Are you ready to finally learn the steps to achieve goals? I’m sure you’ve probably thought, “how do I achieve my goals?”
First off, if you are actively trying to set goals congratulations! Only 80% of the population ever sets a goal. But the most successful people on the planet are constantly setting, achieving, and resetting goals.
According to a Virginia Tech survey….
- 16% of people do have goals but don’t write them down.
- Less than 4% take the time to write them down.
- Less than 1% review them regularly!
Unsurprisingly the 1% earn 9 times more over the course of their lifetime than those who don’t set goals.
Think you should start setting goals yet?
Some people are great at setting goals but they rarely follow-through with them. Others don’t even both to set them.
An incredibly small percentage of people not only set goals but regularly achieve them. Why is it that some people complete them while others don’t even get close?
A study of 267 people ranging from the ages of 23-72 done by two professors can help explain how you can actually follow-through with your goals. This study will help you finally learn how to set goals and achieve them quickly!
The Study on How to Set Goals and Achieve Them
Here’s the goal setting video version as well:
Let’s take a look at the goal setting study that surveyed 267 people so you can learn how to set goals. Participants were broken down into 5 groups:
This group was asked to think deeply about their goals and what they wanted to accomplish over the next month. They did not write their goals down.
This group was asked to think deeply about their goals and write them all down.
This group thought about their goals, wrote them down, and made a list of actions to help them get closer to their goal.
This group thought about their goals, wrote them down, made a list of actions and shared them with a friend.
The final group did all of group four and had a weekly progress report with a friend.
The results are pretty incredible:
Group 1: 43% success rate
Group 2-3: 56% success rate. 13% increase!
Group 4: 64% success rate. 23% increase from group 1!
Group 5: 76% success rate. 33% increase from group 2!
Think of a goal you have in your life right now (if you have one). If not think about it and find something you want to accomplish.
Now….imagine giving yourself a 43% – 76% chance to make that goal happen!
That’s the power of goal setting.
Full disclaimer: This doesn’t mean that magically all your goals will come to life if you are like the participants of group number four.
For example, if your goal is to make a million dollars in 30 days and you’re broke right now, there is a good chance it won’t happen.
But, creating goals that are challenging is extremely important! Don’t set the bar to low.
Set it high enough with a great time frame to make it achievable and challenge yourself.
Goal Setting Theory
Goal setting theory research has shown that people achieve substantially more who create goals than those who don’t.
As Maxwell Maltz said in the book Psycho-Cybernetics, “Your brain and nervous system constitute a goal-striving mechanism that operates automatically to achieve a certain goal. Very much as a self-aiming torpedo or missile seeks out its target and steers its way to it.”
When you select a goal and dedicate yourself to achieving it your brain will help. Like the example of the torpedo, as you move forward toward your goal you will make errors and course correct.
They should make you work hard, learn new skills, and become a different person to achieve them. If not, you’re focusing too much on the “achievability” instead of challenging yourself.
Is the SMART Goal Setting Method The Best?
If you went through almost any school system I’m sure you remember the S-M-A-R-T goal setting method.
Smart Goals Definition:
This part of the acronym I fully agree with. Instead of saying “I want to have a better body” or “I want to earn more money” you need to have specific metrics. There can’t be grey areas in SMART goal setting. Your brain needs your goals to be as specific and clear as possible.
Remember, as Jack Canfield said, “Vague goals produce vague results.”
The second part of the SMART goal setting is to create measurable goals. You need to measure and track your goals in some way to know if you are making progress towards achieving them. As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
This will allow you to have a big goal (i.e. Earn $10,000 from your side hustle) and chunk it down into small, tangible, bite-sized goals. You need to measure progress so you know when your goal is accomplished. This will allow you to celebrate mini-victories and give yourself a feel-good, dopamine hit along the way.
This is where I begin to question the SMART goal setting method. How do you know what is achievable and what isn’t? The problem is that most people set goals based on their past instead of their future.
When you set goals really dive into what is “achievable” before committing to your goal. You need to find a balance between achievable and impossible by setting challenging goals.
If your goal is to earn $100,000 tomorrow that’s not likely achievable. But if you want to earn $100,000 in 6 months that might be challenging but still achievable.
The problem that people get into with SMART goal setting is that they set their goals too low, too achievable. Your goals need to be big. In fact, they need to be huge! Your goals should be so big they are almost scary to say out loud.
I love this goal setting quote from Bob Proctor:
Set a goal to achieve something that is so big, so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time. It must be a goal that is so appealing, so much in line with your spiritual core that you can’t get it out of your mind. If you do not get chills when you set a goal, you are not setting big enough goals.”
