“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” — Tony Robbins
I grew up in Long Island, an elongated, densely populated island sitting eastward across the southern edge of New York State, along the Atlantic coast. I had a great childhood and my parents did their best to raise me after immigrating from Turkey (yes I speak Turkish).
But growing up in Long Island I felt like any other kid—trapped in a small town. I had big dreams. I wanted to go places, to see the world, and to achieve big things. Although I hadn’t quite figured out my goals, I knew that I wanted it to be something big.
I was always a dreamer. I’d conjure up outlandish visions in my wild imagination. But the reason I tell you this is not to wax nostalgia on you. I say it because, as a kid, we always dream big, right? Then, what happens along the way?
You go out there and you try to achieve your goals, and wham, you fall flat on your face. You fail and you throw in that towel and you give up. Then, you see all these other people around you succeeding and you wonder why you’re struggling to achieve your goals, right?
Why Goal Achievement Is Hard
In Long Island, we lived in a town called Syosset. I seriously remember it like it was yesterday. We lived a few hundred yards from the Long Island Railroad station and as soon as I discovered railroad travel, a whole new world opened up to me.
At 16-years old, I got my permit and had access to a car. It was then that I discovered a gym called Sportset. If you’re from the area, you’ll remember it. This massive gym had everything—tennis, racquetball, weights, an indoor pool, and a sauna. Literally, everything.
I used to go to the gym as much as I could. In fact, I still remember getting my younger brother into it and how much he struggled in those early days. A little over a year in, on January 3rd, I still remember going to the gym and suddenly it was swarming with people.
It wasn’t like that in December, In December I had all the weights to myself and could literally jump on and off machines at will. But on January 3rd, something else happened. It was as if an army of new people had now descended on the gym and suddenly it was swamped.
I remember how strange this was for me. The massive change in pattern took me by surprise. But I rolled with it. And then, something else started to happen. Little by little, as the weeks wore on, the amount of people in the gym started to dwindle down.
When It’s New It’s Exciting
That experience has stayed with me all these years. And each time New Year’s rolled around, I’d see it happen again. The gym would fill up with people, and they’d eventually disappear, week after week, month after month until it was back to normal again.
What does this tell you about goal achievement? This isn’t just some phenomenon that happens on Long Island. It happens everywhere, every year, all around the world. When something is new, it’s exciting. After all, the New Year is the chance for a fresh start, right?
It’s a new beginning—a chance to start with a clean slate. But what ends up happening is that little by little, people’s hopes and dreams fade out. Old habits die hard and most just revert back to their sedentary ways. It’s a tough pill to swallow but very true.
Years ago, I remember reading this study that brought this all home. The study revealed that 92% of people give up on their long-term goals. It even went deep into the number that quit after how many weeks. 28 percent give up by the second week, 42 percent after a month, and 56% after 6 months.
Those are some pretty depressing statistics, right? But we all know how true they are. Whether or not the number is 92% that totally give up is irrelevant. The point is that it’s a big number and we’ve all experienced this before. The question to ask yourself really is why does this happen?
Get Clear About Your Goals
One of the big things that have helped me in my life with my goals is to get crystal clear about what they are. I’m not talking about being abstract about my goals. I’m talking about getting acutely clear, specific, and detailed with precisely what you want.
As soon as I started to do this, everything changed for me. I found myself not giving up and actually pushing through the painful and difficult times. Once you get clear about your goals, everything changes. It’s a whole new ball game. Literally.
The trouble is that most people don’t have specific goals. They leave them in the abstract or just say something like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be rich.” Those aren’t clear goals. Get specific about what you truly want if you’re serious about achieving that goal.
So how does this work? Well, for starters, you must know your outcome and it must be quantifiable. Don’t just say you want to be rich, for example. You need to quantify it. That means you need to pick an exact dollar amount. Do you want $1 million in net worth? $10 million? $1 billion?
If you can’t get specific, you will never do what it takes to achieve that goal. Mostly because you won’t have a real target. The reason why most people don’t do this is because they’re afraid of having big goals. They’re afraid of what others will think about them.
Get Smarter About Your Goals
I’ve talked a lot about goal setting in the past. In fact, I created this handy goal setting guide (go check it out). But the one strategy that I’ve found to be the best method for setting and achieving a goal is called the SMARTER goal setting method.
I know it sounds like a cliche, but hear me out. When you set SMARTER goals, you’re following a very specific goal setting strategy that’s been proven to work repeatedly in the past. So what are SMARTER goals you might ask?
SMARTER goals are (S) Specific, (M) Meaningful, (A) Achievable, (R) Relevant, (T) Time-Based, (E) Evaluated, and (R) Readjusted in their approach. You see, you never actually change the goal. No matter how big it is, the only thing you ever change is your approach to getting there.
(S) Specific – Get Laser Focused
Your goal is specific when it is quantifiable and you can visually see it in your mind. So, you know that story I told you about the gym, where people just drop off week after week, right? It’s. mostly because their goal is not specific enough.
For example, if their goal was to hit the gym for 30 minutes per day three times per week, you might think that’s specific. But where’s the measurable and quantifiable result? The goal can’t be the process. The goal must be laser-focused on a quantifiable number.
Why quantifiable? Because whatever you measure and track grows (or shrinks depending on how you look at it). If you fail to track something and you ignore it, how likely do you think you’re going to keep pursuing it? Not very likely, right?
