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The Myth of Thinking Big

By: Brian Kim - July 25, 2006

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“I’m going to open my own business and make a million dollars.” “I’m going to lose 100 pounds of fat.” “I’m going to become a famous movie star!”

Everyday, we hear these grandiose claims made by our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. They tell us at every opportunity and we nod politely as we listen to them ramble on and on. Time goes by.

Are they any closer to achieving their goals? Did they even take a step in the direction of their goals? The answer (99.9999999% of the time) is NO.

What went wrong? Why couldn’t they achieve their goals or even start for that matter? Was it because they set their goals too high?

The answer is yes. They set their goals too high.

Then is it wrong to think big? The answer is no.

Confused yet? Let me explain.

Thinking big is great. I encourage you to spend some time everyday and dream about your biggest goal. It’s good nourishment food for the mind.

However, the point I want to make is that thinking big by itself will not do anything for you.

In fact, by doing that alone, it can hinder you.

You must be able to think SMALL first, before you can think big.

When you are “big”, then, and only then, can you really and truly begin to “think big”.

Let’s use the first goal listed in the beginning of this article as an example.

“I’m going to open my own business and make a million dollars.” Joe Blow decides to think big and boldly states that he will open his own business and make a million dollars. Then he sits down and tries to figure out how to do that.

*crickets chirping in the background*

Joe Blow has NO idea where to begin. He draws up a plan, but quickly dismisses it as it will not bring in a million dollars. He draws up another plan, but doesn’t put much effort in it as well. He has no idea where to start, no concrete plan of action, and as a result, gets very discouraged. He seeks help outside by going to the bookstore and starts buying books such as:

“How to make a million dollars with your own business”. “How to make a million dollars in real estate”. “How to become an instant millionaire”, etc.

He devours the books but nothing happens.

What’s going on with Joe Blow? Why can’t he get any traction?

It’s because he’s trying to learn how to make a million dollars with his own business when he hasn’t even learned how to make $1.00 yet.

Seriously. Think how hard it is for you to earn $1.00 of profit with your own business. Don’t be quick to dismiss it and think it’s easy. Really try to do it. Aside from your job, do you think you can make $1.00 of profit?

The book that Joe Blow should’ve bought is:

“How to make your first dollar of profit from your own business and then learn from that and reinvest that money to make two dollars in profit and learn from your experiences to make four dollars of profit and then start to make 8 dollars as you slowly build confidence and momentum to make twenty dollars in profit so you can just keep building upon lesson after lesson, experience after experience, and to keep on learning and building momentum because you know what works and by focusing on setting small measurable goals till you make enough money to think big and leverage your resources to accomplish the big goals you set now that you have the means to do so.”

Michael Dell employed the route of thinking small before thinking big. He started by selling personal computers from his dorm room. Steve Jobs started Apple in his parent’s garage.
If you continue to read the biographies of successful people, you will realize two common themes among them.

1. They just got started. They didn’t wait till conditions were perfect. They just got started.

2. They went through a necessary process of growth to get to where they are today.

The reason why they were able to just get started was because they thought small first, rather than big. If you set a goal of earning a million dollars compared to setting a goal of earning $1 dollar in profit, imagine which goal will propel you to take action more easily.

Once they got started, they were able to go through a necessary process of growth that enabled them to achieve their big goals.

This process of growth is what most people nowadays fear and detest most. Most people want results NOW. We live in a generation of instant gratification. We get radio, TV, video, information at the click of a mouse. We can reach anybody in the world by hitting 10 buttons on a phone. We have the world at our fingertips. We are a spoiled generation not wanting to go through the slow process of growth.

However, you must realize that this process of growth should not be feared or detested.

The process of growth should be EMBRACED.


Because going through this process of growth will teach you the necessary lessons and skills to achieve the big goal you’ve set.

Focus on thinking small in order to experience the necessary process of growth to achieve your big goal. Then, when you get “big”, you can leverage all your knowledge and resources to accomplish the results of your thinking big.

If you look at the biographies of famous actors/actresses, you will realize that they too just got started and went through a process of growth to get to where they are today. Many just got started by doing embarrassing commercials and TV shows, but that was all part of the process of growth.

Now they are huge mega blockbuster stars. Because they are “big” now, they can truly “think big” and accomplish it easily. If they choose to write an autobiography, it’ll probably become an instant #1 bestseller on the NY Times. If they choose to promote a certain charity, they can easily enlist the help of many people to throw a charity event in one week. They can use their “big” celebrity power to bring attention to issues that are ignored, etc.

The point is, they could’ve only done that when they were “big”, and the only way to become big is to think small and to grow.

I will end this article with a personal story of mine that ties well in with this article.