Smart Goals Example (Tiger Woods)
Again, you want to make your goals realistic but don’t be afraid to dream big. Because, even if you “fail” you will still go farther than people with small, “achievable” goals.
For example, Tiger Woods’ main golf (and life) goal has always been to win the most major tournaments of all time. Since he first turned pro he always focused on winning 19 majors, one more than the 18 Jack Nicklaus won. While he is still in the pursuit of that goal, he has already won 14 majors. Second only to Jack Nicklaus.
Would anyone think of Tiger Woods as a failure for only winning 14 major golf tournaments? Of course not, only one golfer in the history of the world has won more majors. But, if he set a goal of winning six majors and won all six, would that feel better to achieve them? I’m guessing he’d take winning 14 over winning 6 major championships.
The fourth part of the SMART goal setting method is making your goals relevant. This means that your goals need to have a purpose and align with the rest of your life. If they aren’t relevant don’t waste your time on them.
Human beings need urgency. Have you ever noticed that whenever a deadline for work comes up you always find a way to get it done?
Your goals are similar. They need a target date to give yourself a sense of urgency to complete them.
Otherwise, it’s easy to procrastinate and not actively work toward them. Make sure your time frame is realistic to each goal.
Here are the steps to help you set and achieve goals in any area of your life.
9 Steps to Achieve Goals and Accomplish Your Dreams
If you want to learn how to achieve a goal successfully, it’s essential to have a plan in place. These methods will give you the best shot at achieving your goals and dreams.
1. Write Out Your Goals in Detail
As the study showed, writing your goals down is crucial to set goals and achieve them!
Not only should you write your goals down but it should be as specific as possible. When writing your goals down focus on the details. Instead of just wanting to own a house, focus on what the interior, exterior, backyard, and floor plan will look like.
I personally have found that writing out each goal instead of typing it is more effective. It’s very empowering to see your goals written down in your handwriting.
As Jack Canfield said, “When you write it all down, your subconscious mind will know what to work on. It will know which opportunities to home in on to help you reach your goal.”
This is why you should frame your goals as affirmations or create a vision board to give yourself even better odds of completing them.
2. Utilize the “How Much By When” Methodology
One of my favorite speakers and authors, Jack Canfield, said in the Success Principles:
To make sure a goal unleashes the power of your subconscious mind, it must meet two criteria: how much (some measurable quantity such as pages, pounds, dollars, square feet, or points) and by when (a specific time and date).”
Vague goals produce vague results. You need to be as specific as possible so your brain can help you.
Here are a few goal-setting examples using the “how much & by when” method:
- Idea: “I want to own a house on the beach.”
- Goal: “I will own a 3,500 square foot house on Miami beach by 5 pm on January 1st, 2020.”
- Idea: “I want to lose weight.”
- Goal: I will weigh 180 pounds by January 31st, 2018 at 5 pm.
3. Utilize Your Subconscious Mind
Why you should you externalize your goals? Your subconscious mind.
Your brain is astonishingly good at listening to your self-talk and thoughts. The subconscious mind is working 24/7, 365 days a year.
If it continually hears you downplaying your goals and desires or flat out lying to others, it will begin to notice. The brain wants to help you achieve great things and you get what you focus on. But, if you constantly affirm the opposite of your goal you will never achieve it.
For example, my goal is to become a PGA tour golfer. This goal requires me to be ranked in the top 125 players in the world.
But this goal was so far from my current situation it felt ridiculous telling it to other people. I assumed people would say things like:
- “You’re too old to start professional golf.”
- “You aren’t even close to being that good.”
- “Why even try?”
- “Isn’t is expensive?”
So when people saw me playing in tournaments or posting about golf on social media they would ask, “Are you trying to go pro?” I would say reply with, “Yeah we’ll see where it goes” or “I’m not sure yet, just trying to get really good.”
This was me deflecting from my ultimate goal, thus affirming to my brain it wasn’t actually that important of a goal. If it was important I would be telling everyone I could to leverage new people, learn new skills, and advance my game.
Instead, speak your goals, affirm your goals, and act as if achieving them is inevitable.
4. Share Your Goals
Start changing your behavior and let others know about your goals. Tell your friends, family, share on social media or add them to your website.
This will feel scary. You will most likely get told you can’t achieve your specific goal. Ignore these people, they are merely projecting their doubt and lack of self-belief onto you.
If people are not laughing at your goals, your goals are too small.” — Robin Sharma
Once you create them it is so important to share your goals with others. The more people you share with, the more likely you will meet someone who can help you achieve them.
