7 Surefire Ways To Set Goals That Matter And Follow Through
How many times have you set goals and couldn’t follow through? Maybe it was building your own business or just building out your inner circle. Whatever the case may be, goals are set, but expectations aren’t always met.
Do you love setting goals but never seem to follow through with them?
I’m sure you’ve felt the excitement of setting goals…only to forget about them a few weeks later. Many people are stuck in the same cycle of setting goals, forgetting about them or failing to complete them, and then setting the same goals again with a renewed resolve to meet those goals. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you.
Following through is one of the most challenging tasks, specifically when it comes to something you are doing for yourself.
I say this because if you were working at a job for somebody else, I am sure you have no problem completing the task on time, and following through to the end. After all, your job and weekly pay depend on it.
It’s not simple nor is it straightforward. But there is a science to goal setting that will help you to follow through.
As long as you heed the advice in this step-by-step guide, you’ll be on your way to making your dreams a reality. Ignore the advice and you might suffer the backlash of another failed attempt to accomplish something worthwhile.
There’s no one way to achieve a goal. But there are goal-setting strategies that can help you stay the course.
Goals don’t have to be daunting. You simply need an achievable action plan. Because I want to help you achieve your goals, I’m sharing a simple process you can use to break down your goals into action steps. Keep reading so you can create your own step-by-step goal plan!
Tip #1: Divide And Conquer
My first piece of advice is to chunk your goal down into small achievable steps. Because most goals that are worth achieving can seem pretty overwhelming at first. All you have to do is take one small step after another — and if you keep on doing that, you WILL achieve your goal, guaranteed.
Have you ever heard the expression, “The only way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time”?
I don’t condone eating elephants, of course, but when it comes to the metaphorical elephant that is our goals, the only way to eat them is really one bite at a time. Take that goal, chop it up into little bite-sized achievable pieces, and then start with the first one, and leave the rest for later.
It’s okay to have a long-term vision but keep your goals short-term.
Don’t set some big number that is going to take all year to see come to fruition. Even if you get started now, you’re likely going to lose motivation along the way especially if the result isn’t coming off the way you had planned. So, set your short-term goals as ones you can control.
There’s one reliable way to get from point A (where you are now) to point B (your future reality).
Take small steps, consistently over time. It’s important note that Point B is in the future. You’ll get there eventually, but you aren’t there yet. And that’s okay! Don’t let your desire to be at Point B cause suffering in the present. By working towards that future state, you’re doing what you can to make it happen. Find peace in the effort you put into it.
The trick is when your goal isn’t necessarily numbers based, and for this type of goal I’d love to share a page out of The One Thing by Gary Keller.
I love this exercise because it not only focuses on the goal that you have, but what ONE Thing you can do today to help move the needle. In this exercise, you’re working backwards from the big goal, creating smaller time-based goals along the way by keeping in mind a single action that you can take to meet that goal.
The key to achieving great big goals is breaking them down into manageable chunks.
Really big goals aren’t accomplished overnight. And many of them take weeks or months to accomplish. To get there, you’ll need to break down your goals into smaller attainable milestones. By dividing up your big goals into several micro-goals, you give yourself the opportunity to succeed along the way. It’s easier to stick with a big goal when you’re consistently accomplishing micro-goals toward it.
Tip #2: Reach Out to Others
Studies have shown time and again that the strength of our social support system is the greatest source of resilience, success, and happiness that we have. When we begin to lose sight of our goals, having a trusted “other” to guide us and remind us of those goals gives us the strength to get back in the game.
What you need to do is make the world aware of what you’re doing, as committing to a goal publicly is far more likely to get you to carry through.
Why? Because now you’re not just using ‘want’ to get yourself to complete the goal, you’re utilizing guilt and shame as well. And though people think of these as negative emotions, that’s just because people haven’t been using them correctly.
Find and define one person who will become your accountability partner this year for each of the major goals that you have.
Set regular check-ins with each other during the year, and knowing there’s someone on the other end following along will be huge in motivating you to keep going, because when the “honeymoon period” ends after January is over, it becomes a real struggle.
Some people have an inner drill sergeant that pushes them mercilessly until they achieve every goal that they set for themselves.
