gambling and advertising companies use to get you addicted. Small rewards, affirmations and interactive displays keep triggering dopamine release, which creates the positive feelings your brain wants to repeat.

Set some small but related goals that stairstep towards your bigger objectives and let the success snowball build your confidence to deal with future challenges.