Achieving your goals can be difficult. We all know the routine — we set lofty goals and start pushing, trying to break free from our comfort zones. But, things happen. We get distracted. Frustrated. Fed up. Overwhelmed. And eventually, we revert back to our old ways. Sound familiar?
Clearly, we all struggle with goals at some point in our lives. But, there are also those goals that we seem to set and eventually achieve. In fact, nothing can deter us towards these goals. We have a determined spirit and a relentless drive, overcoming anything that stands in our way.
So what’s the difference between goals we eventually achieve and goals that we give up on? How can we set goals so that we can achieve them all the time and not just some of the time? To answer these questions, let’s dissect the mechanics of goal setting, then review some strategies that will help us to achieve our goals all of the time.
What is Goal Setting?
You’re likely no stranger to goal setting. We all have goals. Whether we actually set those goals out on paper or keep them locked away in our mind, all of us has something that we’re reaching for. But, it’s the art of goal setting and doing it the right way that separates the goal achievers from the goal wishers.
Goals that aren’t set on paper are just wishes. It’s the act of actually writing out goals that makes a sizable difference in our minds. Simply put, goals can’t take shape when they live solely in the abstract. They have to be brought into the real world by being written out and planned.
Goal setting, then, is the process of visualizing and planning the things you want to accomplish. Whether or not you follow through with your plans largely impacts your likeliness for achieving those goals. However, if you set them the right way, you’re certainly starting off on the right foot.
What’s the right way to set your goals? For starters, they have to be specific and measurable. You have to know precisely what you want, and you need to write it out. Don’t just think about it or wish for it. Actually, write it out on a piece of paper.
Goals that are measurable are quantifiable, and lend towards ease of analysis in progress. For example, if you’re aiming to buy your dream home, picking the exact purchase price is important. That allows you to know just how much money you’ll need to save to get you there.
Instead of saying you want to own a mansion, state the size, neighborhood, and real dollar value of the property you plan on buying. These details lend themselves to an increased likelihood for achieving your goals. Without them, they still live in the abstract.
Once you get specific about your goal, you need to know when you’ll achieve it. You need to add a real date with an exact day for when you’ll accomplish it. Don’t just say two years from now. Pick the exact date. This makes the goal more real when there’s an actual calendar date that you’ve set towards achieving it.
Next, you need to come up with a strong-enough meaning for achieving your goals. What does that goal mean to you? What does it symbolize? The meaning part of the equation is important because we’ll do far more to achieve a goal that means a lot to us than we will for more superficial goals.
Meanings come first, answers come later, so goes the saying. Determine your meanings. They must be profound. If you’re looking for the dream home, what does it mean to you? Profound reasons include things like security, family, contribution, freedom, and so on. Not prestige, wealth, and power.
Strategies for Achieving Your Goals
Now that you know the right way to set your goals, what are some actual strategies for achieving them? How do we actually follow through with things that we say that we want? There are, in fact, 9 proven strategies that will help you to follow through.
While some of these strategies might seem simple and straightforward, others require some more effort.
#1 — Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
There is absolutely zero chance of achieving your goals without planning. Goal achievement requires ample planning so that you know what direction you’re traveling in. But this doesn’t mean you need to know every single step you’ll take.
Think about an airplane for a moment. An airplane has a goal of taking off and landing in a specific city, on a specific date, and at a specific time. In order to achieve that goal, the plane needs to make a plan — also known as its flight plan.
But that flight plan can change. At the outset, it only accounts for some averages, such as average speed, average altitude, and general course of travel. But things can and do change along the way due to air traffic congestion, turbulence, and other factors. So the plane needs to adjust its plan accordingly.
Similarly, you need to create a plan that you can stick to, but then adjust along the way towards achieving your goals. Don’t change the goal, but you can and should change the plan as often as needed to get closer to your goals.
#2 — Create Discipline
No goal can be achieved without discipline. Even if you write out your goals and set them the right way, without discipline, following through becomes next to impossible. Create an atmosphere for goal achievement by instituting the right habits into your life that will foster discipline.
To achieve discipline, you need order and organization in your life. When things are chaotic, and you’re losing your grip on things, it’s far harder to stay focused on achieving your goals. But order and organization leads to discipline, which in turn leads to goal achievement.
