A Complete Method for Achieving Your Goals
Having an action plan in place for achieving your goals is a proven way to increase success, earn more money, and develop your lifestyle. Although I can’t guarantee that you’ll achieve your goals, I can guarantee you’ll be more likely to achieve them if you use the process described in this article.
Below you’ll find a start to finish method for creating goals, outlining key steps and milestones, as well as some proven techniques that help people reach the summit of their aspirations.
Why Use a Method? Isn’t Knowing Your Goals Enough?
An interesting study about goal setting followed a class of Harvard business grads over 10 years. Upon graduation, 84% of the students had no goals, 13% had goals in mind, and a staggeringly low 3% of students had clear, written goals.
What do you think happened?
The 13% with goals in mind earned twice as much as the 84% who didn’t, and the 3% with written goals earned ten times as much as the other 97%.
This is one of countless examples of people who use proper goal setting techniques achieving more than those who don’t. The bottom line is this: if you want to be your best self you have to have a clear sense of purpose, direction, and action.
Step 1) Get a Notebook and Create Goal Setting Categories
Getting a notebook, calendar, or whiteboard is a must. These allow you to write down goals, draw or sketch plans, and they can all be kept in an accessible area you will see often. Having your goal setting ideas written down and in your line of sight multiple times per day is important.
Before you start writing stuff down, create a few categories. Having a big messy list of goals won’t help you much; neither will having a bunch of long-term, short-term, and micro-goals all jumbled up together.
For categories, I use ‘Personal/Lifestyle’, ‘Financial’, ‘Dating/Relationship’, and ‘Professional’, although you can use whatever categories are relevant to you.
For time based categories, I have ‘Lifetime’, ‘Five Years’, ‘One Year’, ‘3 Months’, ‘1 Month’, ‘Daily’.
Daily goals are by far the most important type, as these are the ones you will take direct action on. If you’ve done your planning right, completion of your daily goals guarantees completion of your longer term goals.
Step 2) Sit Down and Figure Out Your Dream Lifestyle
Figuring out your dream lifestyle and defining it in practical terms results in a blueprint for life. It gives you a clear idea of where you’re at, where you’re headed, and where you’ll ultimately end up.
Surprisingly, this step is often the most difficult. We’ve spent so much time listening to others talk about what’s achievable, what is possible, what is practical, that we lose the ability to think about what we want.
Our brain is so trained to think in “realistic” terms we often filter out our deepest desires. Pretend you live in a world with no consequence, no chance of failure, and infinite resources – what would you do?
Where would you live? How much money would you like to make? What kind of relationship do you have? When you look back on your life from this fantasy future perspective, what achievements do you take the most pride in?
Step 3) Pick a Time Frame and Reverse Engineer a Way There
This part is the most exciting. It’s the part where you get to actually make a plan for achieving your future goals, a plan you can start using today. If you do it right, it serves as a detailed road map from where you are to where you want to be. All you have to do is follow it.
Starting at the end and working back to present is a lot easier than the other way around. If you know your end goal is buying a beach house in Hawaii within 5 years and paying it off in 10, all you have to do is calculate the cost of the house and work out what you need to earn per year in order to meet this deadline.
It’s like finding your way through a maze. If you try to start from the beginning and try to get to the finish, you can make a lot of wrong turns along the way. If you start from the finish, you know there aren’t any dead ends. You’re already on the path that leads to your destination; all you have to do is follow it to where you’re starting from.
Step 4) Turn Your Path Into Specific, Actionable Goals
Once you’ve reverse engineered a path to achieving your goals, it’s time to turn them into actionable steps.
Say your goal is to get the Hawaii beach house from step three. If you’ve calculated how much money you need for the down payment and the income you’ll need to pay it off, the next step is to look at professions offering that sort of income. Most professions offering this sort of income require a lot of education, so unless you have savings to invest you have to start a business.
Once you explore business ideas and find one you like, figure out what you need to start it. How much money will you need? Will you need to consult with lawyers, accountants, or other professionals? Do you need a website? How will you connect with your market?
Once you nail down these specifics, you’ve reached the stage of specific, actionable goals. You can now take steps in your day to day life to bring about these specific goals, which will ultimately result in the realization of your long term goals.
Step 5) Take Action on a Daily Basis
Take your specific goals and break them down into daily tasks and monthly milestones.
Continuing the example from before, you could make a daily tasks like speaking with a lawyer, printing incorporation papers from your government’s website, or designing a plan to connect with your target market. Your milestone for the first month could be something like launching your business.
The more you surround yourself with your daily tasks, the more likely you are to do them. Write your daily tasks in your notebook, or on your whiteboard or calendar. Put them on sticky notes on your fridge. Before you go to bed, program your tasks for the next day in your phone and set a reminder alarm for them.
Buy a cork board and pin a page listing your daily tasks for the week. Print pictures representing your various long term milestones and put them beside your daily task list – this will remind you of the things you’ll achieve if you complete your daily tasks.
Step 6) Prepare to Stay Motivated in the Face of Failure
Your original plan will have some unexpected setbacks. If you aren’t prepared, these can derail you entirely and suck the motivation right out of you. Before you start working toward your goals, accept future setbacks and commit to working through them.
I think the ability to effectively handle setbacks without getting discouraged is the single biggest factor separating successful people from unsuccessful ones.
It’s relatively easy to set goals and create a plan, but it’s tough to navigate all the challenges along the way.
When things go wrong, take a look at the road map to achieving your goals and make revisions as necessary.
Instead of getting discouraged, ask yourself “How does this setback affect my plans? How do I get back on track? What do I need to change?”
Step 7) Persevere and Get Resourceful
There will be times where you don’t really fail, but you aren’t making ideal progress either.
The stresses and pressures of chasing your dreams can grind you down. Some people let the pressure crush them like coal, while others sharpen under pressure and become diamonds. Pressure is life’s way of telling you change is necessary to achieve your goals.
Perseverance requires resourcefulness and innovation. When you feel like you’re working hard but not getting results, it’s time to think differently. Look for people on a similar path and reach out.
Try calling or emailing people who have already achieved what you set out to do. Hire me as a personal development coach. Find a mentor in a related field. Search for business networking groups in your city. Read and subscribe to blogs. Read books and articles about the field you’re interested in. Go to a weekend long entrepreneurship event – you’ll get lots of ideas and meet lots of cool people.
What are your goal setting tricks? What obstacles are preventing you from doing what you want to do with your life? I want to hear from you – leave me a comment below!