[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen was the last time you felt you had made real progress at work? Sometimes, it’s the act of moving ourselves meaningfully toward something that gives us the feeling of accomplishment and keeps us from getting down on ourselves or depressed.

To create the sense of accomplishment, you don’t have to get over the mountain in one big jump. Instead, break down big projects into a series of smaller tasks. This way, you’ll be able to feel good while achieving little successes on the way the achieving the big one.

By breaking a big challenge down into separate parts, – reaching out and securing the sales meeting, having a successful meeting, pushing a proposal out the door on time, getting a signed contract, – we improve how we feel about work. By breaking things down, we are able to visualize our participation and better understand how each incremental contribution adds up to a successful outcome. It allows us to feel good at many times along the journey, not just after we achieve a one big outcome.

“Small wins can appear incremental and rather trivial, but they can boost inner work life tremendously,” writes Quora user Gerard Danford. “Furthermore, small wins can accumulate into big breakthroughs.” This has also been called the “Progress Principle“.

Check out the video of ducklings climbing up a set of three stairs. Imagine how they must have felt when they looked up and saw “stairs”. Notice how hard that first step seemed to be, but once they got past that initial hurdle, the second and third steps were much easier. It’s almost as though they gained confidence (and skill) in that very moment.

Next time you have a big challenge at work, consider breaking it down into a few smaller parts. Then actively work through each part -in order – until the whole task is accomplished. Research tells us you will enjoy the process more and feel better about it along the way.