HOW TO SET GOALS & ACHIEVE THEM. REALLY.
You’ve heard it before: “Set your goals first.” “You can’t hit a target that you can’t see.” “Start with the end in mind,” etc.
So why haven’t you done it? Why are you stuck? Why do you read these blogs and still get no results? “Sure I have goals,” you say. “So what about it? I try.”
No preaching from me is going to make it happen. No self-improvement course is going to help. No inspiring quotes is going to work their magic IF YOU DON’T ACT.
If you’re trying to achieve your goals without a plan, without a system, without support, you’re wasting time and getting stuck. Maybe this blog will be the one to push you over the edge. Maybe you’ll reach a point of no return after this blog. Maybe a breakthrough will occur. The choice is yours.
Below are 10 tips that I have found useful in helping me see my goals come to pass. I hope you will encourage and inspire you to take action. Because it’s a horrible thing to live a life where you die in the middle instead of the end.
1. Be specific.
“I want to be a teacher” is not specific enough. “I want to be a professor at so -and-so college by the end of 2016” now that’s a goal that has specific steps. Being vague about your goals is like using a map to get to a state but not knowing which address you’re trying to get to. You waste your own time (and maybe your loved ones’ patience) with vague goals.
2. Write it down.
Post it where you’ll see it everyday. Give it substance. Give it life outside of your brain. You might have several goals going at once. Make a physical ‘temple’ to each of your goals in the form of sheets of paper taped to your wall. You might think, “But what if my goals change?” Then you modify the thesis statement. Chances are, some new information might come to pass that might sway your goal. Then you have to rewrite your goal. Write that new one down. If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know how to get there.
3. Your goals should honor who you are.
If you have several goals, it’s important that each goal not conflict with the other. “Playing in a rock band” and “having a great relationship with your spouse” can potentially conflict. Some great Life Masters have found ways to turn conflicting goals into goals that support each other. Maybe there are ways to create music AND allow your relationships to inspire that creativity. And maybe that creativity can help you bring a spark to your relationships. In this way, your goals can reflect the best in you.
4. List your steps.
Realize that there are steps toward a goal. Don’t set a goal without them. These can be a list of “skills needed,” or “people to contact,” or “gathering needed information” to make important decisions. This last one is so important, because most often people get stuck because of one reason. They don’t have enough information. Which brings us to number 5…
5. Ask the right questions.
I was torn with having to decide about an important job offer. Unfortunately, what I thought would be a dream job didn’t fit well with the dynamics of my family. There were important questions to be asked: salary, housing costs in the area, living expenses… When I finally asked the hard questions, I was able to see how the job didn’t fit within my higher goals. I switched gears and decided it was a no-go on the job. That doesn’t mean I have given up on my goal. I have reworded it in another form, but it still honors who I am.
6. Give yourself a time line.
Set deadlines…No. Let’s call them “lifelines;” “Deadlines” insinuates a death or an ending. When you complete a step, new “life” is breathed into your path to goal fulfillment. Without a calendar, your days will float by and before you know it, it’s been months and you’re beating yourself up for not getting any further. Then you become discouraged and demotivated.
7. Commit 1 hour a day to working closer to your goal.
If it doesn’t serve your goal, it is a waste of your time. It can be as little as learning a bit about programming a day if your goal is to land a specific computer job. Playing computer games might relieve stress, but won’t get you closer to that goal. As Steven Pressfield in “The War of Art” says, “Go Pro.” Pros, as opposed to amateurs, put so much importance into their craft that they cannot live without doing it daily. If writing is what you want to do, do it. Everyday. Sacredly. Religiously. Set aside time away from people. This is your time. When you do this for yourself, it gives you time for others.
8. Set up a support team.
You don’t trust yourself? If you can’t hold yourself accountable, then entrust your goals to a friend who’s main job is only to ask, “What did you do today that brought you closer to achieving your goal?” or “Where are you now?”
9. Persist until you get a “No.”
Often times, when you’re depending on someone’s answer to a question, an important question whose answer will help you get closer to your goal, we wait and wait, thinking that they’re thinking about your question. Often times, they’ve just forgotten. Persist until you get a “No.” You’ll be surprised at how many people genuinely want to help you. And always remember: Never take a “No” personally.
10. Use a system and stick with it.
Be it old school paper and pen or 21st century task organizer apps on the web, find a system and persist. I love the quote by Michael Gerber in his highly influential book E-Myth. Gerber writes: ““Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably. However, without a system, even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results.”
Finally, Enjoy the process. Setting and achieving goals are what make us human. As you take the steps to goal fulfillment, you’ll meet friends along the way, build lasting friendships and acquire new skills. Be grateful that you can make a decision to MOVE FORWARD. Today. Right now.
It’s time to live. This blog is not “me writing to you.” It’s “yourself speaking to you.” This blog post has to become your own inner voice. It’s not about me. It’s about you. Your life. Get on with it.