For those who were born sans inner drill sergeant, all is not lost. Accountability is the top strategy that I’ve used throughout the years to help me stay on track and knock out my goals. You can always use the power of external pressure to compensate for your lack of inner pressure. Ask yourself the following: How can I make others hold me accountable for the achievement of my goals?
Setting the goal is the fun part. Sticking to it is tougher. Having a mentor, a partner or social accountability will help when you reach a sticking point.
You might choose someone who you don’t want to disappoint, paying for a mentor or accountability partner or finding someone with similar objectives through a professional or social media group. This person can help by defining clear expectations, focusing on performance and monitoring progress.
The coaching business has increased in popularity lately, and for good reason.
Coaches get paid to assist you in clarifying your goals, to hold you to a reasonable timeline, and to help develop strategies for overcoming obstacles that get in the way of achieving the final outcome. One of the defining characteristics of coaching is that it creates a measuring tool for action and a means for reporting on self-learning. Good coaches never judge, scold, or blame; they simply help you realize what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the commitments you make to yourself.
Tip #3: Execution Is The Game
Many people decide on a goal but never create an action plan to determine how exactly they will meet that goal. Your action plan should include the overall goal you’re trying to meet and all the steps you need to take to get there.
Once you have decided that you want something and that you are ready to take action, you need to make sure you take action.
Not all things can happen right now, in this moment. If they can, get to it! Otherwise, you must schedule it in your calendar, the same way you do for an important meeting. Recognize that your commitments to yourself need the same care that commitments to others receive. Furthermore, when you write it down, it makes it more concrete. It is the first physical step to taking action. This action alone starts to build the momentum you need to continue taking action to following through on your goal.
You will want to create a massive action plan (MAP). Your MAP is the key to success with your goal.
Without it, you’ll feel like a fish out of water, floundering in a sea of misinformation and disinformation. If we likened any goal to a person, the MAP would be likened to the air they would breathe. Your MAP is effectively your roadmap. It’s like your GPS, turn-by-turn instructions on how to get from Point A to Point B.
It’s an amazing feeling when you finally stop talking about what you’re going to do and start taking action.
It’s easy to get caught up in a self-talk cycle of “I always wanted to do that”, and then never actually get around to doing it. Instead of talking about what you wanted or what you intended, change your self-talk to reflection the actions you’ve taken toward achieving your goals. You have everything within you that you need to create the success and the lifestyle you desire. Take action today, do what you intend to do, and make success a reality.
Just having confidence in yourself can go a long way in spurring you into action. Stay away from pessimistic people and think positive.
Talk to and acquaintances about your goals. You may feel that it’s a foolish thing to do, but the fact is that the more people you talk to about your ambitions, the more committed you will be to those ambitions. Keep some scope to reassess your goals along the way, alter them if you have to- be flexible- that is the best way to take action and achieve your goals!
Taking action is the most important step towards success.
The simple truth is that dreams, visions and goals are achieved and accomplished only through action. None of the theories and plans will work if you don’t take any action. Dream it, think it, plan it, then do it. Go for it. Do it. Execution is the secret sauce, many people can have the same idea but what sets them apart is how they execute it.
Tip #4: Pick Your Goals Wisely
It’s up to you to decide if you’re going after the right goal. Is it something you really, really want? Are you pursuing a goal that’s important to you and brings joy and meaning to your life? Or is it something that other people have pressured you into pursuing?
There are things we think we want, and then there are things we really want.
If you just say you want it because your friend is doing it, or because you read somewhere that it’s fun, then you won’t have the inner motivation to take action. However, when the motivation comes from within, the desire to take action is a lot stronger. Basically, you need to get honest with yourself, and decide if you are intrinsically motivated to take action, or if it is merely something you think you should be doing.
Successful follow-through requires some up-front prep, including understanding what the true goal is.
You might say that you want to get a promotion by the end of the year or hit your sales numbers out of the park, but why? Are you motivated by more money or greater recognition within the company? Get to the heart of what it is you really want and embrace it. When you’re honest about what you’re really seeking, you’ll be more motivated to do what it takes to get there.
Remember that reasons come first, answers come second.
When you want something badly enough, as in you have a powerful and strong enough reasons for wanting to achieve it, nothing will stand in your way. These can’t be flimsy reasons. They can’t be superficial either. They have to be core reasons that penetrate into your deep-down values and belief systems. It isn’t possible any other way.
