Everyone has things they want to achieve; however, too often we fall short of achieving our most challenging goals.
Having a plan in place influences focus and action rather than simply hoping for success. Applying these seven steps towards any goals will dramatically increase your ability to achieve them.
Change Your Perspective
Perspective and mindset are critical towards accomplishing a goal, and it will be easier if you can keep the end in mind. As Confucius said, “He who says he can, and he who says he can’t are both usually right.”
Following a vision goes much further than blind hope. I am a big proponent of the word until. ‘Until’ is much more powerful than “someday I’ll…” Try saying, “I will work until, train until, study until, save until.”
Having this approach changes your mindset from looking at external factors that prevent you from achieving something, to actually taking responsibility for your actions and doing it.
Write Your Goals Down
The next step is to write what you are trying to achieve, and how you will achieve it. Writing down your goals allows you to turn ideas into a vision. There are a variety of things everyone would like to achieve, but writing your goals allows you to prioritize them, and to focus on the most important.
Understanding how you are currently spending your time will allow you to cut out as many distractions as possible. In addition, goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). Creating specific goals and deadlines for accountability will give you an action plan for reaching your final destination.
Learn From Others
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. It is almost a certainty that whatever you are trying to accomplish has been attempted in some fashion before. Take advantage of the information out there. Find out who or what helped them excel and replicate it.
Likewise, learn where they struggled and avoid those behaviors. Reading books, articles, blogs, joining online groups are all great ways to learn from others. Incorporate these ideas into your action plan.
Take the First Step
Too often, we come up with a perfect plan without taking action. Application is everything! You can read a book and gain knowledge, but until you apply what you learn, nothing changes. The same thing applies to your goals.
While the goal may appear intimidating when looking at everything that needs to be done, setting and accomplishing small goals along the way helps you build momentum.
Routine and habits that work toward your goal are necessary for achieving them. By forming a routine, you can track your progress over time, which builds momentum. Set aside time each week to reflect on your progress and make adjustments where necessary. Being consistent is all about accountability and limiting distractions.
Your motivation will be at its peak at the beginning of the process when you first get inspired, and towards the end when the goal is in sight. Consistency will help you get through the hard work required in the middle. When discussing achieving goals, a great example comes from Will Smith in his analogy of building a wall.
He says that you do not start with a finished wall. Instead, you say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.”
One Goal at a Time
Trying to accomplish multiple goals at the same time not only complicates things, it’s also ineffective. In “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling discuss the importance of focusing on one goal at a time.
It is far more important to put your best effort into one goal than mediocre effort towards many. Without this focus, it becomes too easy to become distracted by “the whirlwind” of everyday tasks.
This leads to a concept called goal diffusion, meaning that with each additional goal you set out to achieve, your likelihood of success for each goal decreases. Focusing on one goal at a time will allow you to focus solely on the “wildly important.”
Plan for Roadblocks
Any worthwhile goal will not come easy. It is easy to blame or complain when things get challenging. However, looking at external factors that are holding you back removes responsibility.
Instead of complaining, take accountability and establish what you can do to change the situation. If it’s truly out of your control, then there’s no reason to stress over it. Fail forward.
While setbacks can be painful, failure can be a tremendous learning experience. In these challenging moments, it is important to remember why you set out to achieve the goal in the first place.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to achieve the goal, and refer to the list when times get tough. In the words of author J. K. Rowling, “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”