When I graduated from high school, I was a skinny twig. I probably weighed around 120 pounds soaking wet. I wanted to gain weight and set a lofty goal of 170 pounds. I spent time and money reading and buying products, looking for that magic shake or supplement that would help me gain 50 pounds. None of it worked and I became so discouraged, I quit.

A year later, I picked up the goal of gaining weight again but this time, set a small goal. Gain 5 pounds. Become 125 pounds. This was all it took. This took me out of the mindset of the “quick fix” and propelled me to go through the slow process of growth and to learn.

By having this mindset, I began to find myself reading quality information on bodybuilding. I learned all about proper nutrition, post and pre-workout meals and shakes, proper weight lifting form, the proper number of sets and reps to do, the importance of protein and calories in your diet, etc.

With all that knowledge and the small goal I set, it wasn’t long till I hit 125. Now to you, it may not seem like such a big deal. Whoop de doo. You went from 120 to 125. You want a medal? Why yes, by all means thank you very much!

When I saw the scale climb slowly from 120 to 121 to 122 to 123 to 124 to 125 over a period of weeks, I was thrilled and excited because I knew if I could go from 120 to 125, I could go from 125 to 130, then from 130 to 135, then from 135 to 140, etc.

And that’s exactly what happened. Each small goal when achieved, propelled me to go forward with even more confidence, fuel, determination, and motivation and I continuously picked up more and more information along the journey that made growth faster. In two years, I hit 170.

The point I want to make is:

Think Big -> THEN Think Small -> Grow -> Become “Big” -> Then Accomplish Big Things

Invest in yourself and make it happen.

[tags]success, work, career, goals, goal setting[/tags]

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26 Responses to “The Myth of Thinking Big”

  1. Cindi Says:


    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story, it held a very true relevance to my personal life and it reminded me to see that to succeed is not over night that you do need to work at it.

    So again thank you as you have given me a new way to look at things. A fresh thought on a blank canvass is a beautiful thing and now I have that.



  2. Brian Kim Says:


    Thank you very much for your kind words and for letting me know that this article has helped. That’s my whole reason for writing. If I have helped at least one person with this article, my goal has been achieved.

    Thanks again.


  3. Margot Says:


    Your story also gave me new insight. I have over the years struggled with goal setting and it has been related to exactly what you described - too big and wanting it right now. I have had mentors talk to me about setting “stretch” goals and then breaking the goal down in to smaller steps. But for whatever reason it never clicked until now. I like the “Think big- then think small- then grow” process.

    Thank you for helping me look at achieving my loft goals in a different light. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    Best Regards,

  4. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Margot,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I too know exactly what you are talking about. I fell victim to the glory of thinking big and it took me a long time to think about it and articulate why it was not working. I first wrote this article to myself for reference whenever I felt discouraged with a big goal. I’m happy to see that this article has helped other people deal with the same problem.

    Thank you again for your comments. I look foward to hearing the achievement of your lofty goals now!

  5. Jason Stepp Says:

    I have to say I agree with you as much as I’d hate to accept that truth. I’ve gone through at least a dozen ideas to make it big and thinking back on them, it’s hard to accept that you’re not a millionaire after the 1st week. I’ve had more success when I didn’t think big and did stuff as a joke or even 1/2 ass. Example, I 1/2 ass’d a site @ http://www.politewear.net and make more money on that than any ‘big idea’ site I’ve tried to do. Perhaps I should gather my pride and start over again, but this time plan to not plan for success and plan to go slower and see what happens. WHEN I make my first million, I’ll have a cold one waiting for you :-)

    -Jason Stepp

  6. Who…What…Where…When…Why…How…????? » The Myth of Thinking Big Says:

    […] Everyday, we hear these grandiose claims made by our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. They tell us at every opportunity and we nod politely as we listen to them ramble on and on. Time goes by. […]

  7. Chris Cree Says:

    Brian, You spot on here. As one with a track record of paralyzing perfectionism who happens to be a “big” thinker, I’ve had to learn this lesson myself personally too.

    The first key is definitely getting into action. And if staying too focused on the big goals prevents that, then what good is it?

    It is hard for some of us who want everything to be “just so” to just get moving forward and clean up the mess as we go. But if we don’t ever really get started what difference does it make if everything is neat and tidy?

  8. Bryan C. Fleming Says:

    Good Post. I think you’re right. People need to start SMALL and grow from there.

    - Bryan

  9. Brian Kim Says:


    Absolutely! Action will always triumph over paralysis perfection analysis.


    Thanks for hosting the carnival!