Friends, family or strangers might have access to resources or connections that can help you in accomplishing that goal.
6. Review Your Goals Regularly
Setting goals are great, but reviewing them is just as important. Make sure you are reviewing them on a consistent basis.
Once you have a plan and make your goals public to others, your brain will start helping you find ways to achieve them. But, if you don’t review your goals on a consistent basis your brain will feel as though it’s not that important.
Has this happened to you before?
You get excited about a new goal only to forget about it a week later? I know I have.
Keep your goals top of mind by affirming them every day, preferably several times. As Les Brown said, “Review your goals twice every day in order to be focused on achieving them.”
The best time to review your goals are morning and night when your subconscious brain is most active.
7. Journal Your Goals
Journaling has changed my life. I can’t recommend journaling enough.
Once you get all the information out of your head you can find a way to solve problems much easier. Don’t keep it all contained and expect to remember everything.
Instead, write your biggest goals in a journal to remind your brain how important this is in your life. Ask yourself questions about how you can achieve these goals by the date you want.
Journaling your goals each morning and night is a great way to keep them top of mind. The more your subconscious can work on your goals the more likely you will find a solution for them.
8. Visualize Your Goals
Use a vision board, slideshow or video with images that show your goal as complete. Jack Canfield calls this “Act as if.”
Act as if your goals are already complete.
Imagine yourself driving your new dream car, starting that charity, opening a business or hitting the best selling list. Jack used this method to bring his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul to become a best-seller despite being turned down by 136 publishers.
Olympic athletes, high performers, and even CEO’s tap into the power of creative visualization. Whether you imagine them with your eyes closed, dream about them, or look at a vision board.
Obsess about them. Like Ed Mylett said, “Your obsessions become your possessions.”
9. Affirm Your Goals
Affirming your goals is the final step in learning the steps to achieve goals.
Your ability to use the principle of autosuggestion will depend, very largely, upon your capacity to concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession.”
By constantly affirming and thinking about your goals, your brain will take notice and help turn it into an obsession. Affirm your goals each morning and night. Spend 5 minutes focused on your goals and imagine them as being complete when you drift off to sleep.
How to Achieve a Goal Successfully: Best Goal Setting Examples
If you’re still not sure what a SMART goal is here are several SMART Goal examples to help clarify. SMART goal setting can apply to any area of your life; business, health, personal or sports.
Don’t be afraid to create long-term and short-term goals as well. Setting the right type is one of the most important steps to achieve goals.
SMART Goal Setting Example
Goal: Earn $10,000 dollars with a side hustle in six months to save for a vacation.
- Specific – $10,000 dollars.
- Measurable – Yes, as it is a dollar amount. Numbers goals are crucial to ensure you can track the success.
- Achievable – Depending on the side hustle this is definitely doable and would average out to be $1,666 per month.
- Relevant: Yes, it will help you save enough for a trip of your dreams.
- Time-Bound: You have 180 days to complete the goal.
This is a great example of a SMART goal.
SMART Goal Setting Example 2
Goal: Lose 15 pounds for your summer vacation on June 1st.
- Specific – Lose 15 pounds.
- Measurable – Yes, as it is a specific number of pounds you want to lose.
- Achievable – Unless you are super skinny already this seems very achievable.
- Relevant: Yes, it will help you increase confidence and look better on your trip.
- Time-Bound: You have until June 1st to lose the weight.
Brian Tracy explains more about creating SMART goals in this helpful video.
Don’t End Up With Regret
Life is fickle, you never know if you will live to be 50 or 100 years old.
It’s better to have tried and failed than to live life wondering what would’ve happened if I had tried.” — Alfred Lord Tennyson
The number one regret people suffer from on their deathbed is the feeling of not living a life true to themselves.
Don’t end up being in that statistic. Instead, set a goal that motivates and inspires you.
Announce it to the world once you have a plan to accomplish the goal. Work hard and have tunnel vision until you succeed.
You will be amazed at how much your life will change once you are fully aligned and working toward your life’s dream.
Never be afraid to share your goals with the world. If they laugh or think you’re crazy….then you’re on the right path to success!
Did this help you learn steps to achieve goals? Do you set goals currently? Why or why not?
Let me know in the comments!
How to Start a Morning Routine and Change Your Life
Latest posts by Michael Leonard (see all)
- How to Become a Digital Nomad (Interview with Kate Smith) - January 14, 2019
- John Malott Podcast Interview - December 18, 2018
- What is Freelance Writing? How to Get Paid to Write Content Online - December 11, 2018