The reason you want that goal has to be compelling to the core of who you are.
It has to be associated with an irrefutable feeling that’s embedded within your spirit, your heart and your soul. You want money because of the feelings associated with it. Freedom is one such reason. Time with family is another one. Contribution could also be another one.
Optimal goals lead us toward who we are and can be in our lives.
Optimal goals are an expression of the beliefs, values, and hopes that are, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the better angels of our nature.” A life oriented toward optimal goals is not necessarily a stress-free or error-free life, but it is a life that you can look back on at the end of the day or the end of the road with a sense of it having been worth it.
Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for.
This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward. Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.
Tip #5: Shoot The Moon
The problem with SMART goals is that they can actually limit your ambition as instead of shooting for the moon you end up setting smaller goals. That obviously isn’t the goal. Instead, you need to set ambitious long-term goals, that seem close to impossible, but are still possible.
So these goals might be ‘become a millionaire’ or or ‘climb Mount Everest’.
In that way, at least if you really care about achieving the goal, you’ll end up stretching yourself in order to achieve it, which will pull you from the mediocre into the elite. In other words, give yourself a mountain to scale.
Limiting beliefs don’t always live in the conscious mind; they’re often in the subconscious, making them difficult to recognize or identify.
You simply have to do your best job to identify them. Dig deep. Do whatever you can to identify the language and the beliefs that have been holding you back. For example, how can you want to become a millionaire if you believe that money doesn’t grow on trees because you’ve heard this your whole life? Can you see how a belief can stifle your goal? Identify the limiting beliefs best you can, then spend time refuting those beliefs.
If we underestimate what we can achieve in the long term, we underestimate our true capability.
The downside is lowering our goals to an ‘achievable’ level we know we can easily meet, thereby lowering our expectations, our standards, and our outcomes. Thoughts have power. If you think bigger, you are putting more power into your thoughts, and if you add positive action, you are most likely to reach far.
It is not a lack of resources that holds people back, but a lack of resourcefulness.
A big thinker visualizes what is possible in the future, rather than being stuck in the present. Look at things not as they are now, but as they can be — without constraints. Visualization adds value to everything. This mental rehearsal gives you a compelling taste of what your vision will be like in reality, and the impetus to make it happen. Come up with creative solutions to realize your goals.
Most people have been unconsciously programmed to abide by tradition and a certain mindset. Anything outside this mindset of theirs is termed “impossible or outrageous.”
But when you think big; you force your mind to challenge such limiting wisdom and your brain begins to fashion a way out. If Bill Gates had followed the conventional wisdom of “go to school and get a job”, I doubt if he would have been one of the richest men in the world. So never accept conventional wisdom without first giving it a thought. Think beyond conventional wisdom and it will be so.
If your goal is too small you run the risk of selling yourself short and not reaching what you’re actually capable of.
Think big is all about your ultimate goal, like growing your profit by 50%. Start with brainstorming sessions that encourage “blue sky” thinking where anything is possible. For example, imagining that you are the most famous person in your country. Aim for the highest, push the boundaries, and yourself!
Tip #6: Fast-track Your Goals
You need to keep your motivation strong to complete your goal. Consider scheduling a weekly evaluation, which could include measuring your progress and checking your schedule. Once you see how close the finish line is, you’ll feel more motivated to push through to the end. If you’re a little behind schedule, make necessary adjustments and keep going.
Find a way to track small incremental steps toward the larger goal and track those small steps daily.
Little accomplishments add up to big accomplishments. If a monthly or quarterly revenue target is your goal, find a way to track this daily to ensure you are on target or identify whether or not you are behind. It creates accountability daily.
If you don’t strive to complete your goals you’ll never be successful. You must stay on track even if it hurts.
Discipline is something that is learned, just like everything else in life. So perhaps that’s where you should focus your attention as you consider goal setting for success. Because every time you manage to stick with a goal, you’ll develop that little bit more discipline until eventually working towards and achieving your goals becomes second nature.
Goal setting doesn’t really work when you lack a precise date in time. The date is an important part of the recipe.
When you pick your date, write it down along with the specifics of the goal. Be sure that you have ample time to achieve that goal. There’s something to say about building up momentum, but you also have to be realistic. Nothing is out of reach as long as you follow through every day, doing little by little, but you also want to ensure you set yourself up for long-term success. Achieving smaller goals will give you big wins that add up over time and give you the confidence to reach for more.