  10. » Success Blog Carnival v001 | Sept 04, 2006 · Cultivate Greatness | Personal Development Blog | Success Blog | Motivation Blog | Inspiration Blog | Business Blog | Make Money with Adsense Says:

    […] Brian Kim presents The Myth of Thinking Big posted at Brian Kim.net - Invest in Yourself and Make It Happen. […]

  11. Bryan C. Fleming » Blog Archive » August 29th Blog Carnival Says:

    […] Brian Kim presents The Myth of Thinking Big posted at Brian Kim.net - Invest in Yourself and Make It Happen. […]

  12. sanjay sharma, india Says:

    thank you mr. kim,

    i am really greatful to you about this article. i come to this article by an accident and when i read this article. the light bulb switch on in my mind. i am always thinking big in life. and always failing in life. i do not know the reason why i am going to fail. because i wanted to be greate in life and want it right now. the process always frustrated me. not because i do not have paitence (for your kind information people tell me that i am very patience type of person) but because i neglect the processing part and think that i am going to win this time ok next time ok next time ok next time. ohhhh it is very tough and i does not have ability to handle it so i have leave it. but inside i am always wanted to be great. because of this article i come to understand what is the fault. thank you kim for this and best of luck for this site.

    sanjay sharma, india

  13. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Sanjay,

    Thank you very much for the kind words. I really appreciate it. I’m glad this article helped switch that light bulb in your head!

    You live you learn eh ;)


  14. The Personal Development Carnival - August 13, 2006 - from Creating a Better Life Says:

    […] Thinking big is important… but is it too much too soon? Brian Kim presents The Myth of Thinking Big posted at Brian Kim.net - Invest in Yourself and Make It Happen. […]

  15. Self Improvement Blog - BrianKim.net Says:

    […] The Myth of Thinking Big […]

  16. Danny Says:

    Mmm, I don’t really agree with you, when you said You must be able to think SMALL first, before you can think big. But I agree when we already have big dream, we should create a plan how we can achieve that.

    I also business owner, I already can create $1 but not 1 million. but I agree to have big dream we should have knowledge about it.

    My point in here is focus on our big dream, we can gain knowledge by reading a book, articles or find mentor and never give until we achieved what we want.

  17. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Danny,

    Thanks for leaving your comments and thoughts.

    Your opinion is always welcome and if that’s how you see it, then by all means that’s how you should live it.

    All I’m advocating is a step by step method. After all, I’ve never seen anybody jump from the bottom of the stairs straight to the top. Those stairs must be there for a reason ;)

  18. Danny Says:

    Hi Brian,

    Actually, you are quite right.
    Thinking big… I would say must be realistic enough.
    Then taking small steps at a time (plan for it, take actions, having postive thoughts and emotions)… to ultimately reach that big dream.

  19. shah Says:

    well i think the points that should be highlighted are
    -its perfectly ok to think big,with the end in mind.in fact i believe it should be encouraged.
    -but start doing the possible, persevere and learn and in no time you will start doing the impossible
    -big goals always get big results.you set out small goals,u get little achievements.set big goals and u get big success.

  20. Nature’s Way Is Best » Self Improvement Blog - BrianKim.net Says:

    […] The Myth of Thinking Big […]

  21. Herminio Says:

    Thanks you ,
    I’ve had started a “BIG ” Business in my head ….. But after reading your article am reconsidering my strategy . Now i will be happy to just sale one item and make $10 profit than hopping to make that ” BIG ” deal were i would sale 1000 items in one go and make Million dollars .

    Once again thank you
    Herminio ( Richie )

  22. Brian Kim Says:


    You’re very welcome! I’m glad you got something out of the article.

    Make that one sale, make several of them as well, and sooner or later, you’ll figure out how to make those “Big” deals. It’s all part of the process.

  23. The One Danger To Look Out For When Taking Expert Advice » The Definitive Self Improvement Blog - BrianKim.net Says:

    […] The Myth of Thinking Big […]

  24. The Problem With 99.9% of All the Self Improvement Information Out There That You Just Can’t Put Your Finger On Until Now » The Definitive Self Improvement Blog - BrianKim.net Says:

    […] The Myth of Thinking Big […]

  25. lauren Says:

    Sounds like the Kaizen, the Japanese method of reaching a goal in small steps. It’s a great way to reach a goal and it can be as mundane, say, as when I was overwhelmed by the clutter in my bedroom. I started out by picking up ten items a day and taking care of them. At the end of two weeks, my bedroom was cleared. Another bonus about taking small steps is that you bypass the part of your mind that’s saying, “Don’t want to do this.” It’s good to be reminded of it. Love and Light

  26. Brian Kim Says:


    Thanks for sharing your experience. I like the bypass part :)

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