So take the time to get specific about your goal. Write them down on paper and go into detail about your life as though you’ve already attained it. And this part is incredibly important to do. Instead of saying I want to have $1 million in net worth, say, I have $1 million in net worth and live in a two-story house on Main Street with a three-car garage and a pool with a rock waterfall.
Can you see how that’s much more specific than just saying I want to have a $1 million net worth, right? That’s the target. And the more specific and detailed you get, the more likely you’ll follow through. This forces you to envision your life and all of the details you hope will come to pass.
(M) Meaningful – Go 7-Layers Deep
When I was with Joe Polish at the Genius Network 100K Group, I heard Dean Graziosi tell a story. He was fresh off the heels of publishing his book called Millionaire Success Habits and he had a guy named Joe Stumpf to come in to talk to us about going deep into the reasons why you want something.
Stumpf forced Graziosi to think about the reasons why he wanted what he wanted in his life—to go 7-layers deep. What does that mean? Well, here’s how this works. First, you have to get specific about your goal. Obviously. Then, you have to understand why you want it.
If it’s a thing-related goal like money or cars or homes, why do you want it? If it’s a transformation like weight loss or a relationship, why do you want that? It’s easy to brush this off and not go deep. But when you do that you just end up like the gym-goers who give up shortly after New Year’s.
Ask yourself the question, why do I want this? And I mean really ask yourself that question. If the answer is that you want to live in a bigger house or you want to feel successful, it’s superficial and very surface-level. Go deeper. Why do you want to feel successful?
Maybe it’s because as a kid, growing up, you didn’t have very many nice things or you always saw your parents struggling. But then ask yourself why again. Why don’t you want to keep struggling? Maybe because you want your kids to have nice things.
Keep Going Until…
The trick here is to keep going until the answer equals the question. Usually, this has to do with love. At the core of who we are, it’s almost always just love. You didn’t have that feeling of love growing up or you lacked something that made you feel unloved.
The trouble is that this is hard to admit. There’s often so much pain associated with our pasts that we avoid admitting these things to ourselves. But if you want to stop struggling and actually achieve your goals, you have to go all-in as they say.
(A) Achievable – Can You Do It?
Look, I’m all for setting insane and outlandish goals. Seriously. If you can dream it, you can do it. But don’t set yourself up for failure by setting a goal that is totally ridiculous in a given period. Meaning, if you’re $100K in debt don’t create a goal to have a billion-dollar net worth in 12 months.
Set that goal for a longer timeframe. Make sense? Get crazy with your goals. Seriously. But make sure that they’re achievable in the time that you specify. Be kind to yourself and make sure you have enough time to do it. Remember that most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade. Remember that.
(R) Relevant – Does It Align With Who You Are?
Sometimes, we struggle to achieve things because they don’t align with who we are. Meaning, the values and the beliefs ingrained in us as children are creating friction. For example, if you think all rich people are greedy or evil or have some other similar take on it, how likely it be for you to achieve a big-money goal?
You’ll likely find yourself falling short. So you have to ask yourself, does this goal align with who I am? If you’ve been told your whole life that you’re big-boned and it’s now part of your story, how hard will you work to lose weight? Or, if you were always told penny-wise, pound-foolish, who hard will you work to save money?
Goals must align with who we are. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves just giving up again. Make sure that the goal is relevant to your life so that you actually do what’s necessary to see things through. Remember, it’s not going to be easy if it’s a sizable goal. But that’ shouldn’t stop you from dreaming big.
(T) Time-Based – Did You Pick A Date?
Most of us are afraid to solidify our goals with an actual date. No, I mean a real date from the calendar. Have you done that before? If you have a big goal, you have to decide when you’ll achieve it. Don’t just say a year from now or 2 years from now. Pick the date from the calendar.
I’m talking about the month, the day, the year, and even the day of the week. Write that down. This will also allow you to create milestones by breaking that goal up into quantifiable parts. This way, you can break it down by month, week, and even day.
(E) Evaluate – How Much Progress Are You Making?
It’s easy to forget about our goals as we get busy in life. But the question is this. Are you evaluating your goals on a daily basis? If you’re not, then there’s no way it’s going to happen for you. If you don’t track it, it won’t grow. Plain and simple.
You have to pick a system and track daily. For some goals, you can even track it hourly. For example, if you’re in sales and you need to figure out how many calls you made each hour and the results of those calls, then do it. And do it every single day!
I cannot tell you how important this is. If you’re serious about a goal, the only way to know if you’re getting closer is to track your progress. How often you track says a lot about how committed you are to your goals. Creates systems and processes to help make goal-tracking easier for you.
(R) Readjust Your Approach – Never Ever Change The Goal
Never change your goal. No, I’m serious. Don’t be afraid to dream big and don’t allow anyone else out there to dissuade you. The only thing you should ever change is your approach. That’s why you have to evaluate your progress every single day.
If you’re not getting closer to your goals, change your approach. Not the goal itself. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But have you followed the advice? Most people get frustrated and give up on achieving their goals just because they failed or hit some tough times.
Instead, you have to evaluate to see what’s working and what’s not. Then go back in and change things up so that you can reach your goal. Don’t let life beat you down. Go for it. Be outlandish and work your butt off so you can realize all your dreams.