Even if you use a handful of goal-tracking tools, if you can’t set aside some time for doing daily recaps, your efforts will remain in vain.
No matter how lazy you feel about rating and assessing your performance towards your goals, never skip this part because you might miss the opportunity to find gaps that hinder you from succeeding. Set a time when you can best reflect on your performance and keep pushing forward!
Keeping a record of your progress, as you go along, will give you something to refer to, should a problem arise.
If you fail to meet your targets, you need to know why this occurred so that you can decide the best course of action. You can refer to your records where you will have noted what went wrong and, your thoughts as to why it went wrong. In addition, if you try something and, it works well, you can make a record of it. That way, not only will you be able to see what is not working, you will also have a record of the things which have worked well so that you can try them again.
With each accomplishment, it’s important for you to take a step back and celebrate your success.
If you are constantly looking ahead and never taking the time to celebrate your accomplishments, you will most likely get burnt out. When you get burnt out, you lose the motivation to stay focused on your goals. Don’t forget to savor your success and take in the good around you as you progress.
Tip #7: Tweak Your Habits
Are there old habits that are pulling you back and weakening your motivation? If so, think of behaviors that will help you in your journey and transform them into habits — that way, they don’t waste your brain’s limited supply of energy.
When we take on something new, old habits may no longer help us — even actively work against us.
Habits are extremely important because when you get in habit-mode, you’re not even consciously making decisions to do things anymore, you just do them. Habits, of course, can work against you too, but when you decide to build habits that support you and your goals, you’re setting yourself up for major success.
One of the most important things when setting a goal for ourselves is to determine which habits we should develop to get there.
Instead of focusing on a huge goal that seems unattainable, creating habits is the best way to make sure we get there. By keeping ourselves accountable and reinforcing them every day, these habits will be our roadmap toward success. Establishing a consistent wake-up routine will allow you to set out a structure for the day. Furthermore, you can plan ahead and organize your schedule accordingly.
Can you think of any bad habits that actually help you reach your goals? Me neither, so that makes it more important to rid yourself of these habits.
Use web browser blockers during work hours so you have no choice but to focus on work instead of playing games or aimlessly scrolling social media. Put your alarm in the bathroom instead of by your bed so you can’t hit snooze. This is not about making your goals easier; it’s about making small changes in our everyday lives that will make the process of reaching our goals easier.
Habits are one of the better ways to go about achieving goals.
The simple act of doing a habit daily helps exercise and train our self-discipline, which is a virtue and thus a good thing. Successful people are where they are today because of their habits. Habits determine 95% of a person’s behavior. Everything that you are today, and everything that you will ever accomplish, is determined by the quality of the habits that you form.
Once an action becomes a habit, you’ll do it automatically, without having to make the decision to do it each time.
In other words, you’ll automatically move forward, day after day, toward achieving your goal until you reach it. Decide to create the new habit, consider the habits that will best support your goals, practice the routine and put them into action on a daily basis, and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit and reaching those goals!
The process of setting goals makes you succeed faster and more efficiently. It can fuel your ambition and help you achieve tangible results. A goal setting process will help you determine how to set goals that are specific, timely, and realistic.
How many times have you said the following to yourself: “I get started, but I don’t follow through”?
If this sounds like you, use the seven tips and techniques explained above to create the habit of following through on your goals, and to make sure that you finish what you start.
There’s never been a better time for you to start creating the life you want to live. It’s well within your power to do so.
It all starts with embracing your current self, and creating a vision of your future self. Set clear, measurable goals to get you towards that vision. Create sustainable routines that push you forward. Focus on putting in the work. Small actions performed consistently over time create a massive impact.
We all have the capacity to adapt and to achieve our personal expectations.
Through goal setting, we raise the bar in relation to our own potential and push ourselves to achieve things we only hoped were possible. Successful people are not afraid of challenging goals. In fact — clear, specific goals that produce a lot of challenge — tend to produce the best results!
Now you’ve got some weaponry to help you smash your goals. Now go forth and conquer!
Right now, get started on turning your goals and dreams into reality. Run through the checklist above and report in the comments below what action you plan to take. Let’s inspire each other to make our dreams come true.