This is easier said than done. Often, our obligations can outpace our sanity. But, for the person that can organize their chaotic life, discipline is just around the corner.
#3 — Lessen Distractions
It’s easy to get distracted in life. We have things that pull us in multiple directions. We veer off course, moving in one tangent after another. But distractions lessen the likelihood of achieving our goals. We need to lessen the distractions in our lives so that we remained focused.
Take a good look at where distractions are originating from in your life, and work to eliminate the ones that suck up all of your time. This includes excessive socializing, channel surfing, social media, and any other time-wasters.
By removing the distractions, we lend more free time to pursue our goals rather than focusing on the things that don’t matter as much. You likely know where much of your free time is going already, and what distractions are eating away at your schedule. Do your best to eliminate those.
#4 — Create Milestones
Milestones are helpful markers that you can create en-route to your goals. Simply take your long-term goal of one or more years, and break that goal up into milestones. Create monthly and weekly milestones that will help you stay on track.
If you actually created a measurable goal, then creating milestones is easy. Just break up the long-term goal into equal parts. For example, to lose 60 pounds within 1 year, you need to lose 5 pounds per month or 1.25 pounds per week.
Milestones are far more manageable because it helps us see the short-term results that will lead us to our long-term outcomes. It’s more finite and manageable on a day-to-day basis, since the long-term goals can oftentimes overwhelm us.
#5 — Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination is the silent killer. It affects everyone near and far. But letting procrastination overcome you, can result in a slow and steady goal-achievement death. It’s easy to allow our natural tendencies to put things off for later to become habitual, so we have to do what it takes to rid procrastination from our lives.
We can’t achieve lofty goals by procrastinating. If you have a tendency to procrastinate, then you need to implement some strategies for taking back control of your life. Start with the 15-minute rule. Set a timer on your phone and dedicate yourself to doing something for 15 minutes that you’ve been putting off.
Why 15 minutes? It helps build momentum. It moves you in the direction that you’re after by only promising a small commitment to yourself. But, what you’ll find is that after those 15 minutes are up, you’ll keep going. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Give it a try.
#6 — Effectively Manage Your Time
Time management is a strategy that anyone can use to achieve their goals. In fact, this single strategy, if implemented well enough, can help anyone achieve even the most loftiest of goals. Find a good system for managing your time, and implement it.
Time management helps us to avoid distractions while also utilizing the one resource that we all have in common: time. No one person in the world has more time than the other. Time is the great equalizer across the planet.
How do you use your time? Do you spend it the right way, ensuring that you’re allocating a good amount of time towards achieving your goals? Or do you squander it away? Be open and honest with yourself while implementing a system that works for you.
#7 — Tackle Your MITs First Thing in the A.M.
Your MITs, or your Most Important Tasks of the day, are those things that you can do right now, today, to move you closer to your long-term goals. In time management, these are also called your quadrant 2 activities, or the important but not urgent tasks.
Mark Twain called these our “frogs,” and is famous for saying that “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Twain was referring to the MITs that we all have in a given day. Focus your morning ritual on tackling your MITs every single day and watch as your progress towards your goals takes enormous leaps forward over time.
#8 – Leverage the 80/20-Rule
The 80/20-Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. In sales, this also means that 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the clients. It’s your job to identify the 20% of your efforts that are producing 80% of your results, then amplify those efforts.
To identify your 80/20, you need to audit your activities related to your goals. What efforts are you putting in and what outcomes are you receiving from those efforts? Of course, the only way to ensure you determine this properly is by constantly measuring your results on a daily basis.
This isn’t a simple procedure since we’re such creatures of habit, but when you can find your 80/20, you can really take your results to the next level.
#9 – Anticipate Failure
Failure is common when trying to achieve goals. The biggest part about failure is that we often don’t anticipate it. So, when we do fail, it’s far harder to deal with. But, when you anticipate failure, you can better cope with it, and adjust your plans accordingly.
The most successful people in the world have failed the most times. Even famous ones. And when you can anticipate failure, you can expect it and use them as stepping-stones, not allowing them to deaden your spirit as you work to achieve your goals.
Come up with some motivational strategies that will help you to overcome those failures and stay focused on your goals. But, most importantly, don’t give up. Stay persistent and determined and you’ll eventually reach your goals.