If you're like most people, you struggle to meet your goals. You may set them January 1 and feel excited, but that excitement fades, and a few months later you look back and realize that, once again, you've failed to achieve your goal. There's good new for you! It's always possible to change. In this post I'm sharing with you 5 steps to achieving any goal. Make a decision, make a commitment, and follow through. You can do it!
First off, if you want to achieve something in your life, you need to set goals. Not wishes, things you daydream about and imagine would be nice to have someday, but concrete, well-thought out, written down, take action daily types of goals. Only 3% of people achieve their goals, and that's because so few create the discipline and habits required to do so. You can be part of the 3%.
One additional point that is pretty important. Your goal must be something that makes you stretch and grow. After all, the purpose of a goal is who you become in the process. If you already know how to do something, it's not a goal. It should be something that you've never done before and that you don't know how to do. The "how" part will come to you as you take action.
Here are 5 steps to achieving any goal. Take time to follow each step and you'll see your life change.
Step 1: Know what you want
The first step to achieving any goal is knowing what you want. What makes your heart happy? What would you love to do every day? If you're stuck, do these activities to decide what you want.
Have a clear picture of your goal
It's not enough to want vague, general things like health, happiness, or more money. You have to know clearly, in vivid detail, exactly what it is that you want. To achieve your goal, clarity is a must.
If you want a healthy body, make it specific. Decide that you want to run a marathon, for example. You must get clarity as to what that looks and feels like. What city is the marathon in? What is the date? What is the weather like that day? What are you wearing? How does it feel to be standing at the starting line? How do you feel as you cross the finish line? Maybe your goal is to win the marathon, or set a personal best. Incorporate that into your goal and your picture of your goal.
The clearer your picture of you goal and the more detail, the easier it is to focus on in and to attract it into your life.
Write your goal down to achieve it
Once you know what you want, write it out. Write out all of the details about your goal. This will likely cover at least one page, and could cover more. Don't worry about how long it is. Just get it all written down. Keep this paper handy, because you'll need it for Step 5.
Once you have the long form written, write out a one sentence version of your goal to carry around with you every day.
Step 2: Know your why
When we set goals, we generally feel excited about them. We're excited about the prospect of what we will achieve, and it's fresh in our minds. But the biggest obstacle for most people is taking action when that excitement is gone. Those emotions don't last. No one is excited about going to the gym every time they need to go. Even top performers have days when they don't want to follow though.
Why do you want to achieve your goal?
What is your true why? Knowing why you want that goal is what will keep you going when you don't feel like it (which is most of the time, at least in the beginning). I don't mean just the quick, first thing that comes to your mind. You might think, if your goal is to run that marathon, that your "why" is to be in better shape.
Take a few minutes to think about this why. If what you want is simply to be in better shape, why run a marathon? Why not just go for a walk every day, or join a gym?
Follow this process to figure out what your true "why" is behind your goal.
- Read your goal, and ask yourself why you want that. (Ex: Why do I want to run a marathon?)
- Write down your answer. Now, ask yourself why again. (Ex: I want to run a marathon to get in better shape. Why do I want to get in better shape?)
- Write down your answer. Ask yourself why a third time.
- Write down your answer. Ask yourself why a fourth time.
- Write down your answer. Ask yourself why a fifth and final time.
It takes most people these 5 times of digging deeper to get to the real "why" behind their goal. THIS is the why you'll want to focus on.
Write your "why" down on your goal card and on the long, detailed description of your goal. You'll need this for Step 5.
Step 3: Change your thinking
As the saying goes, if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll continue getting what you've always gotten. The same is true of the way we think. Thinking precedes our actions. The thought patterns you've had for years have gotten you to where you are today. If you want something different, something amazing, you'll have to change your thoughts.
You must think differently if you want something different
Our minds are constantly thinking. Seemingly random thoughts come and go as we go about our days. The majority of these thoughts are negative, focused on things we don't want, or on things we've experienced in the past. Most of us haven't been trained to control our thoughts, so we have this barrage of ongoing, sporadic thoughts all day, every day. We then tend to get caught up in the emotions and stories these thoughts create.
This type of thought pattern will not help you to achieve anything that is worthwhile. Our thoughts, like our actions, must be focused and directed. Instead of letting your thoughts control you, you must form the habit of directing and controlling your thoughts.
This new habit will require much effort and discipline. It is by no means easy to start controlling and directing your thoughts, especially when they've run free your entire life. It's kind of like adopting a teenager who has never had rules or limitations imposed, and suddenly you're going to start imposing order. The teen would rebel, and your thoughts will, too.
Think about achieving your goal
To start training your thoughts, take the images and ideas you wrote about your goal and bring them to mind as you go about your day. Frequently repeat your goal in your mind. Bring to mind the images you wrote out. Talk to yourself about your goal. Pretend you're having a conversation with someone about how incredible you feel now that you've accomplished your goal.
The intent is to start directing your thoughts. It's not simple to do, which is why most people quit! But it is most definitely possible, as evidenced by all those who are successful in their endeavors. You can do it, too! Time after time, simply think about what you want.
Step 4: Act
Disciplined, focused action is required to achieve your goal
Nothing will happen until you act. If you create the picture of your goal but fail to act, you're still just wishing or day dreaming.
You must act daily to do the things that will get you to where you want to go. By repeating your goal over and over to yourself and thinking about it often, you'll find that ideas start to come to mind. Write those ideas down. Keep a running list. You don't have to do them all, and some will be more appealing or feasible than others. The key is to do something each day that will move you toward your goal.
Reaching your goal will require acting through fear, and acting when you don’t feel like it. Read and re-read your WHY, and keep that in mind to help you keep moving.
It's also important to act AS IF you already are who you want to be. If the goal is to run a marathon, how would that person act? They'd likely be doing strength training and cardio training. So start doing those things.
If you're not sure what to do, work backward from your goal. Look for someone who has already done what you want to do, and do what they did. Write out your goal and ask yourself, what habits would I need to become this person?
Step 5: Review regularly
Every so often, it's important to stop and assess our progress. We need to see where we are, where we've come from, and where we're going. Reviewing your goal regularly will help keep you on track.All things get off track over time. we need the regular reviewing to get us back on track and help us stay there.
Review daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Patience is required because we don’t know the time it will take for us to become this new person. The time is different for us all, so the best thing you can do is wear blinders! Comparing yourself to the progress of others is setting yourself up for disappointment and failure in most cases.
Review the actions you've taken and the results you've gotten from them. What seems to be working well? What isn't working so well? What can you learn from these things? What needs to be tweaked or changed?
As long as you keep moving forward, you're not failing. You're simply learning. Learning only happens when we make errors and mistakes. It's a natural part of the process. No child ever stood and walked without falling many, many times.
5 steps to reaching your goals
- Take the time to understand clearly what you want, and why it's important to you. You'll be devoting a lot of time to your goal, so make sure it's worth it.
- Train yourself to develop the habit of thinking about your goal and how to reach it often.
- Act daily. Take one step every day that will help you reach your goal. Check in regularly as well to monitor your progress and make corrections.
What part of the process of achieving your goals has been easiest? Most challenging?